Should I bother with this post? Will non-Twitter users even bother to read this? In the last few days, I’ve seen several posts by people who don’t USE Twitter and/or don’t see the point of Twitter.
Add to that another study (this one with a whopping 350 users in the sample size) that says 80% of Tweets are “me now” or vanity tweets. So what? I’d wager close to 100% of Facebook is vanity “news”, look at my kids, look at my score on Bejeweled, look at my drunken college pics. No one is putting down Facebook for being all about “me”. Isn’t that sort of the point of Twitter? The prompt on twitter.com says “What are you doing?”. Wouldn’t my answer to that by definition be about me? And what’s wrong with that? Is that any different than most blogs?
And of course, the study that says “40% of all tweets are drivel”, or whatever.
I’ve never studied my email inbox, but I’m willing to bet 40% of that is drivel, too. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a use, especially in the corporate world.
Yes, most likely the majority of what I tweet is utter crap. And some of what I read is utter crap. HOWEVER, that utter crap has purpose.
Twitter as a resource. I’ve occasionally had a problem that I could not solve and my “tweeps” have helped me out. On a daily basis I see tweets like “Has anyone ever … [fill in the technical question]” and people respond and help out. Are there other means for this? Sure, I guess. There are forums that are infrequently checked and not always answered. Twitter is immediate. The response is usually quick, even if it’s “Sorry, I don’t know.” at least you get a response quickly. Some say Facebook or LinkedIn can be technical resources, but I don’t find that to be the case. Facebook is too personal. It’s mostly friends and some colleagues, but largely a way for us all to show eachother photos of our kids or our vacations. Not typically (for me anyway) where I’m going to find technical answers. Also, Facebook doesn’t seem as timely as Twitter. I don’t mean that Facebook is slow, but that people don’t check it as often, or post as often, or respond as quickly. LinkedIn is much more professional, but REALLY lacks the speed and comraderie that I find on Twitter. Really, how often do you check LinkedIn? And how often do you check their forums or answer questions?
Twitter as community. I’ve actually made friends on Twitter. Can Facebook or LinkedIn say that? Not for me. When someone shares small bits of themselves (up to 140 characters!) on a frequent basis, you can get to know them. If you jump in and respond to them, and share your own bits, you can actually do this thing called making friends. Facebook is useful for maintaining friendships, but not for making them. LinkedIn is way too impersonal and doesn’t even maintain relationships (for me), so much as show me who I know and who my colleagues know.
Twitter as networker. This point sort of combines the first two…add community and resource and I guess you get network, right? I’ve seen lots of Tweetups get organized when someone Tweets “I’ll be in so and so in blah blah”. People respond and say they’d like to meet up. Again, I just don’t see this happening on other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Several Lotus folks were at LoLA in Boston recently. I never would have known if it weren’t for Twitter. As it was, I heard about it through Twitter, was able to meet up with some people and had a great time with some great people. Some people I had already known and some I got to meet for the first time.
So what’s the difference? Why have I had such a great experience on Twitter when so many people get a username and then just don’t get it? I got involved. Another post to follow on how *I* use Twitter and some thoughts on how to get a better experience out of it.