Top tips for Twitter fledglings

I have confessed before on these pages to being a Twitter addict.

And I am also a bit of a One Direction fan. They’re a nice bunch of young fellas and their music doesn’t make my ears bleed.

A recent survey by Peerindex placed the boy band at the number one spot in the league of Twitter influencers. This was based, not just on their followers (too many millions), but also their Twitter reach. They may be nice boys, but they really don’t have much to say that would be of interest to anyone other than their very young female fans. So, I don’t follow them. Well that’s a bit of a lie. I do follow Niall Horan but that’s only because it occasionally allows me to inform my 13 year old daughter of titbits of Niall trivia before she hears them. Although she’s beginning to think that’s a bit creepy!

However, reading about One Direction’s conquest of the social media platform is something that can often put potential new Twitter users right off. Many non-tweeters have the impression that Twitter is full of trivia about what people had for their breakfast. But to think that, is to completely misunderstand how the site works. The beauty of Twitter is that you decide what you want to see. So if you want to just read tedious trivia from celebrities, you can, by following lots of celebrities.

But to harness the true power of Twitter you need to think clearly about what interests you and make sure you follow the kind of people you would like to talk to, if you were invited to a wonderfully eclectic party. So if you are into writing, follow lots of writers, if you are into cooking there are lots of chefs and food writers and fellow foodies to follow. You get the idea — Twitter reflects society – it is full of all kinds of everyone.

I know that initially Twitter can seem like quite a challenge, so I have put together a list of some of my favourite tweeters to help you get started.

No matter what your interests are, we all need to laugh and Twitter does good comedy. The limit of 140 characters is particularly suited to the Irish penchant for cuttingly, biting hilarity.

Comedian Colm Tobin (@colmtobin) is a Twitter legend. Colm writes comedy, and as he says, he is not the writer fella.... and he’s not Eleanor Roosevelt. The other great comedy account is Irish Mammies (@irishmammies) which is the account that led to last Christmas’s Book of Irish Mammies and is the brainchild of another comedian, Colm O’Regan. Sligo woman Annie West (@anniewestdotcom) is not a comedian but an illustrator who is brilliantly funny.

There are lots of parody accounts that are worth checking out too. Everything from the Pope to the Downing Street Cat. One of my favourite Irish ones is NotTheRTEGuide (@yourRTEguide).

For current affairs you should follow newsman Gareth O’Connor (@garethoconnor) who is now managing editor at Today FM News. Commentator and business woman Glenna Lynch (@glenna_lynch) is also worth a follow for insightful and incisive commentary on the political goings on. I also recommend commentator and disability rights campaigner Suzy Byrne (@suzybie). Finally, there is a chap in North Cork who is both a witty and engaging tweeter who has recently taken to writing very interesting blog posts, commenting on the state of the nation. He is Donal O’Keeffe (@donal_okeeffe).

Twitter can also be of very practical use in your day-to-day life. If you use the roads regularly you should definitely follow @AARoadwatch, @gardatraffic and @gardainfo. And if, like me, you like to dry your washing on the line as opposed to in the dryer you could try to keep abreast of the rain by following our friends at Met Éireann (@meteireann).

Many radio programmes have their own Twitter accounts now. This allows followers to know in advance what is coming up on a programme and to interact directly with the programme too.

But Twitter really comes into its own when watching TV. So make sure you work out how to check out the hashtag for your favourite programme. A hashtag allows you to search for tweets on a particular subject, or in this case, programme. The Late Late Show is made far more interesting in the company of tweeters, many of whom make an art of the witty moan. Twitter will also alert you to good programming you might otherwise miss. I began watching the wonderful Danish drama Borgen, thanks to Twitter.

So what are you waiting for? Get involved in the banter. Set up your Twitter account. And if you want help, just shout. I am @barbarascully.


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