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Terms every Twitter user should know 10 valuable Twitter utilities for business users Directory: 100 technology experts on Twitter
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For a service that is remarkably simple, Twitter is often difficult for new users to understand and to quickly turn into something useful. In fact, the simplicity of Twitter can actually be a barrier in the beginning, because there’s not much to help a new user get started. TechRepublic would like to assist its members in quickly gaining the knowledge they need to turn this new communications platform into a true utility. So, we’ve put together this guide, which will help you understand the basic jargon of Twitter, find a good set of Twitter add-ons to streamline and strengthen your Twitter experience, and give you a list of 100 technology experts who are active on Twitter and are worth following. For more insights on technology topics on Twitter, you can also follow my Twitter stream: @jasonhiner Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief
Terms every Twitter user should know
Here’s a quick collection of 10 core Twitter concepts that you need to understand in order to turn Twitter into a powerful 140-character communications tool. was flying to a business meeting in Seattle with Microsoft.” When used as a noun, it refers to an individual Twitter post. For example, “He posted a tweet last week that included a link to screenshots of Mac OS X Snow Leopard.”
Who to follow
The first thing you need to figure out is who to follow. This, more than anything else, will determine how useful Twitter becomes for you. For business users, we recommend following many of the colleagues you work with on a regular basis. While some of them may post useless ramblings, you’re also likely to pick up project updates, inside perspectives, and subtle red flags that you would not have seen otherwise. Of course, what makes Twitter most powerful for business users is following experts and thought leaders in your field and industry. For tech workers, we’ve put together a list of 100 tech experts who are active on Twitter. We’d also recommend finding thought leaders in your specific industry. Directories like Twellow can help. But the best method is to find a few industry experts, then look at their profile pages to see who they follow. You’re very likely to find other industry experts. Never be afraid to follow new people. Give them a try. However, if they post useless stuff, simply unfollow them. You should regularly unfollow people who simply don’t provide much value. This is part of the regular rhythm of Twitter because Twitter makes it very easy to follow and unfollow new people. In fact, after a couple years on Twitter, I’ve now got a few people whom I’ve followed and unfollowed several times.
What’s a retweet (RT)?
The “retweet” (often shortened to “RT”) is something that was not originally designed by the Twitter team, but Twitter users invented in order to re-post something really interesting from another Twitter user. For example, if another tech journalist (e.g. Harry McCracken) posted breaking tech news on Twitter, I might quickly take Harry’s post and re-post it like this: “RT @harrymccracken Google announces it is launching its own private space program.” The reason I would post something like this is because not all of the people who follow me follow Harry, and I find it important and interesting enough to share with as many people as possible. It’s the social networking version of word-of-mouth. By the way, Twitter recently announced that it is officially adopting retweeting, with plans to streamline the process for users, integrate retweeting into Twitter.com, and build the new retweeting functionality into its API.
Replies and mentions
A “reply” on Twitter is when you directly respond to a post from another user. For example, Sascha Seagan (a PC Magazine editor) recently tweeted, “I’m back from vacation. What I learned: Yes, AT&T coverage is much better outside NYC.” I replied, “@saschasegan In Midwest, AT&T network is infinitely better than NY or SF, but still not as reliable or widespread as Verizon.” As you can see, you start a reply with the @ symbol and then add the person’s Twitter username. The Twitter. com home page makes it easy to reply to a tweet by
What’s a tweet?
The word “tweet” is a Twitter term used as both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it used to talk about a user posting something on Twitter. For example, “She tweeted that she
simply mousing over it and then clicking the reply arrow. It automatically populates @username in the posting field and then you fill in the rest. Twitter client software (see below) also makes it easy to reply to a tweet. Similar to a reply is a “mention.” This is where you mention a person’s name and since that person is on Twitter, you identify the person by using the their @username. For example, I might tweet something like, “While I was in New York today I had lunch with @ldignan to discuss our coverage plans for Windows 7 on ZDNet and TechRepublic.” Also notice that every instance of an @username is turned into a clickable link that will take you to that user’s Twitter profile, where you can then choose to start following the person. Plus, on the Twitter home page you’ll see your @ username on the right column of the screen. When you click this, you’ll see all of the replies to your tweets and mentions of your username. This is useful because there may be times when people you don’t follow mention or reply to you and this allows you to catch it.
if the person is a regular Twitter user. It can often be a quicker way to message someone than e-mail, but less intrusive than a text message or instant message.
