I Heart... Twitter!

I do.  I *heart* Twitter!

What is Twitter?  
It's a little like blogging... only shorter and faster -- just 140 characters in each Tweet!
It's a little like IMing... only with lots and lots and lots of people at once.
And it's a little like Facebook... only different.

If you haven't checked out Twitter, do it now!

Make Some Friends -- or Followers
And, as with all social media, you'll need some friends.  And I have a few suggestions for you...
First, follow me: @AKNickerson and @ItalyArtTravel

Once you are registered, you can check for your friends on Twitter using their email addresses.  

Fridays are known as #FollowFridays on Twitter, and today @DreamofItaly has compiled an incredibly complete list of Italy Tweeters.  Make some of these great people your friends, too!

Note:  the # is often used in front of words that are "trending."  For example, when I tweet about traveling to Italy, I might tweet something like this:
Anyone want to #travel to #Italy in October?  I am taking a small group to Rome & Florence.
The # allows people seeking tweets about travel or Italy to follow those topics. 

Once You Have Followers...
To contact someone:  begin your message to that person with their ID.  For example, if you want to greet me you would tweet:
@AKNickerson Hope you are having a good day! 

The @ is very important.  Following tweets can be a bit like being at a large and crowded party... everyone is talking and having a good time, things can get a little rowdy at times... but if you want to get a specific person's attention using their ID -- or in Twitter-lingo "at-ing" them -- helps you to flag them down.  Also, if that person is not online at the moment, they can check their @s later to see what you had to say.  You can do the same.  Afterall, your friends will have lots to say to you, too!

Note:  when you @ someone, it is still PUBLIC communication.  Anyone who follows you or the other person can see what you are saying, so mind your Ps and Qs!

Telling Secrets...
If you have something private to tell someone, you will need to DM (direct message) them.  This is communication between the two of you only.  If you want to DM me, for example, you would tweet:

D AKNickerson I have some exciting news for you!

Note:  to send someone a DM, that person must be following you, and you must be following them.  If someone hasn't followed you, and you want to send them a DM, it is perfectly acceptable to tweet:

@AKNickerson Will you please follow me?  I'd like to DM you. 

More Fun...
So, that's a brief introduction to the basics of Twitter.  For more information, check out this article.  And you can always @ or DM me with questions, too.  In fact, that's one of the best things about Twitter:  there are no stupid questions.  Throw it out there -- someone will answer it!

But Wait!  There's More...
Don't forget to enter my Tweet-to-Win contest!  The contest closes today.  Enter below... the prizes are fab!

I'm looking forward to your tweets!

Photo Friday: Rome's Angels & Demons Video

Here's a little video treat for you today... the sites featured in my ebook

Rome's Angels & Demons: the Insider's Guide

And if you haven't entered the Tweet-to-Win Contest, do it!  The deadline has been extended until next Friday.  For prize information and instructions, read this.  Otherwise, you can enter below:

Ciao! Thanks for stopping by on Photo Friday. For other great Photo Friday entries, check out DeliciousBaby.com.

I Heart... Google Maps

I use Google Maps all the time.
Running errands?  Google Maps.
Looking for a friend's house?  Google Maps.  
Planning a trip?  Google Maps.

I find that they are an incredibly useful tool to organize information in addition to helping me navigate from Albuquerque to Zambia.  And you can make them either public -- which means other people can search the information on your map -- or private -- you can share it with others, but they have to be invited. I create both kinds.  For example, during Cruise Week, I had more recommendations to make than I could include in one week of blogging, so I added other restaurants and places to visit on the Cruise Week map.  That map was public -- and viewers can even make comments on the map as they use it. 

The same is true for the new Rome's Angels & Demons: the Insider's Guide Map.  The free ebook (download your copy here) has a map with the primary locations marked, but you should also check out the new Google map where every location mentioned in the book is also located on the map.  All of Rome's obelisks?  Check the map.  That spot where Raphael and his lover were caught in fragrante delicto?  Check the map.  All four Altars of Science?  Check the map!  There are more than 30 Angels & Demons-related locations in all. 

View Rome's Angels & Demons: the Insider's Guide in a larger map

I am gearing up for a 2-week trip to Ireland in June, and you can bet I'll be including Google maps when I am blogging about that trip as well.  Right now my Ireland maps are private.  I am plotting my hotels and planning daily itineraries for my travels, but when I start to blog about the trip, some of those maps will become public and part of my blog posts as well.
So, how do you use Google Maps at home and when you are traveling?
And don't forget to enter the Tweet-to-Win contest!