I have recently discovered the joys of Twitter (click above to follow me on Twitter @ymummyreally) and have been using it to keep up to date with the news, as well as to share the fun things I find on-line. I absolutely love it, but in the beginning I had misgivings. Read on to find out why and to learn how to use 'lists' and 'Tweetdeck'.
One of the main frustrations I initially had with Twitter was that, once you start following people or companies and the numbers you are following reach fifty and upwards, you end up with a stream of unconnected 'tweets' that you need to check hourly to keep up to date with and which make no sense intermingled as they are. It's like trying to listen to a serious news report with someone telling you about their night out in one ear, and someone else trying to sell you their must-have product in the other.
I also struggled to understand hash tags to start with. But these are just ways to 'tag' something to enable it to be found easily by someone searching for that topic. Or to enable folk to chat about a subject even with people they aren't necessarily following. For example, if I tweet about parenting, then I add #parenting to the end of the tweet to make it searchable.
But two things have made Twitter really come into its own for me. Two things that mean I am now an utter Twitter convert.
I love lists. And in Twitter 'lists' are my way of keeping control. So how do you use 'lists' on Twitter?
It is a way of categorising your interests. So say I follow BBC News. I add that to my 'news' list. I also follow Ashley Banjo. He is added to my 'celebs' list. And my fellow bloggers go in my 'mummy bloggers' list.
To set up a list, go to your Twitter homepage, then click on "Following" to bring up the list of the people you follow. You can then select the "Lists" option on the left (under Tweets, Following, Followers and Favourites) This then gives you the opportunity on the right hand side to create some lists. It's like creating folders.
Create your lists, calling them names appropriate to you. You can make your lists private or public, it's up to you. Then click on "Following" again, to bring up the people you follow. You can then select the little drop down arrow next to each person, select 'add to list' and choose a list to add them into.
It took me a fair while to go down my list of folk that I am following, and to pop them all into a list. But once done, it's just a matter of doing it each time you follow someone new.
Now you can be clever. If you click on "Lists" again, and select one you are interested in, you get the tweets from only those people within that particular list. It means you can focus on news, or gossip, or shopping, as you wish. And, if at anytime you want it all again, go back to your homepage to see your full timeline.
I then discovered the joys of Tweetdeck. This is a piece of software that you can download to your PC for free. It shows all your Twitter information as you'd expect, only in a slightly different layout. It is set up in columns, with your usual time line, and mentions. But you can then add as many 'columns' as you like. And the columns can be based on anything. So I have a column to show one particular 'list', a column to show a particular hashtag subject I am following and I add or remove columns as particular topics or lists interest me.
It means I can have a usual home column as well as my mentions, a hash tag based column and a particular list column. I don't even need to have my 'mentions' as a column if I don't want to, as a little window pops up each time you are 'mentioned', even if you are working on something else, with Tweetdeck open underneath your open windows; just like having email's pop up as they arrive.
So if you haven't tried Twitter yet, or if you have and are finding it a little cumbersome; get organised with Lists and Tweetdeck!