Sunday, 4 September 2011

New Session, New Opportunities

It's almost that time of year again, when we begin the new session of Erskine Writers at 1.30pm on Tuesday 13th September, at Bargarran Community Centre, Erskine. We have a great new syllabus, as you'll see on the relevant page above, with plenty of opportunity to write, share work, enter competitions, be inspired with workshops and listen to excellent speakers. Not forgetting our social event of the year, the Annual Dinner on Tuesday, 8th November. I've also updated the competition page above to get you started.

Meanwhile to inspire some of you to try Twitter, Cathie has provided the following overview. I'm already on it: @rosemarygemmell if anyone wants to follow.

Twitter for Twits

Getting started
1. Twitter allows you to send short messages to tell the world what you’re doing, thinking, reading or whatever else you feel like saying. If you use Facebook, think of it as being like the status updates.
The service allows you to follow people and be followed by people. The people you follow will form your network and their updates will appear on your Twitter homepage. The people who follow you have chosen to have you in their network and see your updates. However, Twitter is asynchronous. You don’t need to follow everyone who follows you. So you may be in my network but I don’t have to be in yours.
2. Go to Twitter and create an account. You can give yourself any username you like but it’s best to choose something that people who know you will recognise: that will make it easier for them to find and follow you. Twitter@yourname
3. Fill in your biography. Say something about yourself. It helps people to decide whether they should follow you.
4. Post a tweet. It should go in the box underneath the question “What are you doing?” and it must be 140 characters or fewer.

Start building your network
5. Start building your network. Look for friends and colleagues who are already using the site by clicking ‘find people’ at the top of the page. When you find someone who you want to add to your network, click on their name to see their page and then click ‘follow’.
6. Following people is the easiest way to let them know you are there and some of them will soon start following you in return. Your page will display a count of the number of people following you and the numbers you are following. You can stop following people in your network at any time by going to their page, clicking ‘following’ and then clicking ‘remove’.
7. Each time you find someone you want to follow take a look at who they are following. Add anyone who looks interesting and even a few people you aren’t sure about. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while for your number of followers to grow.

Talking to people
8. Most of the time you’ll be posting updates on what you’re doing. And if that’s all you do, that’s fine. Don’t feel obliged to keep your followers entertained.
9. Sometimes you’ll want to join a conversation. You can send a public reply to people by putting @ before their username and then typing your message. So putting @yourfriendsname would direct your reply to yourfriend. The person you are replying to doesn’t need to be someone you are following and doesn’t need to be following you for the @ system to work. On, a reply button will be visible when you hold your cursor over a message. Clicking this will add the @ automatically.
If you want to send a message to someone but don’t want all your followers to see it, you can send a direct message. Put d and then the person’s username to send a private message. Remember to leave a space, like this: d MoveToScotland.
10. If one of your followers says something so brilliant that you want to share it with your followers, you can “retweet” it. The etiquette for doing this is to put “retweet”, “retweeting” or just “RT” at the start of your message then add the @ symbol and the person’s username and then their message.
For example, type “RT @Yourfriendsname” to retweet one of your friend’s messages. It’s acceptable to edit their message to make it fit the 140 character limit.
11. There may be lots of people talking about a particular topic but unless they are in your network or send you a reply you won’t even know they’re there. This is where hashtags come in. By adding a # and then a keyword, lots of unconnected people can join a conversation.
These tweets are sometimes collated at specific sites but can easily be found using the Twitter search engine.
12. You can save a message to read later or just for posterity by clicking the star that appears when you hover your cursor over it.

13. Twitter’s great but isn’t. First of all, you need to visit it or keep it open all the time to follow activity in your network. Secondly, it doesn’t update automatically so you need to keep refreshing to see new messages.
A Twitter client is the answer. This is a small program that sits on your desktop and makes it easy to keep track of incoming messages. Many Twitter clients make it easier to reply, retweet and follow different groups of people: Tweetdeck, Twitterific or Twitterfox are all examples.
14. If you want to post a link you’ll need a link-shortening site. Some Twitter clients have this tool built in but you can go to a site such as TinyURL, paste in your link and get a shorter URL to help you stay within that 140-character limit.
15. If you like playing with stats, try Tweetstats. It will tell you how often you tweet, when you tweet and what you talk about.

If that sounds like a lot to take in, don’t despair – all you really need is practice!

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