How To Get Started On Twitter, Even If You Are Over 50



Little known fact. I joined Twitter in August of 2008, when a sales lead came in, source marked, “Twitter.” One must do one’s research, after all. I had no idea what the point was.

Fast forward to December of 2009. I tried again. Different account. This time I did better. How? You just have to remember that Twitter is like an enormous cocktail party held in a barn. You either want to go with friends, or make arrangements to meet up when you arrive. Best case, your friends know other people at the party.

It’s up to you whether you stand in the corner, drink in hand, observing, or get out there and meet and mingle. By the way, celebrities will be present. You can listen to them talk. Or not. They are unlikely to listen to you. Your friends, however, will laugh even at your bad jokes.

How to get started?

  • Go to www.twitter.com
  • Click the green button that says, “Sign up”
  • You will be asked for your full name, the user name you would like to be known as on Twitter, a password, and your email address.
  • They will tell you if your user name is available. I’m AmidPrivilege. Nice to meet you. See, just like a party.
  • They will tell you if the email address has been used, in case you are like me and forget you have signed up already:).
  • They will not tell you that the full name you enter will be visible to the Twitterverse. Muffy had to tell me. You might not want to use your real name. Unless you are famous, and then you really should.
  • Choose that user name carefully. If you’re a blogger, choose something that is as close to your Google profile name, or your blog name, or your blog URL, as you can find. You are adding to your online persona, and no need to confuse everyone. We’re confused enough as it is.
  • Then the Twitter gods will ask you if people you know on other services already have a Twitter account. Automatically. The Twitter site accesses your contact lists and tells you who is out there. Yes. You can skip this step if you have a horror of the Internet finding its way too deeply into your private business.
  • Then you can invite people you know that the Twitter gods don’t think have accounts. You can skip this step too.
  • Then, do you want to follow Jimmy Buffet, Newt Gingrich, or Maria Shriver? Or other popular Twitterers.
  • You can always see what Jimmy Buffet has to say and then unfollow him later.
  • Twitter sends your email account a confirmation message.
  • Tada!
  • You will now, every time you go to www.twitter.com, see a list of 140 character statements, known as tweets, in time order, from you and all the people you have followed.
  • You might prefer to read tweets from people you know and trust. Go to the blogs of people you read and follow them.
  • Read their tweets.
  • Reply. There’s a little button just for replying. Isn’t that sweet?
  • Find some things to say that are a) funny b) useful c) inspiring. Tweet. I tend to tweet about what I am wearing or the fact that all my toilets are overflowing. You can tell I’m not aiming for inspiring.
  • Click through on the profiles of the people who reply to the people you are following. These can be found by clicking any time you see @someoneorother.
  • Follow more people.
  • People will start to follow you.
  • Some people will be like Sally Crystal, who says she is a buddhist and tweets in ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME AND SENT ME A DIRECT MESSAGE SAYING OM MANI PADME HUM HRI! TONG GI THRAM CHU DOK!
  • Unfollow them. Click!

There. Now you are on Twitter.

The only remaining issue is that you will at first want to spend way too much time there. Don’t do it. Open Twitter 3-4 times/day only. Otherwise your life will go down a rabbit hole, never to return.

There you have it. Twitter for beginners. Old beginners. But we all have to start somewhere, if only to know that we haven’t been left behind. We might change our minds later and say Bah! Humbug! But at least we get the joke.

Have a good weekend.

30 Comments

  • 01/15/10
    8:13 am

    Reply

    Jeffrey Tang said...

    A Twitter cheat sheet, without the hype. Love it. You might also want to include some popular Twitter clients (Tweetdeck, Seesmic, HootSuite, etc).

  • 01/15/10
    8:17 am

    Reply

    Giovanna said...

    this twitter cheat sheet has helped me a great deal, and i'm under 50. i signed up a while back, and followed a bunch of people, and they followed me back, but i still don't find it that useful or entertaining. maybe it's because a lot of my friends don't want to join? but i think you nailed it…maybe i'm just not engaging people in conversation, or saying anything interesting or inspiring or funny. i refrain from saying anything sometimes, because i feel like it is equivalent to talking to myself.
    ha, ok, now that i've written you a novel, i will shut up. thanks for the post!

  • 01/15/10
    8:19 am

    Reply

    Belle de Ville said...

    I've had a twitter account for some time but I just don't have the time to add one more online activity to my life. Running an internet business, blogging, skyping and answering email is enough for me to deal with.
    But, in defense of twitter, I'd like to add that it is an important method of distributing information. Durring last years anti-government riots in Iran twitter was used to warn people where government forces were and which hospitals were safe to go to for treatment.
    Today, twitter, facebook and blogs are being used to get information out about what's going on in Haiti.
    Twitter would be a good thing to have on your phone in the case of a 7.0 quake.

  • 01/15/10
    8:21 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Jeffrey, I'd like to write that post but I don't know anything about the clients:). Rank beginner here. If YOU write it, I will link. And tweet….hehe.

  • 01/15/10
    8:22 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    Jimmy Buffet?? I LOVE Jimmy Buffet! I followed him once, literally – down Worth Ave, 'til he ducked into a building. This could be better.

    What if I'm the only one at the barn party with no followers, though?

  • 01/15/10
    8:23 am

    Reply

    lauren said...

    i beg to differ; i find word of your outfits immensely inspiring.

  • 01/15/10
    8:24 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    a fun, clear guide to Twitter. For now, I'm staying on the clearly-marked, well-packed path, avoiding rabbit-holes assiduously . . .

  • 01/15/10
    8:26 am

    Reply

    Headbands and Hand Bags said...

    Way to go on the social networks! I have never used Twitter or Facebook or that other people one, My Page or oh My Space. Making the plunge into blog world was crazy enough for me!

  • 01/15/10
    8:42 am

    Reply

    Mrs. Lynch said...

    I just joined recently. I'm following you.Doesn't that sound so stalker esque? Haha. My name is Simply Sim-1. For my name is Simone.

  • 01/15/10
    8:59 am

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Twitter? You amaze me. I'm simply not ready for this, altho I loved hearing about how to do it. I have to work on increasing my actual social life these days, and not the virtual one. But I do like both!

  • 01/15/10
    9:04 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Patsy, many people are nice. Witness Lauren about my outfits. Simone, I'll follow you back:). See how it works? Mater, Maureen, if you ever come to the party, let me know. I'll meet you there. Unless I've said bah humbug and left early. That happens, some times, with parties. Right now it's in the early, haven't drunk too much, haven't met anyone too annoying yet stage.

  • 01/15/10
    9:13 am

    Reply

    Rebecca said...

    One must choose one's rabbit holes. My dilema is which to choose and how to decide! If I can only do one or two, should I continue to Blog AND Facebook or drop Facebook and Tweet?

    As you said, "We are confused enough already"!

    I need to see it all laid out neatly in a chart with the positive and negative features of each — and any others that are already out there or coming down the pike!

  • 01/15/10
    9:17 am

    Reply

    DocP said...

    I signed up for a Twitter account because our health department said they would use it to keep us updated in swine flu issues. After a few days of somewhat self absorbed posts by the director (what he had for dinner, what time he went to bed) and no real information, I stopped following.

  • 01/15/10
    9:17 am

    Reply

    DocP said...

    That should be "on swine flu iisues"

  • 01/15/10
    9:22 am

    Reply

    PPM said...

    I am not quiet 50…yet, but I can see it from here. I like twitter, but forget to update all the time. I tend to go on facebook and forget all about it! BTW…I do follow Jimmy B on twitter AND Facebook!

  • 01/15/10
    9:33 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    As Rebecca says, we choose our rabbit holes. I'm not on Facebook. It was the part about friending my children that kept me from that arena…

  • 01/15/10
    9:50 am

    Reply

    Meg said...

    You forgot to cover locked accounts vs. unlocked accounts. Unlocked accounts = people's public personas. Locked accounts = peoples personal personas. People on locked accounts will sometimes not let you follow them even if they know you in real life, or really well online (Ariel of OBB has a locked account only open to people who have been inside her real life home. My rule tends to be if I haven't had a real life drink with you in six months, you're not getting invited into my locked account.) Also, if people have locked accounts, and you are friends with them and have a public account, Re-tweeting their tweets is a huge twitter foul.

