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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

A Primer on Twitter

Published May 19, 2010 10:00 AM by Cheryl McEvoy

Are you on Twitter? If you're like most of my friends, you've embraced Facebook and LinkedIn, but tweeting just has no appeal. No one cares what you ate for dinner--I agree. You'd prefer to keep doctor's appointments and shopping trips private--that's warranted.

But when it comes to business use, those tweets can be a quick way to get big exposure. Twitter is basically a chatterbox of networking opportunities. Sure, the messages are brief, but get a mention from, say, APTA, or a shout-out from a grateful client and--BAM!--you suddenly have a few dozen (or hundred or thousand) people wanting to learn more about your services. And plenty of PTs are already tweeting away.

Now, this wasn't meant to be a pitch for Twitter. If you're interested, try it out. (And while you're at it, take our Twitter Tour to learn how to send a message to ADVANCE.) To avoid complete disorientation when you hop on the site, here's a quick glossary of Twitter terms:

Tweet: Any public message sent via Twitter. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but can include links.

@: Denotes a reply (also known as an "at reply"). Type @ before an individual's username when you want to send a message to them, i.e. "@ADVANCEforPT Love the new look of your homepage!" Beware--these replies are visible to everyone.

DM: Direct message. Type d before an individual's username to send a private message to that person. Twitter now offers a dropdown menu with usernames when you type "d," so it's even easier to pick exactly whom you want to message.

RT: Retweet. When a tweet catches a user's eye, they'll tweet the same message with "RT @[username]" at the start of the text to indicate the source. For example, "RT @ADVANCEforPT We're looking for a new student blogger!" (That's true, by the way. E-mail cmcevoy@advanceweb.com if you want to join our blogger community.)

Follow: The equivalent of "Friending" on Facebook. Follow someone to see any public tweets they send. On your Twitter homepage, the people you follow will be listed under "Following" and the people following you will be listed under "Followers."

It sounds complex but, trust me, it's one of those "easy to do, harder to explain" concepts. Share your experiences below, and let us know what success you find through tweeting!

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