Twitter can be a confusing social networking tool to understand. The site has its own language, using words like "followers" versus "following." These two terms are the basis for Twitter. They refer to the two groups that help populate Twitter and help facilitate dialogue and interest.
Twitter made its debut in 2006 as the result of a failed podcasting platform called Odeo. When Odeo was pushed out by iTunes, its founders decided to break apart the technology. The end result was Twitter, a micro blogging site. Twitter is based on the idea of short, 140-character "tweets." These tweets are intended to answer the question "what's happening" and can range from updating friends and family on weekend plans to alerting an audience of critical world events. Twitter is a free technology used increasingly by businesses, celebrities and others who want to publicly share news and events.
How it Works
If you're interested in starting a Twitter account you must register with an email address and password. Then choose a handle or name that will represent you in the Twitter universe. A Twitter account can be made public or private. With a public account, anyone can access the user's tweets; a private account requires permission. Tweets can include photos and videos, and they can also link to Web sites for more complete information. Twitter is intended to start a conversation and users are encouraged to send tweets, reply and link to tweets in other applications like blogs and Facebook.
Followers are those Twitter users who choose to receive the tweets of other users. Some Twitter users have thousands of followers. When you're a follower, you can see the tweets of those you follow in your own news feed, respond to those tweets and also re-tweet them. Twitter displays a list of followers in each user's account so that the user knows who is receiving their tweets. Public Twitter accounts can be followed by anyone who chooses to do so; however, to become a follower of a private account, a request must be made and then accepted.
Following Twitter accounts is a major draw of the site for many people. When a Twitter account is created, the user has the ability to search the site for friends, family, businesses and others who also have Twitter accounts and begin following them. Twitter will also make recommendations based on the user's interests and offer specific categories like entertainment or books from which to find other accounts. When following a Twitter account, the user receives access to that account holder's tweets in his news feed.