Another Twitter convention that users developed without the input of the Twitter staff is hastags. Hastags are essentially keywords. For example, #techrepublic is a hashtag. When people post links to TechRepublic articles, they often identify them by adding the #techrepublic hashtag at the end of the tweet. Other popular tech hashtags include #windows7 and #iphone, for example. Doing a Twitter search on a hashtag allows you to see all of the Twitter conservations that are happening around a specific topic. It can also be a good way to find people who regularly talk about a specific topic and then follow them. One thing to remember about hashtags is that they are not case sensitive. So, #techrepublic is the same as #TechRepublic or #TECHREPUBLIC.
Some of the most popular things to post on Twitter are links to articles, blog posts, video clips, etc. Some of the most valuable people to follow are the ones who post the best links, and that means not just the big stories that everyone is tweeting but also the really good stories that are under the radar. The problem is that Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters and most article URLs are 50 characters or more. That doesn’t leave much space to post the title of the article or any brief thoughts about it. As a result, most people use URL shorteners such as TinyURL when posting links on Twitter. My favorite URL shortener is Bit.ly, because it allows you to shorten URLs to about 20 characters and it
There may also be times when you want to reply to someone one on Twitter, but you don’t want everyone else to see the message or you just don’t think it would be useful for everyone else to see. In that case, you can send a “direct message.” To do this from Twitter.com, go to the person’s Twitter profile page and then go to the right column under Actions and the click the “message” link. However, keep in mind that you can only send direct messages to people who follow you. This prevents the direct message feature from being used by spammers. I’ve also found that the direct message feature can work almost like an instant message to get someone’s attention,
gives you some basic analytics on all of your Twitter links.
Most habitual Twitter users don’t spend much time on Twitter.com. Instead, they migrate most of their Twitter use to desktop clients while they are working from their desk and smartphone clients when they’re on the go. The most widely used desktop Twitter client is Tweetdeck, although Seesmic and Twirl are also popular. Tweetdeck is an Adobe Air application that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It provides a columnized view of Twitter with columns for your main feed, your mentions, your direct messages, any #hashtag searches, and more. One of the best parts of Tweetdeck is its ability to create groups. For example, I have groups for “Tech Journalists” and “CBS Interactive” (my work colleagues) so that I can view them in separate columns. Another nice feature of Tweetdeck is that it automatically refreshes, so you can just leave it open and let it do its thing in real-time. For those who prefer to stick with Twitter in the Web browser, Twitter.com is still not your only means of accessing the service. Tweetvisor is a powerful browser-based Twitter client that puts a lot more Twitter functionality at your fingertips than the standard Twitter homepage. There are also a variety of Firefox plugins that can ramp up the experience of Twitter in the browser, including PowerTwitter, TwitterFox, and TwitBin.
plenty of techies who use their smartphone as their primary method of accessing Twitter and the desktop is really secondary. While you can use Twitter via SMS, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an unlimited SMS plan. Plus, the Twitter mobile apps typically provide a much better experience by making it easier to reply, retweet, send a direct message, etc. Here’s a breakdown of some of the top Twitter clients on each of the big smartphone platforms: iPhone: Tweetie, Twitterific, Birdfeed, Tweetdeck, Twitterfon BlackBerry: UberTwitter, Twibble, TwitterBerry, TinyTwitter Windows Mobile: Twikini, PockeTwit, TinyTwitter, Twobile Palm Pre: Tweed, Spaz Android: Twidroid, Twit2Go, CuTewit, TwitterRide Nokia Symbian: Gravity, Twittix,
Another interesting (and occasionally even useful) thing to post on Twitter are photos taken from your smartphone. This can be especially useful when you’re at trade conferences and industry events and you want to report on items of interest. The most popular tool for posting photos on Twitter is Twitpic because you can use it from any cellphone with a camera. You simply take the photo with your phone and then email it to your customized Twitpic email address and
You know you’re getting addicted to Twitter when you start looking into how to use it from your smartphone. I know
you type your Twitter message in the subject line of the email. The challenge with this is that there’s no character count in the subject line of an email so you have to be careful to not make your message too long. If it’s over 140 characters it will simply get truncated. Flickr has also come up a service that is virtually identical to Twitpic called Flickr2Twitter. So if you already have an active Flickr account, it makes sense to use Flickr rather than Twitpic because then all of your mobile photos get added to your album, rather than creating a separate album on Twitpic.
