When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!
A colleague of mine once told me a story about a Tacky Party that she went to. The idea was to dress, and act, as tacky as possible. To comply she and her husband, dressed in their tackiest finery, brought along uninvited guests and proceeded to not introduce them to anyone. How tacky is that?! I love this story and only wish that I had the balls!
In Twitter, bringing a third party to the party isn’t tacky at all…in fact, it can really help you out. Once I discovered TweetDeck, TinyURL and Su.Pr, tweeting became much easier for me…I finally felt like one of the popular kids at the party! I could keep track of multiple conversations, knew the shorthand for those long, tedious web addresses and I figured out how to schedule tweets. If only I had an iPhone or other handy mobile device I would be set…I know, I know…time to get with it but, really, I’m a Luddite in a techy world.
Consolidators Discovering these changed Twitter for me making it much more accessible and fun. These applications combine all social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace etc) together so that you can easily manage them all in one place. I can switch back and forth between them or send a message to all of them at once. I can make a column for each of the lists, or searches, that I want to follow; include one for the regular timeline with all the people I follow; one for @mentions; and one for DM’s. When I’m in a #chat I can just add a column for it temporarily. There are probably dozens of ways to use them – depends on what works for you!
Although I have tried each of these, and have a favorite, I won’t review them here. My advice is to try them (they all have free versions which should be more than enough) and see which works best for you. They are all pretty intuitive so you can figure them out just by playing around. If you get stuck there are always help forums on their websites or, if you like, drop me a line (or, better yet, Tweet me!) and I’ll see if I can help.
Scheduling The ability to schedule tweets throughout the day was revolutionary for me. I want to publicize when I have a new post but I’m not always around when the peak tweeting times occur. Scheduling tweets lets me send posts at the times when they will reach the most readers.
All the consolidating third party applications have a scheduling option, and I do use the one in TweetDeck but for some reason I seem to gravitate to Su.pr to do most of my tweet scheduling. I like the layout there better, can see the scheduled tweets easier, and I prefer the way the schedule tool works. Again, just personal preference.
***Here’s a BIG FAT let-me-help-you-because-it-took-me-forever-to-figure-it-out TIP***
Twitter doesn’t like duplicate tweets. Doesn’t like as in doesn’t allow them – I guess it’s to help stop spammers (naughty, naughty spammers!). The scheduling applications I have used (Su.pr and TweetDeck) don’t allow you to schedule duplicate tweets but they don’t tell you that!!! The tweets just fail (Tweetdeck) or won’t post to the schedule page (Su.pr)…but there is no explanation. I’m here to tell you that it’s because you already have a tweet that is a duplicate. No problem though – just go right ahead and change one character in that duplicate tweet…there, not a duplicate any more. See, that was totally helpful and was probably the best Twitter Travel Tip of the whole darn series.
URL Shorteners You know you only have 140 characters to get your thought across but what if you want to share a totally great website and the URL takes up 92 of those characters? Bummer. That’s where URL shorteners come in handy; they take a long website address and compress it into a much shorter version so it will take up less space in your tweet. Like magic. Okay, it’s probably not really magic but I don’t really understand how it works; I just know that it does work.
I think all of the third party consolidators include a URL shortener and here are some other places you can easily get URL shortened:
Pictures/Video Another thing I see a lot of, although I don’t personally do it, is the sharing of pictures on Twitter. Like they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and, when you only have 140 characters, a picture can go a long way. There may be other picture sharing options out there, but I mostly see TwitPic being used so it must be good. I don’t post pictures so can’t say first hand. I haven’t seen any video posted but there is also a TwitVid application so it must be possible.
Are you feeling more comfortable in Twitter yet? Made some friends; found some people to follow; maybe even have a few people following you? Remember, it’s like a party…you just have to jump in where you can, share some interesting tidbits you’ve found, tell a funny joke. Go ahead, I know it’s hard but it’s not like high school…really, you’ll find that people want to talk with you!
You can find me at @OneGiantStep…send me a tweet and let me show you around!
You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts: