CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Whether you have an account or just hear the little bird chirps in line at the store or in a nearby cubicle, chances are you've heard of Twitter.
Twitter is a social networking site that allows people all over the world to share updates about themselves and see updates from others.
Since its introduction at the South by Southwest festival in 2007, Twitter has been swelling in popularity. And social media has caught on globally. Now 19 percent of internet users are flocking to sites like Twitter compared to just 11 percent last year.
Live 5 News caught up with some of the Holy City's top Tweeters and has the scoop on the social media movement to which Charlestonians are flocking.
GETTING SOCIAL WITH MEDIA
It may look like a typical night out with friends: drinks, dinner, conversation in one of Charleston's up-and-coming hotspots. Yet, some of these people are meeting each other for the first time -- thanks to Twitter.
"A Tweet-Up is basically a bunch of Twitter people getting together and meeting in person," said Jared Smith (@jaredwsmith), one of Charleston's more active and popular Twitter users.
Tweet-Ups are regularly organized in Charleston, providing further proof that Twitter is impacting the Charleston social media scene.
[Want to attend a Tweet-Up? Join Twitter and follow @CHSTweetUp]
According to Twello.com, a site that tracks Twitter users and allows people to look up other users based on municipal affiliation, there are almost 10 million Twitter users in the US.
Collectively, they have more that 5,000 followers of their Twitter activity.
Caldwell says "the secret is to build relationships with people and really interact with them."
But, it all depends on your reason for Tweeting. "Unlike what most people believe, you don't really tweet about what you're actually doing because most people don't care," said Caldwell. "It's a way to share information. So, if I come across an interesting link, news story or funny video, I share that."
Moore seconds Caldwell's sentiment. "I find a lot of humor in my day, so that's what I like to Tweet about," said Moore.
Smith sums up the Twitter experience as this: "At the very basics of it, it's a way to let your friends and family or complete strangers know what you're up to."
So, in 140 characters or less, you can interact with millions of other people on the web while also doing some self-promotion. "If you have a brand or a business, or if you're a celebrity it's a great way to see what people think and spread info," said Caldwell.
You can update with the stroke of a key or on the go like Moore, a CofC student. "What I really like about Twitter is how people are using it just to connect," she said. "That's the point of Twitter, to have a conversation."
And that's a conversation that doesn't seem to be flying away anytime soon. "I think it's continuing to grow and I think it's going to be a really important staple for people and especially businesses," said Caldwell.
For technophiles and social media mavens, the question is not about the ability of social media to remain an integral part of the new media equation, that's an obvious conclusion. The question centers around what format that information will be presented.
"The social impact of their tool is here to stay. Now the question is, 'will it be Twitter doing it or will somebody else come up.'"
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Regardless, Twitter is a forum where people are interacting and learning about their communities and where many people -- from newsrooms, or corporate boardrooms, their living rooms or at the next Tweet-Up -- will continue to share news and information with anyone willing to listen.
[Find out who's on Twitter at Live 5 News and get some tips on getting started.]
Twitter is a great way to communicate with other, but novices to the world of social media may want to be wary of some updates they may be tempted to post. Here are a few rules for making the most out of your social media experience:
1. Don't Tweet anything that might defame someone else's reputation -- it could land you in big legal trouble.
2. Don't Tweet about the daily routines of your day, like what you're eating or your errands. Occasional Tweets about a successfully planned and executed dish, or even a humorous cooking failures, are fine, but logging every meal of each day is overkill.
3. Be careful of the pictures you post. If you wouldn't feel comfortable with the entire world seeing a photo, including potential employers, it's better to keep it to yourself.
4. Don't Tweet anything that could jeopardize your job. As social media becomes part of the standard business procedure, sometimes you have to protect yourself -- from yourself. Companies routinely check Facebook for information about you during the hiring process and Twitter will likely become another place they check up on their possible employees. In fact, some companies are now seeking new employees with a Twitter following.
5. Avoid Tweets that refer to drug or alcohol use.
6. Don't let your followers know when you'll be out of town. It could be an open invitation for someone with bad intentions.
7. If you wouldn't share the update with a random stranger, don't post it. Sometimes the question for many people is 'how much is too much.' With everything in life, you can cross a line with too much information. If you might cringe at the thought of reading an update from one of the people you follow, it might be a good idea to clear that Tweet. But, that also goes for your address, phone number or financial information.
But what about some "Do's"?
8. Get involved and figure out the way in which you want to interact with Twitter. Are you a news hound looking for breaking news updates? Do you want to know everything going on in the celebrity world? No matter what your interests, there are people to follow.
9. Look up people where you live. Usually, people are most concerned with the places that surround them. Find out who is active in your community and start interacting. Head to a Tweet-Up.
10. Be honest. Have fun. Twitter is a new model for the very old practice of conversation. Listen to people, tell your stories, but be honest about it. If you're depicting someone other than who you really are, then you're going to miss out on a big part of Twitter -- the genuine, person-to-person, social part. It's a great opportunity to meet people you might not otherwise meet, so why start the process with something less than genuine? And have fun. If you're not enjoying yourself, you're not going to get the most out of it, and you will likely find it to be more of a chore than a fun new component to your social agenda.