Twitter 101 for Business (Twitter.com) How I use Twitter, and you? (Jeremiah Owyang) A brief and informal Twitter etiquette guide (Chris Brogan)
10 valuable Twitter utilities for business users
One of the biggest reasons for Twitter’s growth and success is that the Twitter team allowed the service to be morphed and re-shaped by the user-base from the very beginning. We saw it happen in the way that the Twitter community instituted replies, retweets, and #hashtags. But the real kicker was the fact that Twitter released an open API for developers. That allowed programmers to extend Twitter in lots of different directions and experiment with different tools and utilities to improve Twitter. In 2007, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told ReadWriteWeb, “The API has been arguably the most important, or maybe even inarguably, the most important thing we’ve done with Twitter. It has allowed us, first of all, to keep the service very simple and create a simple API so that developers can build on top of our infrastructure and come up with ideas that are way better than our ideas.” Today, over three years after Twitter originally launched, there are now thousands of different tools developed from the API, and many of them are extremely useful. Below is my list of the top 10 most useful Twitter tools for business users.
If you’ve ever used Google Alerts, then you’ll understand Tweetscan. It scans Twitter for your keywords and sends you a daily or weekly email of all instances where your keywords were used. This can be especially helpful for tracking brands. However, the service is not free. It costs $20/year.
Twitter is great for promoting blog posts and other types of content. If you have a blog and you want to automatically send out a tweet every time there’s a new post, then Twitterfeed can do it for you. It also has some nice customization options.
If you live in Microsoft Outlook — like many business professionals — and would prefer to interact with Twitter from there, TwInbox integrates Twitter into Outlook. And, the product is free. It was formerly known as OutTwit.
CoTweet provides an entire business workflow for companies that are serious about using Twitter for business. CoTweet allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts, it allows multiple users to access a single account, it can assign tweets to employees for follow-up, it can monitor keywords and trends, it can track clicks to links, and it can allow employees to schedule tweets out into the future. This is not a free tool. (See also: HootSuite)
This URL shortener not only shrinks links down to about 20 characters, it also keeps track of your links for you and provides some basic analytics to see how many people click and retweet the links and where those users are coming from.
The most popular tool for sharing photos on Twitter is Twitpic, which allows you to take a photo on your mobile phone and email it to a customized Twitpic email address. You simply type your tweet into the subject line of the email. (See also: Flickr2Twitter)
This site provides statistics for individual Twitter users. Simply plug in the person’s Twitter username and you’ll get a plethora of stats, such how often a person tweets, when the person tweets the most, who the person replies to most often, who the person retweets the most and
which interface the person used the most to post on Twitter. (See also: TwitterGrader)
This free tool allows you to schedule tweets out into the future. For example, I like to post an inspirational quote of the day on Twitter. But sometimes when I’m looking up quotes I’ll come across with several good ones at a time. So, I use Twuffer to spread them out over several days.
