Why I use (and love) Twitter.

Though I had a Fresno Friday post planned for today, a thoughtful conversation I had with a few folks on Twitter this morning prompted me to jot down this post instead.



In conversations with friends, when Twitter comes up, I often hear things like "I don't get Twitter, what's the point? I can update my status on Facebook." or "Yeah, I started a Twitter, but I never use it."  I can totally understand why people would feel this why, as that is how I felt when I first started using Twitter too- "what's the point?  It's just Facebook without space for more than 140 characters" but what I learned is that it CAN be SO much more- it's all in how you utilize it!

The following are ways that I've used Twitter that have made it an enriching social networking tool in my life.
1. Don't use Twitter to just follow your "IRL" (in real life) friends.  They likely are already on your Facebook and you know how to reach them by phone.  If all you do with Twitter is follow people you already know, it will just feel like another place to read/post your Facebook type status updates.

2. Start by following a few people, expand your network through common connections.  If someone says something you find interesting, follow them for a bit and see if you enjoy interacting with them.  Continually expand the list of people you follow by branching out through common connections.

Example: If I follow my IRL friend, @Alisa_M and she posts a tweet "I can't wait for all the yummy food at the #tritipcookoff"... #tritipcookoff is marked with a # sign- which means if anyone else labels their tweet as being about the #tritipcookoff (by simply typing the same phrase with a # in front of it), by simply clicking on that "hashtagged" phrase, you'll see EVERYONE who talked about the cook off and what they said.  From there, you can interact with those people and maybe follow a few new folks you may meet if you are planning to attend the cook off as well.

3. Interact with others often.  If someone says something particularly poignant or hilarious, retweet it and share it with others.  @ message others frequently.  Offer affirmation, a different view point, other ideas and information.  Post your own updates regularly.  Following 657,869 people but never interacting takes a lot out of the Twitter experience.

4. Make your tweets easy to read.  Don't spend a lot of time using programs that allow you to "tweet longer" so that someone has to click a link to finish reading your thought.  Condense your thought, make it concise, or split it into a couple of tweets.  If you post a link, shorten it utilizing a site like tinyurl or bit.ly so it is more likely others can retweet and share what you've said if they find it valuable.

5. Edit your list of people that you follow frequently.  Sure, maybe you enjoyed Ashton Kutcher's tweets when you first joined and weren't interacting with people much, but now you've made a lot of new Twitter friends and what they say seems a whole lot more relevant to your life.  But, you've got so many tweets in your news feed, you rarely catch up on them anymore because it's overwhelming.  Quiet the "noise".  Don't follow accounts that frequently tweet things you could care less about.  It's ok.  I promise.  And it will help you stay caught up with those you find most relevant.

6. Use Twitter as an instant information source, and provide instant info to others.  If someone posts "Looking for a great place to eat lunch downtown for less than $10" and you just had a great meal at the Mediterranean Grill for $9.50- speak up!  Give the name and location.  If you need fast info, Twitter is a GREAT resource!

7. Twitter makes a great sounding board but sound off thoughtfully. It's easy to vent about your crazy long wait at the DMV and others can relate and maybe even @reply with a tip of how to get help faster or a joke that at least brightens your mood.  Keep in mind your tweets are the impression you give others.  If ALL of your tweets are complaints, emotional outbursts, rants, self promotion, or fluff it may make others less comfortable/likely to interact with you. 

By following the self imposed rules I created for myself and listed above, I've really gotten SO much out of the Twitter experience.  It has become so valuable to me.  As a social person who frequently works alone in an office, it's wonderful knowing a whole community is just a keystroke away.

As I make new friends on Twitter they get to know the me I am today, the person I've grown to be.  I don't feel obligated to fit into the mold of past expectations or a previous version of myself.  I've found that others feel the same way as I frequently hear that people feel more comfortable being themselves, being open and being authentic on Twitter than they do on Facebook, since Facebook is usually comprised of a network of people you've known throughout your life.

The Twitter community has provided so much- information, solutions to problems, opinions, opportunities, friendship, a laugh, affirmation, new ideas, entertainment... the list goes on.  Twitter has become such a positive thing in my life- I hope if you've been curious about the benefits of Twitter and how to use it more effectively that this post has been helpful!

Happy Friday Friends! :-)

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting and helpful info, Natali! I've been one of those that does not get Twitter at all, and this helps me to kind of understand why people use it! I just might have to be brave and try it out! Thanks!

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  2. Amazing! Passing this on to a non-IRL friend who signed up yesterday because I told her to (or because she wanted to...whatevs).

    :)

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  3. Nice job. I think that blog will really speak to those who haven't dipped their toe in the twitter pool yet and help them dive in.

    I know everyone I've met on twitter has exceeded my expectations. I'll keep in mind not too sound off as much (too late for today though :)

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