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The social network was launched in June of 2006 and many people didn’t fully understand it.  I didn’t fully understand it.  Nevertheless, I joined Twitter on March 22, 2007.

Fast foward 4 and a half years and not only do I understand Twitter, I have come to embrace it!  It all started with the launch of Google+ which opened my eyes to a new way of social networking.  You could share what you want publicly and anyone who “circled” you could see it in their stream.  That seemed to be the big advantage, but the real advantage was the reverse of that: being able to see content from other people whom you’ve never met, but found interesting.  Even better was the G+ mobile app that lets you see public posts from people near you.  I saw Eminems concert at Lollapalooza from 5 other angles besides my own.  Dope.

Things were great and I was high on G+ for a while, but then football season rolled around.  My yearly fall tradition of fantasy football came with it and so too my obsession with knowing my fantasy team players on and OFF the field. (You have to know if they ate a good breakfast and had a good night’s sleep, right?)  Enter Twitter.

This time, I returned to the 140 character world with a newfound appeciation and fervor.  I became in awe of its vastness and the possibilities of connecting with people all around the world about topics and trends from the news headlines to the rawest of human emotions.  I began following human beings who weren’t celebrities yet had interesting things to say… and some of them thought I was interesting enough to follow back.  We began having conversations, cheering each other up, and making each other laugh even though we’d never met.

I’m sold on Twitter and where I used to spend and hour or more on Facebook, I now spend the majority of my social networking time on Twitter.  On Facebook you get a limited sample of thoughts, opinions, and information that doesn’t change.  Sure, these are the people you love, but it’s just not stimulating after truly experiencing what Twitter has to offer.  I can go on Facebook right now, come back 24 hours later and the last post I read will still be in my feed at the bottom.  I’ll get all of the other content read and processed in about 5 minutes.  On the other hand, I can go on Twitter right now, read a tweet and come back 24 MINUTES later and that tweet probably won’t even be on my front screen (without loading more).

On the downside, there is surely some minutia, but life is full of it too.  Let your brain be a filter for your eyes and if it’s overwhelming there’s always the “unfollow” button.

Here are my Twitter tips for anyone thinking about giving it a shot:

Follow Celebrities – This one is obvious.  If people know who they are, they are likely to be an active Twitter user.  All celebrities are not created equal, try to find interesting ones.  Conan is hilarious; Beiber is not.

Follow Parody Accounts – Sometimes more entertaining than the real thing! (Try to avoid ones that use too many SPAM tweets for your own sanity.)

Follow Fact and Quote Accounts – Keep yourself full of trivia, inspiration, and insight each day.

Follow People who Follow who You Follow – Think about it for a second.  They might be interesting, you already have something in common, and they might follow you back.  If they’re not interesting, just unfollow them!  Easy as pie.

Use Hashtags… Then Click On Them – Hashtags are words or phrases that identify a tweets accompanying thought or theme preceded by the “#” symbol.  They become links that, when clicked, will show you other people who tweeted that same accompanying thought or theme.  For example, if I’m tweeting about Michigan Football I might end it with #GoBlue.  After I post it, I can click on it and see others who included that hashtag and will likely discover a bunch of other Michigan fans instantly.

Click on Trending Topics – There is always one that’s hilarious, one that’s serious, and one that is dumb.  They’re all good for something.

Tweet about Trending Topics – Other people will see it and you’ll feel like a part of the community.

Change the Scope of Trending Topics – Check out what people in Detroit, Michigan, Las Vegas, Bankok, Amsterdam, or even the World are talking about.

Disable Friends’ Retweets – If you follow someone who RT’s things that are irrelevant or annoying to you, go to their profile and click the little button that will only show you tweets that they originate.

Use a Profile Pic, Bio, and Background – You are a human being, not an egg.  Unless you’re Rich Qashat.

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