Is it just another online flash in the pan (remember Friendster?) or is it here to stay? Read on to find out if Twitter is for you.
What is Twitter?
At its crux, it's very straightforward: as the site itself says, "Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: what are you doing?"
By subscribing to someone's 140-character-or-less 'tweets' (updates), you can keep on top of what they're up to and what they're thinking about, and therefore gain some insight into their lives — at least on a surface level similar to the quick tidbits offered by the latest gossip mag. Which is part of the appeal: the LA set has taken to Twitter with a vengeance.
You can also keep your friends posted on what you're up to. That is, if you're convinced your peeps need to know that you're tired of laundry or going out for coffee.
What's so great about it?
My floral designer uses Tweets to keep his clients apprised of what's new in his atelier – today it's water lilies, with blooming dogwood in any day now. This info would be particularly useful to his corporate and professional clients such as event planners, who bank on knowing such details.
Heather Kirk, who runs a Vancouver-based travel media/PR networking site called Media Kitty, says Twitter has proven an invaluable networking tool.
"We've seen our website traffic rocket up since posting updates on Twitter, which link to our Facebook pages. Doors have opened and we garnered some lovely feedback – and it's good fun," says Kirk.
StyleAtHome.com editor Natalie Bahadur, a newbie Twit, says she's still trying to decide if she likes it or not. "I much prefer the scope of Facebook," she says, referring to the broader functionalities of the social networking site.
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Who's on it?
An estimated four to six million of your friends and relatives, as well as an A-list of Hollywood celebs, business titans and various organizations, both corporate and non-profit.
When following the tweets of celebrities, keep in mind there's a chance you may be following an imposter, and even some 'legit' celeb Twits use ghostwriters. (For example, U.S. President Barack Obama has a social networking team.)
Don't say we didn't warn you: It can be addictive. Gossip rags report that Jennifer Aniston apparently dumped John Meyer due to his excessive Twitter use (apparently he had time for tweets but no time to take her calls).
Further, constant tweeting may be sending people the message that you're self-obsessed, the exception being, as Kirk points out, when you actually do have concrete reasons to network and post online.
How to get Twittering
It's easy. Go to Twitter.com and create an account.
Subscribe to the Twitter feeds of people you know, or organizations, celebs or other notables you want to follow.
Go to 'Settings' to upload a picture of yourself, fill in basic personal information and select a page template. You'll be able to approve who is allowed to follow your Tweets.
Check in online, or activate your mobile phone to get and send Tweet texts.
Click here to follow Canadian Living's Twitter feed.
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