    So there is additional food for thought.

  • 01/15/10
    10:12 am

    Reply

    EntertainingMom said...

    and we like to make fun of you on Twitter too. For example, when you share the fact you have a Scrunchy in your hair we must crack jokes… and those that make you laugh, apparently, while eating yogurt and reading the Sunday papers… Twitter is Fun. It's like a light switch. I can turn it on and off quite easily.

  • 01/15/10
    10:32 am

    Reply

    Lori said...

    Definitely standing in the corner on this one. Facebook and blogs keep me on the computer far longer than I should be. And my over-50 age really shows on this one – I have a Twitter account, but I just don't get the point. But I am definitely going to follow you, LPC. I love your blog and I'm sure your tweets will be just as charming.

  • 01/15/10
    10:54 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Meg is making a very good point. Be careful. Watch what others are doing. I hope I have not yet been rude, inadvertently, but cannot guarantee it. As always, I apologize in advance. That's the High WASP approach to social media.

  • 01/15/10
    11:14 am

    Reply

    Jan said...

    I have a Twitter account. I do not use it.

    I have a Facebook account; I haven't logged in since before Christmas.

    I know HOW to use them, I just don't have time; heaven knows I waste, er, spend enough time blogging.

  • 01/15/10
    11:44 am

    Reply

    smiles4u said...

    This made my head spin. I don't twitter..cannot do one more thing in my life and I really don't get it. :) Happy weekend!

  • 01/15/10
    1:22 pm

    Reply

    thepreppyprincess said...

    Great job Miss Privilege, you are so good at this stuff. :)

    As you know, we like Twitter (PreppyPrincess is our user name), and are rather consistently inconsistent in our approach to it.

    Have an audacious weekend! (When all else fails, alliterate. "Broadcast News", 1987)
    tp

  • 01/15/10
    2:33 pm

    Reply

    Bumby Scott said...

    Hello, I am also on Twitter(BumbyScott) For me I just don't have the time to check all of the Social Media every day. I am also on Facebook. As I was taught..You should have a presence, but you don"t have to live there. Which is a good thing to know and live by. Your best chance of contact with this near 50. is my blog or e-mail or sit down and write me a letter. I will be following, I just can't spend all my time moving from one Social to another. I am not as young as I used to be.
    As Always Bumby

  • 01/15/10
    9:06 pm

    Reply

    Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

    I think I did sign up for twitter, but then never started, obviously. I can't think of anything to say, really.

  • 01/15/10
    9:22 pm

    Reply

    BonjourRomance said...

    Bonjour LPC,
    Great informative post, and so much easier to learn with your marvelous wit and humour! I've yet to enter the Twitter or Facebook universe – and I'm not over 50 yet either.
    Blogging is about the most high tech I've gone – ha ha!
    Have a great weekend and enjoy twittering!

  • 01/15/10
    10:53 pm

    Reply

    Buckeroomama said...

    I'm on Facebook and Twitter, but still learning the ropes on the latter. Although God knows how I'll learn if I'm not on it much. Thanks for the cheat sheet.

  • 01/16/10
    11:12 am

    Reply

    Red Lipstick Style said...

    I have Twitter, but I never seem to use it. I'm prohibited from using it at the office, so that eliminates the whole day! whew! Your tips are very helpful. I may get a blackberry and use it during my off hours.

  • 01/16/10
    4:22 pm

    Reply

    Lynn @Mama_Says said...

    Fabulous Twitter basics, how-to and the secret handshake all rolled into one post. Thank you

  • 01/16/10
    5:26 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Ahh, the new year. I'm rethinking my pearls (necklaces into bracelets??)and I've added LPC to my Twitter follower camp. I'm basically a wallflower and love observing others so I have their tweets on my phone and I read their blogs but I myself don't have a blog nor do I twitter as I have nothing of import to say – oh but others, they do. So much more interesting things than anything I could ever coherently state. Thanks for the fun. P.S. I did wear my Christian Siriano shoes to yet another party the other night – if I had a nickel for every compliment I received, it would have paid for the shoes :) Oh the sheer fun I had – and I had no alcohol as I was the DD.

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