When I was first told about Twitter, I thought it was the most self-indulgent, dumbass thing I’d ever heard of. Condensing blogs down to 140 characters? Could Western civilization BE a little more a.d.d.? Why would I give a rat’s ass about what so-and-so thinks about anything?

In my defense, that was back in 2007, when Twitter really WAS just a handful of douchebags running programs that would auto-post every song they listened to in iTunes. It’s not good tv, and it’s terribly self-indulgent.

Here in 2009, Twitter is still terribly self-indulgent, but it’s gotten a lot more entertaining. I’ve found it pretty darn useful for everything from keeping track of random thoughts for future blogs and stand-up acts, but also for getting quick advice, hearing about events, and having random chuckles. I’ve even badgered more than one friend onto Twitter and, as a result, had to teach more than one friend how to get tweets sent to his/her phone. I’ve done this so many times that I thought a tutorial might be in order. Shall we?

Sending Tweets To Your Phone

Step 1:
Go to settings > devices and set up Twitter to work with your phone.

Step 2:
Go to the page of each person you want to be sent to your phone and turn “device updates” on.

Who can and can’t hear you.

Unless you’ve set your updates to “private,” everybody on Earth can hear everything you say, and Google will hear you, too. Beware.

@ replies

If you @ reply someone who IS following you, that person will see your @ reply in their stream. If said person is having you sent to their phone, your @ reply will come to their phone.

If you @ reply someone who ISN’T following you, your @ reply will still appear in said person’s stream.

Master class:
If I @ reply Jen (aka @wiltedrose23), anyone who is following BOTH of us will also see the conversation Jen and I are having. For example, if Jen and I are tweeting at each other at goth night, Abbey will hear us, even if she stayed home, because Abbey follows both Jen AND me.

If I @ reply something personal to Jen, it won’t get broadcast to everyone who follows me. BUT, if someone makes the effort to go to my profile page, those @ replies WILL show up. Again, beware.

There are a number of applications out there that allow people to monitor two different Twitter accounts at once (for example, a personal account and a work account). I like Twhirl, but beware: there’s a limit on how many times per hour Twhirl will check for tweets. If the limit is 60 per hour and I’m logged in to 2 accounts, Twhirl will check one account 40 times and the other account 20 times. Or 30/30. Or 50/10, depending on the preferences that I specify. I’ve found desktop applications to be a bit spotty and unreliable, as they frequently resulted in a time lag or other weirdy-beardy behavior.
LoudTwitter will either blog your tweets or email them to you, with or without @ replies, at intervals you specify. I use it to have my tweets emailed to me for further “would this be useful as a stand-up routine?” screening. Dave from The Strand has his tweets posted to his LiveJournal.
Takes long web addresses and converts them to smaller addresses that use up fewer characters.
Allows you to post pictures on Twitter. You can’t send a picture message yet, but if you have email on your phone you CAN email a picture from your phone. and songza
Allow you to post links to songs on Twitter.

Random Tips:
1. be interesting or funny. I don’t care if you’re at the grocery store, but I DO care if you think Germaine is the most ironically-named Jackson.

2. Pick a name that’s easy to spell. If I’m @ replying you from my phone, it’d much easier to type @tim86 than @timlivesforfeta4evr.

3. If you install a widget to broadcast your tweets elsewhere (MySpace, Facebook, your blog), DON’T forget that you did it. Also, the “post all of my tweets on Facebook” application should be used with caution as it may piss off your followers/friends if it’s overused.

4. Do NOT accidentally Tweet from your phone when you mean to send a text message to one person.

5. Beware of drunk tweeting.

See also: Twitter Content Help Blog

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