Twitter has increasingly permeated the everyday lives of people across the globe. It functions as a tool for marketing, organizing, social commentary and the mad ramblings of a xenophobic, tyrannical despot who runs ones of the most powerful nations in the world. If you aren’t one of the more than 336 million monthly active users on this platform, its culture and various customs can seem foreign and daunting.
Falling prey to such intimidation means the loss of one of the most useful gifts the internet hath bestowed upon us. Whether you want to learn how to use twitter for business or you’ve been doing your ‘monk’ days, living at a Buddhist monastery and need to learn how to tweet, I’m here to guide you down the path and show you how to use Twitter effectively.
First things first, let us get a bit of something we see so little of these days: context.
What is Twitter?
Okay, you got me, that was a joke. At this point, the only people who don’t know what Twitter is are entombed in a cemetery or somebody’s back yard. Serious now, let’s be serious. It’s 2018, it feels like Twitter has been around forever, so exactly when did Twitter start, and who made Twitter?
To anybody following the news lately, the who of it should be no surprise. As idealist activists have realized the potential to use Twitter to organize powerful movements of social resistance, shadowy figures have been sitting in cigar smoke filled rooms, leaning over a mahogany table as they bend over into their phone screens, stroking their pointy beards. They’ve formulated their evil plan to use these same methods against the altruistic and spewed out propaganda campaigns that are threatening the sanctity of democratic principles and those democracies have been seeking answers from one man: CEO Jack Dorsey.
Born out of a daylong brainstorming session with some board members at a podcasting company, Dorsey presented the original idea of ‘twttr’ to a small group. Intended as a platform to deliver small blasts of inconsequential information, the first tweet was published on March 21, 2006. Yes, it was a momentous occasion. Words that would alter an entire generation, words that would lead to outright revolt, a Brexit, a Donald, were etched into the digital stone of the Internet. Jack Dorsey stood high atop the Internet mountain and boldly proclaimed, “just setting up my twttr”… and the Price is Right, “you’re a loser” horns, blared loudly for all the world to hear. Nobody knew, not even the co-founder of Twitter knew how to write a tweet yet.
We now live in the time where if you have a thought or intent, you can compose it in up to 280 characters and send it into the twittersphere to let the world do with it what they will. The question is what will you do with that potential?
When you’re starting out, the first thing you’ll want to do is to maximize your number of initial followers. Followers are the people who will see your tweets in their feed and have the power to retweet you to their followers, increasing your visibility and potential for new followers. They can also like your tweet which helps Twitter to see you, potentially leading to “trending” status and giving you a drug-like dopamine spike that can hook you for life and keep you coming back for more as any good drug does.
Obsessing over how many likes and retweets you’ve received is one of the greatest pastimes for life on Twitter. Seriously, try it out, set a challenge for yourself; say, “I won’t remove my eyes from Twitter and tweeting until I can get 1,000 retweets and likes on one individual tweet.” You’ll be sure to wake up the next morning on the other side of an intense tweet bender, covered in your own filth, twitching and jonesing for more. What fun!
Start by mining your IRL and Facebook friends for followers and watch as your message spreads its wings and soars across the world. Suddenly you have a couple hundred followers, you’re in a tweet frenzy and you begin to drool as you taste the savory flavor of every wry thought that pops into your head.
Perhaps you’re one of the first to crack wise about the latest flub a politician made in an interview and you finally complete that challenge you’ve set for yourself, you’ve exceeded one thousand retweets and other users are opening a dialogue with you because they saw what you wrote. One half of the feedback will be supporters i.e. likeminded people and you’ll enjoy everything they have to say. They’ll make you feel loved and validated and may become lifelong followers increasing the exposure of your personal brand (be sure to keep an eye out for my next feature on personal branding, the modern way of life).
Dealing with trolls
The other half is savage and berating, the trolls, i.e. people with different points of view from your own. Now keep in mind it is 2018 and if there’s one thing that we’re sure of at this point in time, it is that anybody who thinks any thoughts that come into any opposition with the black and white ways that we all view things are our sworn enemy and must be taken down swiftly and without mercy.
Trolls come in many forms. Some will go back through your Twitter past, perhaps find you saying, “just setting up my twttr”, and send it out for the whole world to see, mentioning you by your username and letting everyone know how lame you are for ever having tweeted something SO boring and innocuous. Or maybe you said something you shouldn’t have, once in your online life and they dig it up and send that out and you lose your job, everyone in the world shames you and you’re exiled from society with your life essentially over. Others will simply come at you by telling you that you look like somebody that isn’t conventionally attractive, or be intentionally ignorant and call you a snowflake, and so on and so on.
Trolls are nefarious, pugnacious, crafty, booger smears and cannot be anticipated. The best way to deal with a troll is to think like a troll. Participate with the cycle, when a troll makes you mad, well, turn right around and make them mad. Head to head conflict, boisterous, sometimes even false claims but definitely hurtful, these are the things that the Internet needs! Another way to deal with a troll, the way to deal with the first kind of troll who trolls through your past to troll your life (they also use the word ‘troll’ the same way the Smurfs use ‘smurf’), is to never say anything stupid on the Internet.
Remember that we are all owned by corporations and governments, and the best thing you can do before sending out a tweet is to think before you send. If you wouldn’t say something in public, out loud, then you probably shouldn’t tweet it because in case you haven’t figured it out yet (and I think a lot of us still haven’t which is why I mention it), everything on the Internet is public, even if it’s private and Twitter is definitely not private. So, use your noggin and have a safe and happy day of tweets.