I’ve been an active user of Twitter for over nine months. In that time I have come to depend on this great social-networking tool for keeping in touch with a lot of fellow photographers.

If you don’t know what Twitter is, it is kind of hard to explain. It is a micro-blogging service that allows users to post 140 character updates. These updates are then sent to other Twitter members who are “following” the user. Users can decide they follow and can block people from following them (if they desire).

The majority of the people I follow are related to photography. They are photographers, designers, industry people and the like. In keeping with this theme, the most of my updates (Tweets) are photography and tech related.

When I am working on my production iMac (usually editing images), I keep Twitter running on the second computer. I find this is a great way to keep in touch without having to be “actively” chatting with people. If I see something come across that I want to reply to, I can. Otherwise I just watch occasionally read the updates as they scroll by.

One of the best uses I have found for Twitter is using it as a source of quick information. If I have a question (again, usually photography related), I can ask it to my Twitter followers and I will usually get a pretty quick answer. As an example of this, I just asked this rather generic question on my Twitter feed:

“How many photogs carry a backup camera with them when you shoot? Is it a DSLR or Point and Shoot? Same model as primary or an older one?”

And within a minute, I’ve received a couple of replies. The first one came from local photographer Mike Calanan and the second one from St. Louis photographer Dan Zimmerman:

calanan: @leggnet Always, D700 primary, D200 backup”

danzphoto: @leggnet I ALWAYS carry a backup – shooting wedding and sports. Not responsible if you don’t. Shoot with D300, carry a D200 as backup, 2nd

(Edit: After 15 minutes, I received an additional 6 replies to the question)

One thing about Twitter that I have learned in both the updates of users I follow and my own is to provide a bit of substance. As I mentioned, I like to keep my tweets photography related and link to outside sources when relevant. There are users that blast meaningless junk into their feed, and these are the ones I avoid.

Bad Tweets (fictitious)

twittgrls123 OMG, I just at teh most AWFUL sanwich. PB with tomatos on rye. YUKKK!

mlm_guru_123 Make $10,000 this month!!! You’re an idiot if you don’t do MLM. Click this link ——> jkfdsjkldfs.com

Good Tweets (real examples)

ramseeker New blog post: How to Upgrade Memory in Apple Mac Mini 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo http://tinyurl.com/cdjh2p

hawridger New post at PB: Canon 1D Mark IIIn Rumor Update http://tinyurl.com/dn9ct2

When someone follows me on Twitter, I take a look at their last 20 or so updates and make a quick judgment on whether I want to follow them back. If I see any marketing or “Get Rich Quick” posts I don’t follow them. If I see photography or tech information, I usually will. I follow about 1/2 the amount of people who follow me.

So, how do you get started. It is simple. Go to http://twitter.com/signup and do just that, sign up. It is free and easy. Once you have your account, find a Twitter user with similar interests and click “Follow”. You can also look at who they are following and see if any of those members are ones you’d like to add to your network.

Once you’ve done that, begin posting updates and replying to others. You will be amazed at how quickly it will become a useful tool in your online life.

To follow my Twitter updates, go to http://twitter.com/leggnet