Fun with Twitter

Back in November I learned about Twitter for the first time. As I wrote in my blog about Black Friday, the Lexington Herald-Leader (@heraldleader) was looking for people to twitter from various sites to keep shoppers up to date. It was a fine idea, but had very few people following it. I was aware of Twitter, but considered it a passing fancy. Nonetheless, between SMS text messages among family members who were strategically shopping in different areas and the twittering, we were able to have a successful shopping experience.

As with any new application, there was a learning curve. Soon I found myself being “followed” by plenty of individuals from all over. I did not know most of these folks. In most cases and not knowing any better, I followed most of them. Soon I found my Blackberry besieged with tweets. There was spam, tech tweets, sales pitches, recipes, stories. There were even tweeps sending tweets about their hourly activities such as having dinner, on my way to work, just got to work, on the way home. It was overkill!! There were even those who would say “Good morning followers,” as if they were royalty, and would proceed with 20-30 tweets per hour!! (For more information on Twitter terminology, please see the Twitter Wiki page)
Exasperated, I dropped a number of the tweeps from posting to my blackberry. I focused on those that seemed important–Rick Sanchez from CNN (@ricksanchezcnn and @CNN), the Herald-Leader (@heraldleader), WUKY (@WUKY), ESPN (@ESPN), WKYT (@WKYT), a couple of friends (see my Twitter page (@sumoflam) for complete list). 
But many kept adding me. It was like some were in a “follow-fest competition.” Who could possibly read all these tweets. As a matter of fact, on three separate occasions I sent out “survey tweets” to see if my tweets were actually read by my 250+ followers. I asked for a response…and never got more than two.
In any case, I saw Ace Weekly (@AceWeekly) and followed them. Soon thereafter, other followers of Ace Weekly were following me. I would add them. I was finding it fun and refreshing to read the inside scoops on local politics and other issues. (photo below is of Ace Weekly editor “Ace” twittering from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton fair on May 30)
@AceWeekly sending tweets
As I followed someone who was ecologically focused (@tomkimmerer), I noticed I would be followed by other “green” enthusiasts and even vegans. It became an interesting phenomenon.  I was soon being followed by members of my church from around the world, sports fans, travel enthusiasts. I am even following one certain president (@BarackObama)
In the midst of all these tweets, I started seeing hashmarks (#) show up. Funny, it took me nearly four months to figure out what they were used for. I would see them all the time, but was using the wrong twitter software for my blackberry to really catch on. After discovering and installing ÜberTwitter, I discovered the power of hashmarks. It was a simple #funnelcake that got me going. I soon found that adding # to words in tweets added a slew of other followers interested in the same themes.
Another thing I noticed–the tweeps mentioned above that would tweet constantly had slowed down and were sending out more informative tweets. The “royalty tweets” as I called them, began to disappear. In recent weeks I have truly learned the real strengths of twittering: following the news, getting interesting info on tech things, sharing information among an associated group of individuals and the daily uplifting thoughts that many post.
Through Twitter I have made some “virtual friends” (such as @MariAdkins,@ihenpecked and @FlauntInc) and have even met some in person. I have gotten some valuable advice. I have also been able to provide and receive minute by minute updates on things.
Another fun thing is being able to send photos directly through Twitter. With the advent of millions of camera phones that are also internet capable (think iPhones and Blackberry), Twitter allows real time updating with photos.  For example, on Memorial Day we made what I called “Chicken on the Can” with Ale8One Ginger Ale (@Ale_8_One), a local soda delight made in Winchester, KY.  I uploaded a few pictures of the process to Twitter by using TwitPic, a photo upload site for Twitter (see below).
 Naturally, as with all other communication methods, the seedy spammers are appearing in droves. The  shameless self-promoters trying to get you to buy their “how to become a millionaire through twitter”  books; the video cam folks; the “get something for nothing” promoters. Yes, as with email and    Facebook, we must be vigilant in our tweet sifting.
 Twitter is a fine tool if used correctly, and I thank those that have set a good example of how to use it  effectively and for the purpose it was created. It will be interesting to follow the continued of evolution of  tweeting in the 21st century.
 Tweet on!!

All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.

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