What is the use of Twitter? What to do with Twitter?

I am a Facebook user for years, but I can’t figure out what I can do with Twitter. What is the use of Twitter? This is probably the question most frequently asked by our cyber-readers.
The two social networks, Twitter and Facebook, gain popularity almost at the same time, but apart this, they don’t have much in common, even the user “type” who uses them has different abilities and behaviors.
Facebook is a simple tool very intuitive that provides a space where the user can openly share his thoughts, post images, make remarks, a sort of personal diary based especially on the bond between people, on the personal network of friendships and relatives.
The Facebook user can daily organise his own space sharing his own “post-thoughts” often enriched with images, commenting the posts of his friends, playing, creating albums with photos of his holiday and so on…
Twitter is a social tool as simple as Facebook, characterized by great potentialities, but whose principles (rules) of use are not immediately deducible. First of all the space to share the “tweet-thoughts” is not unlimited; the user has 140 characters to express a concept, a rather significant limit, especially for the “type” user Facebook, used to think (and post) limitless.
What shall we propose in 140 characters??? Short comments, value judgments, aphorisms, but above all, suggestions and references to other contents present online.
A tweet example?
“I have found this fantastic BLOG that reports the latest of internet #internet #sociology
This tweet is of 113 characters (there are 27 left!!) and contains a suggestion, two hashtags or rather words that mark it (tag it) and the link to be selected for reading the mentioned blog.
Therefore on Twitter we can insert “simple sentences” direct and immediate or “suggestions” to look into somewhere else, but we cannot tell anything we rather underline, “we launch“, we provide a further reading, points to be consider or discussed.
Other important rules to keep in mind on Twitter:

  • Every tweet must be meaningful, it can’t be written a text of 1.400 characters in ten tweets one after another because it doesn’t make sense; nobody will read in sequence your tweets.
  • Avoid the Q&A, if you want to answer to a tweet use the function “reply“.
  • If you want to quote a certain user in the tweet, you can write his name adding the character ‘@ ‘ before it. The user will receive a notification and maybe he will participate in the debate. You may quote our @Mondo2puntozero only to practice your twitter use.
  • If you have just read a tweet that you like and you want to share it, you can do it through the action called “retweet“. The retweet brings the original source without modifying it in any way.
  • Twitter is a tremendously fast tool and only the most reactive and trendy users keep up with it.

What are the strong points of this “synthetic” social network? The first one is exactly the hashtag, if a tweet is tagged, through one or more words preceded by the character “#”, your message will be aggregated with all the other tweets that have the same tag and it will be read by all the users who are interested in that precise topic (suggested by that tag). Our example tweet will be proposed together with all the tweets that contain the term #sociology along with all the tweets that contain the term #internet. The users who look for inspiration in the sociological or technological area may track it down with a simple search.
The aggregative power of a hashtag is very strong; for example I can write a comment with the tag #xf8 and right away get aggregate with all the tweets devoted to the TV Show XFactor , the eighth edition. Some of the radio transmissions and TV programs have found in this tool a “bridge” toward internet, every user has a say and the best tweets are made public during the transmission or, if they are lucky, in some of the TV programs they appear at the bottom of the video screen.
Then, of course, overturning the principle, I can look for the hashtags present online and read the most recent “tweet-thoughts” of other users, browse dynamic lists, always updated by suggestions on the matter; for instance regarding my favorite musical band (let’s say #queen) or my favorite football team or the current final (for instance #JuveLazio see the following image), or the gossip scandal of the moment, or the political reform under discussion in parliament and so on…
Twitter provides also a funny service, a sort of Hit of the most used tags of the last period, always up-to-date and available also per places, allowing us to participate in the most trendy, popular or “of the moment” debates. The service is visible on our twitter space, on the box “trends” as well as callable online as TwitterTrends (here also in mobile version).
Twitter allows us therefore to follow the latest trends, dynamically aggregated through the hashtags. Each of us can follow, on twitter, debates on topics of interest or just debates on trendy terms.

twitter_trendsAs a matter of fact, Facebook provides the possibility to insert hashtags into the text as well as to find them, but the application by users is until now very limited, also because the Facebook user likes above all to tell about himself and share everything with his friends, there is often a bond between the “posts”, while the aggregation for tag is extremely casual and extemporaneous, often functional with the current fashion.
What about our friends? With Twitter the plot of friendships is less determining comparing to Facebook, maybe for the characteristics listed before or rather for the shortness of the exchanged messages as well as the possibility that these ones may end up aggregated on many lists on the bases of the tags presence.
You can choose online the users who write the best tweets, similar to your interests, obviously your friends too, and follow them through the action called “following“. In this way on the central part of your space twitter, after the insertion of the password, you can read the tweets regarding the topics or persons you intend to follow. The list of the tweets sent by those who interest you is always updated.

lista_FOLLOWINGVice versa for those who consider your Twitter interesting; they may follow you becoming your followers.
Unlike Facebook, the absence of bonds and the failed popularity is not a big limit; I may not have friends (followers) and I may not want to follow anyone (followings), but I sure may quote online other users or through ‘@’ debate with them, or reply or retweet or comment on “trendy” arguments.
You don’t need virtual friends to use Twitter!! The important thing is to be, to browse attentively the other twitters and, of course, follow @Mondo2puntozero.
In essence, the element that characterizes the great Twitter users is the agility, the ability to read and move among topics.
Today the popularity starts with a tweet: politicians, men and women in the performing arts, journalists, sportspeople, eminent scientists, … everyone run after the “right” hashtag with the aim of reaching higher popularity.
So what are you waiting for? Create your Twitter user, insert your first tweet suggesting a site you like then try to follow the current trends and, above all, our @Mondo2puntozero.


