Want to do something to help the earth? Try Twitter! It’s a social networking website which anyone can join for free, and many thousands of people and businesses have. You can find people who share your interests and communicate with them via 140-character posts. You wouldn’t think you could say much in a tweet, as these posts are called, but you really can, by shortening urls and writing succinctly.
Still, I was on Twitter for over a year, just tweeting now and then, before I realized its power. I just used it casually, in connection with my interest in dog training. But recently I decided to see if it could help me do more in greening the earth. I have found many other people on Twitter who share this interest. They comment and pass along links to informative websites; I didn’t sleep well after reading too many of those articles late one evening, but overall I am greatly encouraged to connect with so many people around the world who care and think about what’s going on with our planet. For example, here’s a story about how twitter beat the mainstream media on an environmental disaster in Tennessee.
Go to www.twitter.com and sign up for a free account. You will need to choose a username. Since Twitter allows multiple accounts, you may want to choose a name that reflects a specific interest.
Your homepage at twitter will become twitter.com/ followed by your new username. Go there and watch the tweets scrolling down. Someone will be describing their lunch, someone else using cryptic abbreviations, someone else ranting, somebody asking advice, and others posting funny-looking links to websites. Don’t expect it to make much sense just yet.
Once you’ve done that, go to your settings page and put in your name. I used my real name but if you are not comfortable doing so, then don’t. Whatever you put will be publicly viewable. If you have a website, there is a place to put it and this will get you some traffic. There is also a link to a page that tells how you can put your twitter activity into your website.
Next there is a place for a one-line bio which can be up to 160 characters in length. This turns out to be more important than you might think, as other people will decide to follow you partly based on what you say here. After a feeble start, I ended up saying: Resources, reviews, reflections on simple green living: dwellings, food, gardening, health, transport, community, etc., from old hippie librarian. You can change this later.
Do upload a picture or an image. Nothing screams “Newbie!” louder than the default image twitter puts in. I used a photo of myself because I think it helps me stand out as a specific person in the fast-moving pace on Twitter, but I also notice that some logos stand out too.
Now go ahead and post a few tweets. Make them interesting and useful, as some people will check out your activity to decide whether to follow you.
I suggest you head for the twitter search page. Once there, search for a word or phrase that interests you. If it’s a phrase, put it in quotes. Even using the word green will get you started, though you’ll be seeing tweets about green tea or green apples too.
Some of the tweets will interest you. Right-click on the usernames next to the images, and open several in new tabs. Then take a look at their pages. (You can get ideas for your own page background, discussed later, from theirs.) You can read several of their recent tweets. If you decide you would like to follow them, click on Follow in the little gray box.
Notice in the upper right area of the screen, for each profile you’ll see the number of people they are following, the number of people that are following them, and how many updates (tweets) they have posted. Click on either following or followers, and a page will load showing the usernames and images. If you hold your cursor over the usernames, you will see the bios and you can decide whether or not you want to follow the person or business; you can also go to their twitter page. So click away, and soon you will be following a bunch of people. I hope you’ll follow me: http://twitter.com/#!/simplegreenlvng
I suggest you just do a couple dozen or so now, and then make this an ongoing activity. The reason to do just a few now is that many people will follow you back when you follow them, and they will be more likely to follow you if you seem interesting.
You can do all your twitter activity from your twitter webpage, but there are other options.
There are a variety of ways to have your blog posts automatically turned into tweets. Be aware that if this is all you do, people may well consider you a spammer. You need to take part in the community discussions to have a genuine presence. I’m not doing this now, but plan to when I travel… since I blog on WordPress, I can set up my blog posts for future dates and have them automatically tweet. I am waiting for a plugin that you can use with cli.gs because I like their tracking so much: http://www.joedolson.com/articles/wp-to-twitter/ can be used now and he’s currently working on how to get it to do future-dated blog posts.
http://twitpic.com allows you to post pictures into twitter. You can use Twitpic from within Tweetdeck. Looked to me like any pictures you posted would be available for others to put on their sites with some code at Twitpic.
A useful way to find more people to follow is to follow at http://twitter.com/MrTweet and he will send you an email.
You can customize your page background via the settings, and you can do a custom background if you wish. I got a free one at www.tweetbacks.com and added images and text in Photoshop Elements. I don’t think this is necessary, but it’s a professional touch and another way to make yourself accessibly. People put their contact data on the screen this way frequently.
Be sure to make Twitter a regular part of your daily activities, as there are so many ways that it can help you become more active environmentally. You’ll be able to keep up with any aspect of green living that interests you by choosing the people you follow. You can be inspired by what some of them are doing. You can find blogs to read, green product information, and more.
Do also make time to make changes in how you use resources, or none of the knowledge will affect our earth… I believe that humanity is in for some rough times ecologically (they have already started, no doubt you have noticed), and that whatever each of us does to live more simply can make a difference in how severe the changes are. – Zana Hart, simplegreenliving.com
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