Those planning to attend Renal Week, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology, are invited to Tweet the Week. A lot of those signing up for the activity have not tweeted before. Some of the nuts and bolts of the service are obvious after the sign-up process, but there are ins and outs of the Twitterverse that may not be readily apparent.
Basics of Twitter
So you have a screen name (if not, click on the logo below; all you need is a valid email to sign up). Now it is time to create your profile page. Try to come up with a photo or image of some kind to represent you online. Put some information about who you are, but nothing you don’t want strangers to see. For an example, click on the Tweet the Week logo below; it will take you to the RenalWeek profile.
You also have to make a choice about whether or not to protect your updates. If you do not, anyone on Twitter can follow you and see what you put out there. You can go through your list of followers every so often and block anyone you want (like the half-naked women whose profiles list their favorite sex act), but you will also encounter a broader, more interesting swath of people this way. If you protect, then only people who you approve can see your updates; however, this means you will have to manually OK each and every follow.
For Tweet the Week, we have chosen to keep the feed closed. Some of the followers are closed, but most are public. RenalWeek is following all of the participants. Anything tweeted by RenalWeek will be visible only to official followers.
Specific Tweet the Week Issues
If you are tweeting something general on your public feed, anyone who follows you will see it, including RenalWeek. If you want to send a message to RenalWeek that you only want the Tweet the Week crowd to see, you can direct message it. Do this by placing “D” in front of the screen name: D RenalWeek. If it is something of interest to the RenalWeek crowd, it can then be retweeted. Most twitter clients allow you to repeat someone’s tweet; this is how stuff “goes viral” and spreads quickly.
Mechanics of Twittering On the Go
You can tweet from a computer, and there certainly will be internet access in the San Diego Convention Center. Most stuff worth chatting about does not happen when you are near a screen. Luckily, Twitter was made for the mobile world, with a character limit shorter than a standard text message. You can register your cell phone and have tweets texted to you; this may drive you crazy after a while. You can also set it up so you can send tweets to the service via text message. Your usual text fees apply, so figure out ahead of time what this may cost you.
If you have a smart phone, you are in luck. BlackBerries, iPhones, and Pre’s all have Twitter clients that make participation easy and fun. There are too many to list here, and more popping up every day; a quick Google search will take you to lots of choices.
Even if you decide to limit your tweets to your laptop, you may want to check out a dedicated Twitter client. Many will let you group your followers or work with multiple accounts. I am using TweetDeck, and I have my personal account (PHLane; feed shown on the blog page above) and the RenalWeek account for Tweet the Week. A bunch of these are available; some may be downloaded via the Twitter web site, and there is a Wiki that lists many more.
I hope you decided to attend RenalWeek and to Tweet the Week with us. If you have any specific questions, ask in the comments below so others can share your answer.