With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

02 December 2009

Twitter Party Tips

If you're new to Twitter, attending a Twitter Party can seem pretty complicated and even a bit daunting. Fear not! A couple of easy steps, and you'll be ready to watch the Tweets fly, and maybe...before the hour's up, you might even decide to Tweet too!

Basic Twitter Tips
If you think you might want to Tweet during the party, you will need to get a Twitter account. It's free and easy to do. They don't require much personal info at all to open an account. Just visit www.twitter.com and click on the Sign Up button on the right. You will be asked to provide your full name, a user name, a password and your email address. Having a Twitter account means you can Tweet a message to everyone and anyone on Twitter, provided you keep it to 140 characters or less in length. You can follow other people on Twitter who you think have interesting things to say and likewise, people can follow you! If someone unseemly follows you, you can always block them.

When you rest your cursor on a tweet on your screen, you'll see you have the option to reply or retweet. If you read a tweet that you think is worth repeating to your followers, you can retweet. You'll see the tweet with a RT in front, ready to send. Hitting reply automatically puts the screenname of the Twitter user you are replying to at the beginning of your Tweet. For example, if you reply to a Tweet from me, your reply would begin "@FoodAllergyBuzz".

Attending a Twitter Party
So, you've signed up for Twitter. You get how to reply, retweet and tweet. How do you participate in the Twitter Party? A few important things will make it easy for you.

First, you need to know what the hashtag is. For the Holidays with Food Allergies Party and all our Food Allergy Twitter Parties, we use #foodallergy. That means all tweets intended for the Food Allergy Twitter Party must include "#foodallergy" in that 140 character tweet or the people at the party won't see it! Using the hashtag enables everyone there to filter out tweets unrelated to the party. The tweets tend to come fast and furious during Twitter parties. It can be difficult to keep up. The last thing you need is unrelated Tweets interspersed with Twitter Party Tweets. That'll just confuse you and make your eyes go buggy!

Twitter Search
If you want to keep it simple, use Twitter Search. You can just type #foodallergy into the search box on the right side of your twitter page about a third of the way down. That brings you "real time" search results for tweets with #foodallergy. Sometimes it does not refresh as fast as you'd like, and you'll find it's difficult to keep up because while you're waiting for your search results to refresh, people are still tweeting away. It keeps things simple and uncluttered, though, and you can keep your Twitter page open in a separate window in case you wish to Tweet, Retweet, or Reply.

Twitter Dashboards
If you are comfortable with a very minimal amount of learning an application/tool, try a Twitter Dashboard, such as Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. There are many. I find using a Twitter dashboard makes it easier to keep track of replies, direct messages, and #foodallergy tweets simultaneously. I recommend Tweetdeck--it's free and simple to use. You need to download it, but it is well worth the memory space if you plan to use Twitter on a regular basis. For the party itself, I recommend using 4 columns: Mentions, Direct Messages, a column for #foodallergy search results, and a column for your tweets. That way, you can see all of the relevant info simultaneously.

What If You Just Want to Observe & Not Use Twitter?

I am so glad that Robyn of Peanut Allergy Kid inquired about whether there was a way to make it easy for non-Twitter users to read the tweets during and after the party. Thanks to Robyn's suggestion, the party may be a bit more accessible to more members of the online food allergy community.

Do you have to use Twitter to read the Tweets? The answer is NO. Not to worry--you can read the party tweets without signing up for anything or downloading anything! I tried to make it as easy as possible and created a Blidget (Blog-Widget) over the weekend for #foodallergy Twitter Search results. It is located in the left sidebar here on Food Allergy Buzz. By the way, anyone who is so inclined can add the same blidget to their blog or website. If you click inside my Blidget, close to the top where it says #foodallergy - Twitter Search, you'll be taken straight to the search results for #foodallergy tweets on Twitter without typing a single character! If it works right, it's a pretty easy way to follow the party conversation. Occasionally, it is a bit finicky and slow to load. Overall, however, it is a fairly efficient and simple way to observe the party without any tricky accounts or columns or dashboards.

That's my quick and dirty lesson on how to attend a Twitter Party. I am sure I am leaving out quite a bit, but hopefully this is enough to get you started! Please also take a look at a related post about Twitter Parties and how they work over at Best Allergy Sites. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me jenniferATfoodallergybuzz.com--I'll reply as quick as I can. Hope to see you at the party!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great find about Blidgets and non-Twitter folks ability to join in on the party. I just posted a blog about the party today and tweeted it, as well.

I hope to get in on the tail end of the party this evening. I have it tattooed on my hand...and my forehead...I look pretty silly...

Thanks to you and Ruth for arranging this event!