Yes, I am a Twitter person. Normally, I would get to blame Abby for my being on or using some form of social media, but I actually had an account before she did. She, however, uses it much better than I do (as you can tell by reading this site).
But it does bring me to a question I get asked a lot by friends: “What’s so great about Twitter?”
I think Twitter is useful to different people for different reasons. Of all the mainstream social networks, I personally think this one has the broadest appeal. It facilitates a lot of real-time communication to a very broad audience very easily – and most importantly from a lot of different sources.
For example, you can tweet with:
- A computer with a browser,
- A computer with a third-party aggregation tool (like TweetDeck or HootSuite),
- A smartphone with either a browser or Twitter application, or
- A feature phone (also known as a non-smartphone) via SMS Text Messages.
Needless to say, no shortage of ways to get the message out. For me, it’s either TweetDeck or the Twitter (from Twitter) app for my phone. Ive used the app for both the BlackBerry and iOS, and it works very well.
Enough about the “how”, the real reason for this is the “why”. As I mentioned, Twitter is different things to different people:
- Social Sharing (its original intent and most frequent use)
- Rapid Data Dissemination
- Crowdsourcing Ideas
- News Gathering and Filtering
- News Reading (think of it as a really thin and streaming RSS feed)
For me, I’d probably rank my top three reasons for using Twitter like this:
1. News Feed
Any more, I get most of my news from Twitter. The stream can be overwhelming, so it takes some time to find the right people to follow that tend to cover the news areas of most interest to me. Managing the “follows” means making changes from time to time, to keep the most interesting things in my timeline. In addition to these, I also use a couple of lists (more for TweetDeck purposes than anything else) that bring together a more eclectic group of sources.
So why not use RSS? Because of its streaming nature, old news goes by and becomes just that – old news. When I open my timeline, I see what’s current. Not only is it current, it’s succinct: there’s only 140 characters to get the point across, so if it doesn’t catch my attention, I usually don’t read it. It’s also very unfiltered – you tend to hear more of the real person in the tweet, as opposed to a vanilla, politically correct media persona.
2. Social Sharing/Crowdsourcing Ideas (tie)
Ok, I know I have four, and it’s a top three. It really was a tie.
I share what I think is interesting and of value to those who follow me. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of replaced my use of Google Reader sharing – and since Googzilla has chosen to kill that feature, it’s probably a good idea I replace it anyway.
I’ve also found, and not just from my own needs, that tossing a question/thought out to Twitter tends to elicit responses from the community. Got a problem or something odd, and you need a sanity check to see if it’s just you? Twitter is a great place to do that.
A day without a laugh from something posted on Twitter is a boring day. Add @MeetingBoy, @DrunkHulk or @TheOnion to your feed and your you’re guaranteed something pretty funny. Not all of them are suitable for all ages, so spend some time looking at their timelines before adding them to yours.
That’s what makes Twitter interesting to me. What about you?