A guide to twitter and the shipping communityBy james tweed • Jun 12th, 2009 • Category: General
I’m sure that most readers have heard about Twitter: given the hype that has been going on for some time, you might be wondering if anyone actually uses it in the shipping industry? Does it have a role to play in the business, or is it just a fad for internet types? And how do you use it anyway?
First off, what is twitter?
Twitter is a free service that allows you to send and read updates, called Tweets.
Tweets are text posts of up to 140 characters. Think SMS text message or Yahoo / MSN Messenger but with the option of a much broader audience…
As the fastest growing online ‘community’ there are a variety of uses and users. Yes, there is a lot of noise as people tweet about the mundane things in their life, but there is also loads of high quality content being pushed out.
So here is our 10 step guide to using Twitter:
Step 1. Go to Twitter and set up an account.
Step 2. Choose a user name. (It generally it makes sense to use your real name)
Step 3. Customise your profile / add a picture / customise your background and customise your design colours (this changes the left column on your Twitter page where your tweets appear (the default is white). It also affects the right sidebar, where your profile information is located. It also governs text and link colour. Choose carefully, and make sure text / links have sufficient contrast in both columns.
Step 4. Learn the terminology. (Actually, there really isn’t much to learn at all… If you attach the @ symbol to a username in a tweet it will appear in that person’s Twitter feed. You can also send private messages to people who follow you (‘direct messages’ or ‘DM’s’). You can ‘retweet’ other people’s tweets and can flag that by using the ‘RT’ abbreviation. ‘hashtags’ are a way of creating searches, by placing the # symbol before a word, such as #maritime)
Step 5. Find people and start following. Steam around looking for friends and colleagues, and start following interesting people. Your first follow might be Coracle! If you click on a user profile you can see who they’re following and who follows them…
Step 6. Get off that browser and download a Twitter client. The easiest and most efficient way of using Twitter is by using a twitter client. We use TweetDeck. TweetDeck allows you to monitor and reply to tweets, to filter tweets, to form groups and to automate searches, making the whole experience considerably more worthwhile.
Step 7. Customise your Twitter client. We create groups to put people in, eg, maritime group. We also keep columns for replies and direct messages.
Step 8. Set up a Twitpic account. This third party service allows Twitter you to upload pictures and attach them to your tweets.
Step 9. Set up a Bit.ly account. Bit.ly is a URL shortening tool that is integrated with Twitter.
Step 10. Add yourself to directories. There are a number of directories in existence… We are listed on WeFollow.com under the categories #maritime #shipping #podcast.
Step 11. (it’s a bonus step!) Get tweeting! Top tips include tweeting about stuff people care about, retweeting relevant content and get involved in discussions.
To help you start, why not follow the top users? We had a look for the top 10 by searching the hashtags maritime and shipping… Here they are: