Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why older adults should try Twitter

9/15/2016

If you use a smart phone you’ve probably mastered text messaging and you might even have your own Facebook page. But you might not have ventured into the world of Twitter. A report issued last year by the Pew Research Center found that about half of adult Internet users age 65 or older were on Facebook compared to just 6% on Twitter.

That’s understandable. The Twitterverse can appear to be a network dominated by celebrities and politicians. And the Twitter lingo, with all those @ symbols and #hashtags, can be a little intimidating.

But you don’t have to be famous (or infamous) to find value in Twitter and the basics of tweeting are really no more daunting than text messaging. Once you catch on, you’ll find that Twitter can be entertaining, useful and often worth your time.

Here are my five reasons why adults should give Twitter a try:

Anyone can tweet

All you need to know are the basics to use Twitter. Sign up for an account at the Twitter website and choose a unique Twitter handle. It could be your name (for example, I’m @ricmanning) or something about you, like @sunflowerlover.

Twitter will suggest other users whom you might want to follow and see their tweets on your Twitter page. Use Twitter’s search box to find other Twitter accounts and topic discussions. Entering “photography” will bring up posts from National Geographic (@NatGeo) along with a slew of photographers. Enter the hashtag #sunflowers will display tweets about sunflowers. If any of the sources look interesting, click the author’s name and you’ll get their Twitter page with a button to follow them if you choose. Click it and that person’s tweets will be added to your feed.

Twitter has something for everyone

Twitter has more than 300 million active monthly users and only a tiny portion are celebrities. Whether your passion is climate change, healthy cooking, a favorite sports team, genealogy or Spanish language soap operas, there are people on Twitter talking about it and you’re welcome to join the conversation.

No “friends” required

Unlike Facebook, you don’t need to establish an online friendship to interact with other Twitter users. And Twitter is a home for online communities that are built around just about any topic.
During popular events like the Summer Olympics, an NFL football game or broadcasts of Dancing With The Stars, fans are tweeting before, during and long after the event. You can quietly follow the conversation by searching hashtags like #DWTS or #drewbrees or share your comment by adding the tag to your tweet.

Twitter can be a lifeline

People have learned to turn to Twitter in times of emergencies and disasters. When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, Twitter helped people find shelter, food and water and even request emergency assistance. Twitter also delivers news updates and advisories from media outlets, government agencies and utility companies. Twitter can be a valuable service, even if you never post a comment or send a tweet.

Twitter gives you a voice

With Twitter, you can send a message directly to any other Twitter user, whether you personally know them or not. Just use the @ and username and your message will appear in their Twitter account. You can tweet government officials to tell them how to spend your tax dollars or send a comment to an author, actor or reporter.

Twitter provides a free platform to share your opinions and it can turn you into a mini-blogger. If you start tweeting and using hashtags, people will see your comments and begin following you. Don’t assume that nobody cares about what you have to say. It’s a big world out there and you can communicate with it. Just keep your comments to 140 characters or less.



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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.

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