Hey MPers, it's come to my attention through various conversations here on MilePoint that some of our illustrious members may not be familiar with Twitter and how it can benefit us as frequent fliers. It was suggested that I put together a little primer, and I'm happy to oblige. More and more companies are beginning to use Twitter in a customer service and fulfillment capacity, and I want everyone to be able to get the most out of it. I'll start with a basic breakdown of Twitter and how it can benefit all of us as frequent fliers, then provide an explanation of the terms you're likely to come across. Finally, I'll provide a list of Twitter accounts for various airlines, and even a few of our own prolific members for reference. If you're already familiar with all of this info, or see something I missed, any suggestions for additional info are greatly appreciated. First up… What the heck is Twitter? From their website: Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. People write short updates, often called "Tweets" of 140 characters or fewer. These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search. Essentially, Twitter is a huge, continually evolving set of conversations carried out in 140 character messages. Sometimes its a one way conversation, sometimes two, and other times entire crowds participate. Ok, so how does that help me? Well, lots of ways. The one that started the idea for this post is quite simple though. Many companies, including our beloved airlines, have taken to Twitter as a new, more immediate customer service channel. The immediacy and naturally casual tone of most Twitter interactions also allows large, faceless companies to humanize their image and create and interact with their communities. A quick search of MilePoint will turn up a few interactions our members have had (to varying effect) with some of these customer service accounts. Alright, so how do I get started? Glad you asked! First, head over and set up your account. Once you're up and running, find a few friends to follow, and start talking! Uh huh… Now what? Well, there are a few terms you'll want to be familiar with before you go tweeting your face off to your new friends. Here, a breakdown of the most common: Tweet - The 140-or-less character messages that make up all of the communication on Twitter. As in: Did you see the latest tweet from @milepoint about Spirit's free miles? This can also be a verb, the act of creating and sending one of these messages, like this: .@wendyperrin just tweeted a great travel tip! Timeline - The collection of tweets from a specific account. Follow - To keep up with what your favorite users are saying, you choose to "follow" them, which places all of their public tweets in your home stream. This will let you have easy back and forth conversations, as well as give you access to up to the minute news and updates if you desire. Reply - All Twitter usernames begin with the @ symbol. When you tweet something, all of your followers can read it, as can anyone that goes searching online. If you preface your tweet with the @ symbol and someone's Twitter user name, it becomes a "reply" and is visible to those who follow you and the person you're tweeting. These are also still searchable in your timeline. They look something like this: @garyleff Hey Gary, I'm writing up a post on MilePoint about Twitter and frequent fliers, and I'm going to use this tweet as an example. As pointed out by ahow628, dropping a period or some other character in front of the @ symbol in this tweet would make it visible to all of your followers. Direct Message - Often just referred to as a DM, these tweets are prefaced with a "d" and are a private conversation between you and the recipient. They are not searchable, and will only be seen by the parties involved in the conversation. There's a caveat though; to send a direct message to someone, that person must be following you. This ensures that people aren't spammed constantly with direct messages, and provides a way to filter private conversations. A DM might look something like this: d RPerdue Hey, have you wrapped up the post yet? We were thinking of meeting up for a drink! Hashtag - A hashtag (#) denotes a topic of conversation. Clicking on the hashtag itself will link you to a list of all tweets that contain the same hashtag. While often used as an ironic joke, hashtags are how groups of users create conversations about specific topics. Many users, myself included, will track certain hashtags to maintain an ongoing conversation about a given topic. In this example, Spirit has created a hash for Mega Miles to facilitate (and track) conversation about their promotion. Clicking on it will take you to a continually updating list of all tweets that contain the #MegaMiles hashtag. @SpiritAirlines: Have you signed up for your 5,000 FREE* Miles? Registration ends TONIGHT for #MegaMiles events: http://ht.ly/4xUyc Alright, I get it! But I'm still not sure why I need this… Well, to be quite honest, you don't. But for people as inherently social as many of us are, Twitter offers another outlet for real time communication and interaction. Once you really get in to it, there's all sorts of fun stuff you can do, including grabbing free stuff from airlines, keeping up with people, even following specific MilePoint forums, as outlined here. And hey, its free! And there you have it! I know there's a lot of information here, but hopefully it was helpful for some of you. If you have any suggestions, additions, or questions please feel free to let me know, whether here or heck, on Twitter @RPerdue!