Sunday, 19 February 2012

So you've decided to join Twitter...

Welcome, follower. You might recognise me from such conversations as 'Bah, I don't see the appeal of Twitter at all' and 'Twitter's just people chatting about what they had for breakfast, isn't it?' Forget those now. They never happened.

Hang on, don't I know you IRL? By your blank-faced response to my acronym I'll assume you've not been here long… oh yes, look. Four followers and an egg for an avatar. You haven't.

So you've decided to join Twitter. Congratulations! What finally did it? The masochistic limitations of the character allowance? The way newspapers now just report tweets instead of real quotes? The chance to start over with new people who've never seen your Marbella '08 album? Stephen Fry?

If it's that last point, we'd better warn you now - it's not really *about* Stephen anymore. We've moved on. He has too - he's out of the broken-down lift and everything.

But wait, stay - it's still fun here! Look, here's your official welcome pack. It's got a framed picture of your family, a novelty wrist rest in the shape of that little blue bird, and a catheter, 'for luxury duvet days'. Oh and there were some complimentary biscuits too, but we ate them in 2009 while we were waiting.

Image from www.denverstreetfood.com

So anyway, where've you been? Oh that's right, Facebook. And at work, and spending time in the same room as people whose surname name you know. Well that's all going to change now. You don't need to go out, or do your hair nice. Your personal hygiene levels are about to become a little more theoretical too.

We're a little bit different here, you see - there are a few more semi-political gags, a few less photos of people you went to school with's infant offspring - but you'll adapt pretty quickly. Swap your exclamation marks for CAPITAL LETTERS, that's a good place to start. Oh, and don't waste your finger muscles tweeting at celebrities. You'd be better served screaming pithy replies into a vacuum.

A few things you should know before you begin: 1) contrary to popular opinion, you CAN tweet about what you're eating for breakfast. But only if it has some entertaining merit, and not if it involves wheatgrass. 2) Do not fear hashtags. Think of them as Twitter nutmeg - tasty when sprinkled in moderation, potentially fatal in high doses. 3) Don't brag. Don't even humble-brag. If you must tell someone about your career success/expensive new flat/dinner with the Middletons, try writing it on a napkin followed by lots of exclamation marks, then burning it and throwing the ashes out the window. 4) If you retweet a Follow Friday, somewhere a kitten dies.

What's that? You feel as if nobody's paying attention to anything you're tweeting? Don't worry - that's because they're not. You have four followers and three of them are pornbots. But stick at it! It's going to be a beautiful journey.

You should now be ready to start your life as a Tweeter. Good luck. And remember - if you cock it up, there's always Google +.

If you would like a fun Twitter factsheet featuring guidance from experts including Joey Barton and Tom Watson's intern, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the address below.

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