The Twitter Tutor

“We’re being taught here that it’s very important to keep communicating about any and everything just to build your ‘brand,’”

“We’re being taught here that it’s very important to keep communicating about any and everything just to build your ‘brand,’” said Ms. Cherry. “If you’re not doing that, you’re hurting yourself and your career. You’re falling behind if you’re not participating. Who knows if that’s true?”

“IS THIS STUFF SCARY, or exciting?” said Mr. Sreenivasan.

It was a week later, and he had moved on to advanced Facebook and Twitter techniques. Over the next several hours, he taught the class how to use the “lock” button on the Facebook search bar, how to create a Facebook ad and how to shorten a URL using Bit.ly.

Along the way, Mr. Sreenivasan also demonstrated a number of third-party Twitter tools, including Twitpic and Tweetstats, HootSuite and TwitterSheep. At one point, he showed how you could use a Web site called Twiangulate to find compelling people to follow on Twitter.

Now and again, Mr. Sreenivasan told cautionary tales. He showed the class a Web site called “What the Facebook?” which cataloged funny Facebook faux pas, many of which seemed to involve young people inadvertently revealing aspects of their sex life to their horrified parents. A mom told the class that her son had limited her access to his Facebook page. Heads nodded.

As the workshop wound down, Mr. Sreenivasan gave a new assignment (live-tweeting an event) and reviewed the previous week’s homework. “How hard was it to tweet twice a day?” he asked. “Anyone have trouble?” Hands flew into the air.

Mr. Sreenivasan said it was O.K. Remember the early days of email, he asked? Back then, you probably checked your email once every two days. Over time, you learned to check it obsessively. “And now you don’t get anything done,” he joked.

Give it time, he promised, and Twitter, too, would become an addiction. Get a smart phone, he said, and tweet when you’re standing in line or waiting for the bus. “Unless you get into the habit now,” said Mr. Sreenivasan, “you won’t be comfortable on Twitter when you really need it.” He paused. “Of course, you may never really need it.”

fgillette@observer.com

The Twitter Tutor