One of the most useful things to do on Twitter is to crowdsource a question or ask a quick straw poll. Twtpoll is a tool that makes it very easy to officially do a poll. (See also: StrawPoll)
If you want to see watch how a keyword has been viewed over time, Twendz provides a very simply and useful chart. The chart is updated in real time. (See also: Twazzup, Twist, and Twittercounter) For more Twitter tools, check out these resources: Twitdom 100 Twitter tools to help you achieve your goals 99 essential Twitter tools and applications 50 useful Twitter tools for writers and researchers Twittermania: 140+ more Twitter tools
Directory: 100 technology experts on Twitter
One the most important — and most difficult — things to do when you first start using Twitter is to develop a good list of people to follow. You can check your friends’ lists of followers, watch for interesting people that come up in @ replies, and look for personalities and brands who promote their Twitter addresses. But, it can take several months to build up a good list. For technology professionals, I’m going to give you a big head start. Below is a list of 100 technology experts who are active on Twitter. This list is dominated by tech media professionals and pundits but also includes some CEOs, CTOs, and developers who are worth listening to. Still, even if you choose to follow everyone on my list, I’d encourage you to regularly cull the list of people you follow. If someone regularly posts useless information or lots of stuff you don’t care about, unfollow the person. That’s what I do. I keep the list of people I follow to about 100-200 and I often add new people while regularly weeding out my list of people who aren’t providing anything interesting or useful. I wish there was an easy way for you to simply push a button and add all 100 people on this list to your “following” list on Twitter. Unfortunately, there’s not. So you will need to go to the Twitter profile of each person you’re interested in Following. This is something that Twitter needs to improve. It needs a group or list feature so that people can set up lists like this and users can then follow the entire list with a single click. It should function the same way OPML files function for lists of RSS feeds. So here is the list: 1. Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) Editor in Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail 2. Michael Arrington (@techcrunch) Founder of TechCrunch 3. John Battelle (@johnbattelle) Author and pundit on Google and Internet search 4. Veronica Belmont (@veronica) Former CNET TV and Mahalo Daily host 5. Randall Bennett (@randallb) Founder of TechVi; former CNET TV producer 6. David Berlind (@dberlind) TechWeb Editor-at-Large 7. Ryan Block (@ryanblock) Former Engadget editor and co-founder of GDGT 8. Henry Blodget (@hblodget) Controversial Wall Street journalist who covers tech sector 9. Danah Boyd (@zephoria) Academic/researcher in new media 10. Ed Bott (@edbott) Microsoft Windows expert, blogger, book author 11. Jason Calacanis (@jasoncalacanis) CEO of Mahalo, founder of Weblogs Inc. 12. Pete Cashmore (@mashable) CEO of Mashable 13. David Davis (@davidmdavis) Author, blogger, expert on Cisco and virtualization technologies 14. Chris Dawson (@mrdatahs) ZDNet blogger on technology in education 15. Natali Del Conte (@natalidelconte) CNET TV host of Loaded and tech correspondent for CBS News 16. Mrinal Desai (@mrinaldesai) Co-founder of CrossLoop; tech news junkie 17. Sam Diaz (@sammyd) ZDNet news hound on the Between the Lines blog 18. Larry Dignan (@ldignan) ZDNet Editor in Chief; prolific tech news blogger 19. Esther Dyson (@edyson) Veteran technology pundit 20. Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) Google engineer, blogger 21. Bill Detwiler (@billdetwiler) TechRepublic’s head technology editor 22. John C. Dvorak (@therealdvorak) Famously cranky tech pundit 23. Erik Eckel (@erikeckel) IT consultant and TechRepublic writer 24. Mike Elgan (@mike_elgan) Widely-published freelance tech writer 25. Rob Enderle (@enderle) Long-time analyst of the PC industry 26. Catherina Fake (@caterina) Co-founder of Flickr 27. Dan Farber (@dbfarber) Editor of CBSNews.com; former editor of CNET and ZDNet
