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Getting Started on Twitter Yourself

1. What is Twitter?   A ton has been written about this, so I suggest watching this video - Twitter in Plain English - on YouTube if you still don't get it or wonder why people like using it.

2. How to sign up for a Twitter account?  Again, there are lots of tutorials out there.  Try this video - Twitter Tutorial - Getting Started.

3. How do you add a URL to a tweet?  Here's how I add a URL (a website's address) to a tweet to suggest things to read or watch to my followers.

(1)  I open up two windows or tabs on my internet browser.

(2)  In one window or tab, I log into my Twitter account and type the non-URL part of my tweet in the "What's happening?" message area. For example, I typed "Great video of a talk by Benjamin Zander at" in the message area.

(3)  In the other window or tab, I look up the webpage I want to send people to and go there. For example, I used Google to find the "Benjamin Zander TED talk on passion" and went to the URL for that TED Talk: "http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html".

(4)  In the URL address bar of my internet browser, I highlight the URL I want to cite in my tweet, then I copy it.

(5)  I go back to the other window or tab to the "What's happening?" message area on Twitter and paste the copied URL into the tweet.

(6) To "post" the tweet, I click on the "update" button under the message area.

If sent from my personal account, the tweet will look in my followers' timelines like this:

@ruthbshields Great video of a talk by Benjamin Zander at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html 

4. Giving yourself more room for more content in your tweets by using a shortened URL:

That URL was pretty long, so I couldn't say much about the video itself in the 140 character limit Twitter places on tweet length.

For this reason, many URL-shortening tools have been created.  You can sign up for a free account at websites that do the shortening for you and save the shortenings for your ongoing use.  Two such sites that I use are: bit.ly and budurl.com.  I added a bookmark folder called "SHRINK" on my bookmark menu bar on my Firefox browser, and both these sites are bookmarked there. 

Anytime I need to shorten a URL for tweeting, I perform steps 1-3 above, and land on the page I want to cite in my tweet. 

Instead of step (4) above, I then do the following:  While on the page I want to cite in my tweet, I click on the SHRINK folder and its menu drops down, offering me the choice of bit.ly or budurl.com to shorten the URL.  I usually click on bit.ly, which opens another tab containing the bit.ly page for my bit.ly account with a shortened form of the URL ready for me to copy.  There is a COPY button on bit.ly page, and I click that button to copy the shortened URL.  From there, I go back to step (5) above, and paste the shortened URL into my tweet.

Here is what it looks like after tweeting when I used bit.ly to shorten the Zander URL:

@ruthbshields Great video of Benjamin Zander talking about classical music and passion, and being 100% confident in your vision - on http://bit.ly/bdr0X8

It's your turn to try this!  Let me know what happens!