The power of icons and symbols

Sometimes to describe innovation needs to take some back steps in order to analyse consolidated habits, to assert the importance of our instincts, to set the correct attention toward our past.
So a premise is needed; a premise whose double misfortune is to be born in a blog, and therefore to be extremely synthetic and to have the undersigned as author.
For thousands of years, man was exposed to the elements, dangers, all sorts of traps and enemies of any kind, including himself, but he always managed to get off. This has been possible thanks to a mixture of intelligence, common sense and attention toward everything that surrounds us . He tried all along, and often succeeded in taking advantage from events, in transforming the environment and the resources at his disposal on his purposes, albeit not always praiseworthy.
The use of senses, the animal perception of danger applied to the ability to find new solutions, has opened us uncountable ways, it allowed us to reach the level of life we live today.
The progressive increase of social complexity has only partially calmed our instincts, our need to attentively observe all that surrounds us, to seize the signs, to perceive new stimulus, to shape our present and future. Such abilities made us first shamans then popes, physicians, explorers, scientists. Such abilities taught us how to dress, in other words changed us.
We became conscious of us as Homo Sapiens with a history behind, our own history, rich of totem, of altars, of fashions, of new geometries, of imposing architectures, of innovative status, but also of symbols and icons.
Progress has never obstructed the value of symbols, whose significance went hand in hand with culture, democracy, innovation although sometimes anachronistically and even dramatically.
Web we are living today, the new virtual dimension, follows this indelible trace placing icons and symbols on a par, at least on a par with services and contents.
The simplest way to recognize an expert internet user is to verify his knowledge and skills in using symbols. The expert internet user knows that “that” symbol implies “that” service.
The icon, the symbol correlated to the service becomes the service itself, whose success passes also for the liking process, the fondness and the empathy that internet audience succeed in showing towards what it believes to represent its own image.
The first example is that of feed RSS, the subscription service, practically always free where news and contents on line come to be available directly on your own browser (or on a feed reader). The orange icon, symbol of the feed rss service, draws immediately my attention, it pushes me to click, to select the feed, to evaluate my true interest for that type of information.
Another example of a widely diffused symbol on web is the “I like“, true social brand, synonymous of “easy”, “immediate”, “sharable”, “attractive”, an outright global-popular phenomenon. It is not a coincidence if one of the most web popular symbols evokes a symbol and an ancient use, that of the gladiatorial judgment in the ancient Rome, this testifies how the use of icons and symbols is strongly deep-rooted in our history.
A small note taken from Wikipedia: the upward thumb (or horizontal), suggested the gladiator’s death and not his survival, over time we transformed an extremely negative symbol in a positive one, so symbols evolve and adapt themselves to the times.
Crossing a forest of symbols in which the birdie of Twitter chippers, we find useful the arrows that allow us to continue (our navigation), a lens that allows us to search better, an “X”  to get away from there, an envelope to write to a friend, a small printer to get an useless copy on paper, a gear to refine our research, a Shopping cart to buy what we like and so on….
Allow me to set two other important examples: the Apps, applications for mobile smartphone and tablet, are symbols themselves, you can use them by selecting the frame with their symbol; the application of a social contribution toward the network of friends or colleagues takes place by selecting the symbol corresponding to social network, a true global logo. In all these cases, it is a matter of symbols turned to be habitual for the internet user, easy to select, fast to use, coherent in behaviors, often similar to other symbols or real objects used in the past.
There is nothing new to be learned, just keep counting on our senses, our sensibility and intelligence so as to recognize and use the new services. Once more we find ourselves into the jungle, into a virtual one, and all we have to do is consign ourselves to our observation capacity to come out at our best.
I conclude this brief article with two suggestions. The first one is for users: let yourselves capture by symbols, colors, images and forms, just click and experience. The second one is for the web designers: do not underestimate the power and primordial charm of symbols. I have personally managed portals where the substitution of textual contents with symbols has determined unthinkable increases in terms of access and use of services.  I also invite you to not underestimate the application of simple solutions, do not hesitate to use colors on your blog or site or portal, leave the right space to images, do not use only the description, furthermore if it is a large one, this cannot be enough for a new web.
In the “virtual world”, the icon represents the most efficient way of a service presentation, the great web audience doesn’t see or expect something else.
A good content and a good service, must be sustained by a symbol, a clear connotative expression of the service itself.
Collaborate and participate, but do not forget to do it using icons and symbols.