How Does Twitter Work

How does Twitter work? Twitter is an interesting little social-media Web site, and it's pretty easy to use.

What Is Twitter, Anyway?
Twitter is a platform for micro-blogging, or posting short, pithy posts to let people know what you're doing. These short messages are called tweets, and can contain anything from what you had for lunch to the meaning of life, as long as you say it in 140 characters or less. When you choose to follow another Twitter user, you see their tweets on your home page. Likewise, when Twitter users follow you, they can read your tweets. It's a bit like Facebook without all the extra photos and applications.

Many individuals use Twitter to share information with friends, but some businesses also use Twitter to pass on important information about deals, specials and events. Some celebrities also use Twitter to spread the word about projects and events.

Log in and Start Tweeting
If you're just getting started and want to keep things simple, you can use the Twitter interface directly through their Web site. The site enables you to find people, search for topics, edit your profile and see what your friends are saying. You can also use the Twitter site to follow groups. The drawback to using Twitter's site is that you must check the it to send and receive tweets. If you want to find out what your friends are saying, you won't get updates unless you're constantly checking the site.

Twitter on Your Desktop
Don't tell your boss, but many Twitter enthusiasts download software that lets them use Twitter directly from their computer desktops. This software lets you send and receive tweets from friends without logging onto the Web site. You don't even need a browser window open.

The upside of using a desktop-based Twitter interface is that you'll see when your friends post an update, and you can even set an audio alert to sound when people post new updates. The downside is that this software can really cut into productivity, if you're constantly checking what people are doing and saying.

Twitter on Your Phone
Twitter has become such a popular social-media platform that you can even follow it from your cell phone. The Twitter Web site can send you alerts via text messages. If you don't want to spend the money on all that messaging, you can check Twitter from phone-based applications, as long as your phone supports cellular data networks. If your cell phone doesn't have a Twitter app, you can try the mobile version from your cell phone's Web browser at m.twitter.com.

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