TwitterHave you tweeted your tweeps in your Twub or checked out your twinfluence? If this leaves you scratching your head, it’s time to put a new tool in your toolbox.  After all, Twitter has been the media darling of 2009 and now agricultural media outlets are regularly featuring the tool, so why not understand the basics? Moreover, if you understand the landscape (and the crazy vernacular), you can search and find a plethora of useful information Twitter – even if you don’t have a profile.

In order to make Twitter more approachable, look at it as a large party or coffee shop; there are hundreds of conversations (tweets), millions of new people to meet (following) and different rooms to go to find those with similar interests (hashtags). Some people in my webinars and trainings have mentioned that they don’t know why these people are following them. Twitter is not a permission based system; it is not designed for you to only interface with those you know, but share information with a wider circle.  Your community (followers) grows as you share information (re-tweet) and interface with people regularly (tweets or chats).

Earlier this week, I was hanging out with social people tweeps (people) in the #SM (social media hashtag) room and found the Top 7 Twitter Tutorials on YouTube. It’s an excellent resource that will teach you how to get started on Twitter, build your profile, find those you should follow, understand the value of the re-tweet, grow your following, and much more.  Just to be sure you’re comfortable navigating the “stream” (tweets from those you follow), here’s some terminology to help you translate lingo in the Twitterverse.

  • Tweet: 140-character message
  • @name: User or tweeter (e.g.  @mpaynknoper or @agchat )
  • Tweeps: People in your community or your followers (see @followfarmer for #ag tweeps)
  • Re-Tweet (RT): Forward of a tweet (similar to e-mail forward)
  • DM: Direct message to a specific user that is private (like e-mail)
  • @ reply: Public message to designated user for all to see
  • Hashtag (#): Defined subject area or data aggregator e.g. #farm or #agchat
  • Block: Not allowing a follower
  • Tweet-up: Meeting of tweeters (usually live)
  • Chat: Streaming conversation, such as #AgChat on Tuesdays, 8-10 p.m. Eastern

Twitter can be an incredibly effective tool for those who like a great deal of information, idea exchange and real-time networking. It’s not as intuitive as Facebook, as I’ve learned from my own experiences and watching others.  Here are the six stages of tweeting that I’ve seen.

  1. Sign up and think it’s a stupid fad.
  2. Find info that piques your interest, but not sure you really “get it.”
  3. Build your community and find new connections (following).
  4. Feel obligated to give information back to community (followers).
  5. Realize the power of messaging in your community and their community, harness that power for your cause.
  6. Become addicted – tweet from tractor, toilet & telephone.

Want more? I highly recommend “Discover Your Social Web” by Ohio Farm Bureau. Or check out Twitter’s help portal. Don’t be intimidated or look at the tool as a fad; social media has changed the way we communicate. There are over two million tweets sent per day and, according to Cause Matters Corp. research, anti-ag organizations like HSUS are using the tool to spread misinformation about agriculture – they’ve increased their following 26x since January 2009.  If you’re not a part of the conversation or at least familiar with the party, how is agriculture going to have a voice?