Monday, January 10, 2011

Twitter - Greg Wood

Last week, Greg Wood, (@Greg_Wood_) a racing correspondent for the Guardian, UK, tweeted on Twitter that he had found an Apple iPod Nano in a street. He started the #letsfindcordelia campaign, and many took up the task of retweeting it, as is evident from the screenshot above. Several exchanges followed between Greg Wood and a few devoted tweeters who questioned about the iPod, and provided details about certain Cordelias they knew. (Tweets #1, #2, #3) About 34 hours later, he happily tweeted that Cordelia and her iPod would soon be united (Tweet). All thanks to twitter. Greg Wood himself was fascinated by the reach and the speed with which word got around, and Cordelia was found (Tweet) which lead to a humourous response from a follower (Tweet) Think about it. A few years ago, in most cases, a lost iPod Nano had to be a forgotten iPod Nano. Today, that’s not the case. With a combination of Tweets, hashtags, Retweets and Direct Messages, Greg Wood has utilised all the facilities that Twitter has to unite this lady with her iPod again.

Perhaps, even more interesting and touching was Cory Booker’s (Mayor, New York) campaign to dig people out during the blizzard-y season. He actively contacted people, and personally saw to it that trapped citizens were aided. You can read more about this here and on Engadget. He too, used a variety of retweets, tweets, and mentions.

We, at The Indian Geek would like to take a look at each of these aspects and functions of Twitter, to empower you to reach out and do awesome things. All online. All through twitter. Maybe even through your mobile phones, while on the go. Read on.

1. Tweet

A tweet is a status post on Twitter. For anyone who has used Facebook, this is very simple to understand. But the power of a tweet is far more than a Facebook status update – cos any one of your followers can retweet your tweet, leading to all sorts of interesting possibilities.

Twitter - Status

Tweets can be made private, to ONLY the people that follow you. This means that you would need to be really careful of whom you allow to follow you.

2. Retweet

When you tweet someone else’s tweet, it becomes a retweet. There are two methods of doing this. The old way, is to send a tweet starting with “RT @theindiangeek ….” to retweet a tweet from The Indian Geek. The current way simply allows the tweet to show up in your followers’ timelines as an actual tweet from the original tweeter. Below is an example of one of our retweets, in the new style.

Twitter - RT

3. Hashtag

A hashtag is used to provide easy means to collate tweets related to a specific topic/subject/event. When tweeting about the World Cup, the IPL auction, the recently concluded CES or even something as simple as #uksnow, which talks about snow in the UK – hashtags help to collate all tweets related to that event/topic.

#FF is a very popular hashtag which indicates Follow Friday. This hashtag is used by people on twitter to recommend people to follow, to their followers.

Twitter - hashtag & mention

4. Mention

When you link to someone’s twitter account, such as @TheIndianGeek, in your tweet, then you are mentioning that person in your tweet. This is used to call that person’s attention to something you’re saying. It’s similar to saying “Hey there!” to someone when you’re walking down the street.

5. Direct Message

A personal, and private message which cannot be seen by the world, but as twitter cautions – can be copy-pasted and retweeted. Direct Messages can only be sent to users who are following you.

6. Follow

When you subscribe to someone’s Twitter account (such as @theindiangeek) you start following them. People who follow you on Twitter are your followers. We advise that you exercise a bit of caution when following people/accounts, since there are many “bots” out there which exist to put out spam. Try to look at a person/account’s twitter timeline – with all their past tweets. That will let you know what kind of messages are posted by that account, and if you would really want to follow them – or have them follow you.

You can configure twitter to require approval for people to follow you. This can be used in conjunction with “Protected” tweets, to ensure that every tweet of yours doesn’t go out into the public online world. However, please keep in mind that every tweet of yours can be copy-pasted and retweeted, so the whole world could come to know.


We hope this small primer on Twitter was helpful in demystifying the whole concept behind it. Let us know in comments if you have more thoughts/queries regarding the same.


Greg Wood said...

Thanks for the mention, interesting piece. Only thing I'd say is that it was a major advantage that the name on the iPod was unusual. Had it been something much more common, I very much doubt that Twittering could have had the same effect.
All the best, Greg.

The Indian Geek said...

Thanks, Greg!

Yes, we didn't realise that at the time of writing the article... Still.. The fact remains that #letsfindcordelia was a pretty quick, yet awesome campaign. And it's all possible because of Twitter, and the various people using it. Like you...


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