If you've seen that ubiquitous little bluebird flitting around the internet or heard some television reference to "tweeting", "tweet-ups" or "twantrums", you may be wondering what the latest internet craze is all about.
TWITTER is a new form of social media where everyone communicates in sound bytes of 140 characters or less. Some call it micro-blogging, some call it haiku for the semi-literate and others just call it thinking out loud. Personally, I adore Twitter for several reasons:
1) My brain "tweets" all the time and now I have a place I can share my pithy (yes, I said pithy, not...well...you know...) meanderings on the absurdities of life, pictures of my cats lounging on my desk, links to fascinating articles and YouTube videos, all the latest news about upcoming books, blog appearances, etc.
2) I can type 90 words a minute so it's not that time-consuming for me
3) It's far more "linear" than Facebook so it doesn't aggravate my ADD
4) It gives me a chance to establish a much more intimate connection with my readers
Some have tried to set up a competition between Facebook and Twitter but the two are now totally compatible. You can easily set your Tweets to post to Facebook or your Facebook updates to post to Twitter. The only difference is that on Facebook, you have "friends" or "fans" and on Twitter you have "followers" (all the better to increase your chances of achieving world domination).
Twitter is the place to be to "Follow" your favorite authors, celebrities, musicians, politicians and/or syrup (yes @mrsbuttersworth is really on Twitter in all of her sticky goodness). The immediacy of it is stunning. We were instrumental in protesting the recent election fraud in Iran. We knew the balloon boy was a hoax long before the rest of the world did. And when a small fire broke out at the recent Romance Writers of America conference, the news was "tweeted" before the fire alarm was even pulled. When I wondered how Elizabeth Taylor (@DameElizabeth) was feeling about Michael Jackson's death, she "tweeted" and told me less than five minutes later. (For a real blast follow @kirstiealley. She tweets like she's roaring drunk all the time, even though she's not.)
If you want to give Twitter a try, go to http://www.twitter.com to sign up for a free account.
I also HIGHLY recommend downloading a "client" to manage your tweets. Some of my friends use Tweetie for their iPhones but my heart belongs to Tweetdeck. Just go to http://www.tweetdeck.com to download this app for free. You can use it to separate your Tweets into columns. I have AUTHORS, CELEBRITIES, SQUAWK RADIO GALS, FRIENDS, etc. on mine. And some people become intimidated by the number of people they're following. You don't have to actually READ the tweets of everyone you're following. I just check them when I happen to be on-line.
The control is all up to you. You can FOLLOW 400 people or you can FOLLOW 3 people. It's also very viral. Once you're following a fave author, you may find several other authors to follow just by reading her tweets. I've found that Twitter gives you a far more intimate glimpse into an author's life and creative process than any other form of social media. And if you're an aspiring author, the publishing tips and info are invaluable.
You can also UNFOLLOW people at any time. Or even BLOCK those spammers who will occasionally try to send you naughty photoshopped pics of Britney Spears.
And if you're Following several of your friends, you can use it as a form of mini-e-mail to have wonderful, scintillating conversations, which actually vastly cuts down on the number of e-mails hitting your inbox on any given day.
I'm doubly excited about Twitter because I'm working on a book right now called GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART about a man and woman who meet and fall in love on Twitter :). (Don't worry--I'm doing this in my downtime BETWEEN historicals so it won't affect my next deadline.)
So that's my Twitter primer. If you sign up and have any questions, you can always find me over at http://www.twitter.com/teresamedeiros
Come join the best cocktail party in the world! :)