Sunday, October 06, 2013

Tweetdeck 101

Click image for a larger version

I have some friends who have just joined Twitter. They are not bloggers and they do not have websites. Most, if not all of their contact with the internet consistes of email and browsing. So I thought, having gone to the trouble of defending Twitter in the past from the troglodyte hoards, I would do a short piece on how to use Tweetdeck to optimise the pleasure of using Twitter. I suggest that, before going any further, you read that earlier piece to get a broader perspective on what you may be at.

You first need to download Tweetdeck and then give it permission to access your Twitter account.

You will then be able to manage your Twitter account from a single multicolumn console (above).

The default columns (you can open others) are first of all your timeline. Here you will see your own tweets and those of people you choose to follow. In the next column you will see those tweets which are either addressed to you specifically or in which you are mentioned (ie tweets in which your twitter id - @me - appears). In the next you will see your interactions with others. This will include some of the tweets in the previous column but also cases where people have retweeted your tweet or have made it a favourite of theirs. These are your principal columns.

Then you can create (and delete) additional columns. For example if there is someone you are not following but want to keep an eye on what they are up to, you can create a column specially to monitor them. I have done so (temporarily) for Eilis O'Hanlon of the Sunday Independent while I was having a barney with her. It enabled me to see what she was saying to others (including about me). And, as you will see from the image above, I am keeping an eye on Fr. Tony Flannery at the moment.

So let's start with the controls down the left hand side.

The blue square on the left will open a box in which you can compose your tweet (more below).

The wee magnifying glass will open a search box.

The remainder, above the separator, will simply align your display on any particular column. These are only relevant when you have a clatter of columns stretching way off screen to the right. Hovering the cursor over a box will show a tooltip identifying the column in question.

The plus sign, below the separator, opens a box which allows you to (i) temporarily view various aspects of other people's activities, and (ii) open a more permanent additional column on this if you wish. This column (like any other) can be deleted at will. (see below)

There is a small triangle at the top right hand side of the column titles. Clicking on this will give you the box above. The first three rows allow you to control a search function within the column. These are quite sophisticated and can give you a lot of control of your search. However the search only applies to what is in the column and if you take my advice below on clearing columns when you shut down Tweetdeck, that may not be much. There is an easier way of doing a more fundamental search which I will outline below.

The fourth row allows you to choose whether or not to preview any images which may accompany tweets and to determine the size of the preview. This setting applies to all tweets in that particular column.

The bottom row is what you will be mainly concerned with at this stage. On the right, the red bin allows you to delete the column (permanently, unless you choose to recreate it later). The middle bit does what it says on the tin. It clears the column of tweets. I do this each time I am about to shut down Tweetdeck. This means that when I come back I have only new tweets in the column. If you are shutting down in a hurry and haven't time to read existing tweets or follow their links, you can just leave them there till the next time. The arrows allow you to shift the whole column to the left or right.

The search function (magnifying glass in the earlier image above) can be quite sophisticated, and you are better getting used to that than relying on individual column searches. Before you use it for any complicated stuff you should go to this page and click on the link labelled "operators". You can search for tweets from individuals, to individuals, containing or not containing particular words/phrases etc. There are hours, if not days, of potential sleuthing fun in this.

At the bottom of each tweet you will see either the word Details or view, and if you hover the cursor over the row you will also get the other symbols shown above.

Details will expand the tweet and show you if it has been retweeted and whatever replies it has evoked. View will show you the tweet to which it is replying, and if you continue clicking view on each additional tweet as it appears you can follow the whole conversation backwards to the original tweet which gave rise to it. This is very useful as it gives you great control without cluttering up your console.

As far as the symbols are concerned: the backarrow opens a box to reply to the tweet. If you use this, your tweet will be included in the conversation chain referred to above. The double arrow lets you retweet the tweet, and you are offered a choice of a straight retweet or one which you can modify or add to (remember the 140 char limit). The dots (ellipsis) open another box giving you the series of options below:

These do what it says on the tin. The main one to keep an eye on here is the block function. You will probably find tweets from suspicious unknown characters turning up in your timeline. Be careful not to click on any links in these tweets; they can take you to malicious sites which could either enhance your porn experience (at a price) or simply feck up your computer or take it over. Blocking these tweets not only protects you and means that particular person will not show up on your screen again, but it can be an exhilarating experience in itself.

So, now that you have got the hang of what other people are doing, you'll probably want to tweet yourself.

Click on the blue box and you get the above. It is fairly self-explanatory. You can tweet up to 140 characters (including spaces etc.). The counter will let you know how many you have left and if you go over the limit it will not tweet. As some urls are quite long, it sets a limit on how many characters even the longest url can use up. You will probably find this consideration very useful.

You can add an image from your computer to your tweet. It is good practice to limit both the dimensions and filesize of images, if you are in a position to do so. There may be further restrictions introduced on adding images as I notice that some people are using them to circumvent the 140 char limit and Twitter will, no doubt, eventually catch on to this.

You can schedule a tweet for future release. This can be useful if you are tweeting reminders or anniversaries or the like, so you can have them prepared in advance.

And you can send a direct message to one of your followers, and only them, which will not be seen by anyone else.

So, hopefully there is enough in the above to give you the confidence and knowledge to enjoy your new Twitter/Tweetdeck experience.

If you spot any gaps, please leave a comment below and I'll try to fill them.

Happy Tweeting.

1 comment:

Seán Ó h-Éigeartaigh said...

Really excellent for this here Novice. Tks a mill.