twitterTwitter is becoming a popular online forum for ongoing social and business commentary. It even got a mention on Rove last night, which generated a heap of traffic and new members.

The actual technology and functionally is very simple. It’s getting your head around how you use it effectively is the hard part.

Functionally

People go to Twitter and create an account. Then they can start posting messages up to 140 characters long about anything they want to. These message are displayed on their own personal twitter page. Mine is www.twitter.com/matt_freedman

That by itself isn’t very useful, but in your account you can “follow” other people which is like making them a friend, and then when you log in you see all the messages or ”tweets” from all the people you follow. You can also see who is following you.

You can also reply to peoples tweets, which puts your reply on your page with a @otherpersonsid at the start of the message. If you see someone else’s tweet that you like and you want to use it you retweet it by copying it and putting “RT @otherpersonsid” at the start of it to give them credit.

You will also see links showing tinyurl.com/… Because you can only have 140 characters in each tweet you have to keep your message succinct, and a full website address takes up a lot of space. So you can go to www.tinyurl.com (and other websites) and type in your desired URL and they will give you’re a short one that redirects to it for you to add in your tweet.

Why it’s useful

While some people just tweet about the weather and mundane things, many others tweet about their area of interest or expertise. By following these people you can keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry and even start to communicate with some of the leaders in your field. I use twitter to help keep up to date with the plethora of new information on internet technologies, eMarketing and social media.

How it can be used for a conference

If you are organising or participating in a conference or summit Twitter can be a great tool. You can create your own twitter account for your conference, something like www.twitter.com/myconference09 and then start posting tweets on coming sessions, earlybird finishing and other relevant information. You would encourage attendees to become a twitter member and start following you. When it got time to the conference you instruct members using twitter to add tage, such as  “#myconference09” to every post and then people can go the twitter search page http://search.twitter.com and search for #myconference09 to get all the discussion that is going on about the conference.

You can also add your twitter posts to your website and make it a latest news feature of the conference.

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