28. Scot Finnie (@sfinnie) Editor in Chief of Computerworld 29. Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) One of the world’s top commentators on Microsoft 30. Ina Fried (@inafried) CNET’s resident Microsoft analyst 31. John Furrier (@furrier) Silicon Valley entrepreneur; now specializing in mobility 32. Steve Gillmor (@stevegillmor) Editor of TechCrunch IT, veteran tech journalist 33. Bob Gourley (@bobgourley) CTOvision.com blogger; government IT expert 34. John Gruber (@gruber) Author of Daring Fireball blog; covers mostly Apple 35. Dion Hinchcliffe (@dhinchcliffe) Blogger and consultant on Web 2.0 for business 36. Chuck Hollis (@chuckhollis) EMC CTO and blogger 37. Andy Ihnatko (@ihnatko) Apple pundit 38. Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) Professor and author who covers intersection and tech and media 39. Mitch Kapor (@mkapor) Lotus, Mozilla pioneer; angel investor 40. Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) Venture capitalist and former Mac columnist 41. Michael Krigsman (@mkrigsman) Watchdog of IT project failures 42. Sarah Lacy (@sarahcuda) Freelance author covering Silicon Valley 43. Leo Laporte (@leolaporte) Host of TWiT network and former TechTV host 44. Brian Lam (@blam) Editorial Director of Gizmodo 45. Nicole Lee (@nicole) CNET editor on cellphones and smartphones 46. Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) ZDNet blogger on social media for business 47. Cali Lewis (@calilewis) Host of GeekBrief.TV 48. Charlene Li (@charleneli) Forrester analyst on social media
49. Jim Louderback (@jlouderb) CEO of Revision3; former editor of PC Magazine 50. Scott Lowe (@scottdlowe) CIO, author, and TechRepublic columnist 51. Andrew Mager (@mager) Web developer and ZDNet blogger on Web 2.0 52. Om Malik (@om) Founder of GigaOm 53. Amber MacArther (@ambermac) Tech journalist and broadcaster 54. Richard MacManus (@rww) Editor and founder of Read WriteWeb 55. Marissa Mayer (@marissamayer) Google product development executive 56. Carolyn McCarthy (@caro) CNET writer covering Web 2.0 57. Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) Founder of Technologizer and former editor of PC World 58. Tom Merritt (@acedtect) Host of Buzz Out Loud and various CNET TV shows 59. Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) Tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal 60. Rafe Needleman (@rafe) Editor of CNET’s Webware 61. Patrick Norton (@patricknorton) Tekzilla host and former TechTV personality 62. Andrew Nusca (@editorialiste) ZDNet news writer; SmartPlanet.com editor 63. Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media 64. Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) Forrester analyst on new media technologies 65. Jason Perlow (@jperlow) ZDNet blogger and Linux Magazine writer 66. Chris Pirillo (@chrispirillo) Tech geek turned Internet personality 67. Jason Pontin (@jason_pontin) Editor in Chief of MIT Technology Review
68. David Pogue (@pogue) Tech columnist for New York Times and CNBC 69. JR Rafael (@jr_raphael) Tech news writer for PC World 70. Maggie Reardon (@maggie_reardon) CNET reporter on mobile and wireless technology 71. Don Reisinger (@donreisinger) Gadget columnist for CNET 72. Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Founder of Techmeme 73. Peter Rojas (@peterrojas) Original creator of both Gizmodo and Engadget 74. Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) Founder of Digg.com, host of Diggnation 75. Joshua Schachter (@joshu) Creator of Delicious, a.k.a. del.icio.us 76. Jack Schofield (@jackschofield) Computer editor at The Guardian 77. Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld) TechCrunch editor 78. Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) Tech writer and social media flag-bearer 79. Sascha Seagan (@saschasegan) Mobile writer for PC Magazine 80. Doc Searls (@dsearls) Tech journalist, author, open source advocate 81. Stephen Shankland (@stshank) CNET News reporter, covering Web and search 82. Deb Shinder (@debshinder) Popular tech tip writer for TechRepublic and other publications 83. Dwight Silverman (@dsilverman) Technology editor for the Houston Chronicle 84. Jason Snell (@jsnell) Editorial Director of Macworld 85. Marc Spoonauer (@mspoonauer) Editor in Chief of LAPTOP 86. Robert Strohmeyer (@rstrohmeyer) PC World editor and columnist 87. Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) Silicon Valley blogger for AllThingsD.com 88. Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) Microsoft Windows columnist, editor, and podcaster
89. Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) Editor in Chief of Engadget 90. Gina Tripani (@ginatrapani) Founding editor of Lifehacker.com 91. Lance Ulanoff (@lanceulanoff) Editor in Chief of PC Magazine 92. Rick Vanover (@rickvanover) Senior IT professional and TechRepublic blogger 93. Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) Writer on mobile tech and IT in education 94. Werner Vogels (@werner) Amazon.com CTO 95. Jack Wallen (@jlwallen) Linux enthusiast, columnist, and tip writer 96. Padmasree Warrior (@padmasree) CTO of Cisco Systems 97. Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) Tech venture capitalist in New York 98. Alex Wolfe (@awolfe58) Editor in Chief of InformationWeek 99. Molly Wood (@mollywood) CNET TV host and creator of the famed “Molly rant” 100. Dave Zatz (@davezatz) Gadget and digital lifestyle blogger
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