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Twitter… What the heck is it anyway!!??

September 2, 2009

Everywhere I turn lately, people are talking about Twitter. In flyers, in newspapers, on TV – there are a bazillion articles and videos, trying to explain what Twitter is all about. Some get it and some don’t, but you can’t turn around lately without reading an article or survey on Twitter.

Most don’t get Twitter and are giving the wrong impression of this communication gem.

Oh, and by the way, yes…. I ‘tweet’.

Twitter has grown in the way it’s used almost as dramatically as the number of users. In the beginning, it was somewhere you could tell people “what you are doing”. Things like “sitting at Starbucks having a latte”. Twitter is so much more than that now…

Twitter is not your typical social network. Twitter is not structured as a community, but it can feel like one. Twitter is not anything like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace – not even close.

So what the heck is Twitter?

Well, Twitter is:

  • a place where you can ‘follow’ interesting people;
  • where you can ‘follow’ business leaders, health practitioners, local business owners, celebrities, marketing gurus, trendsetters, people who have brilliant ideas, people supporting a cause, people with a passion, famous people, useless people, your friends and family, funny people. Or just people with nothing better to do;
  • a place where you can ‘follow’ companies you like, companies you don’t like, companies you want to learn more about or find out how it’s made. You can give them feedback on their product or service, find out about their promotions, deals or sales, ask them for help or complain about their product or service.
  • somewhere you can follow groups of people with similar interests like art, politics, health, disabilities, illnesses, wealth, sports, entertainment, music, business, etc…

  • a way to find out what people are ‘tweeting’ about, trending topics, breaking news, Real Estate, current affairs, movies, TV shows, cities and towns, what they think about the new Blackberry or iPhone, whether you should upgrade your computer or just buy a new one from Dell;
  • a place where you can get instant feedback in real time from real people like you and me. Literally on anything from homework, troubleshooting Skype or just a great place to eat dinner. You can ask for help – and guess what people will help! Ask them what they think and value their time and efforts and you will be amazed at what you get back.

FYI:  Those last two are probably the most important reason why businesses and companies should use Twitter.

Twitter is completely different from Facebook. It is not a place where you setup your social profile, and then become friends with people you know, people you work with or knew in high school. You don’t receive plants or gifts from your friends and family!

Twitter is in essence a social news channel – a look into the social consciousness. A place online where you can get news from anyone, anywhere right now, unedited, straight from the horse’s mouth.

What’s more, you get to choose who you want to listen to. Who will empower you? You can choose not to ‘follow’ someone who only tells you when they’re buying groceries or going to work or watching House on TV.

On Twitter, only 10% of users ‘tweet’ and 90% listen. It’s not somewhere where everyone is talking all at once, it’s where you can come to listen to those that educate, entertain or inspire you. Connect with those people that interest you – people that matter to you.

You can choose to listen and ‘follow’ or you can interact, engage or lead. People may be inspired by your story or message and want to follow you.

Unlike what you may think about Twitter – it’s not a popularity contest. Your follower count doesn’t matter – or shouldn’t matter and you can make a difference! What matters are the people you connect with, the information you gain or give and what you want the world to know about you.

It’s a place where you can gain support if you’re struggling with something in life – whatever it is. It could be something as simple as finding a new recipe for dinner or something as involving as learning more about how you can help your child’s battle with Autism.

You can support those you ‘follow’ in their endeavors by interacting or responding to their ‘tweets’. You can spread their message to your followers and help them grow their cause. You can help to motivate them by telling them how they have inspired you or you can find motivation in the words of others.

Twitter is a place where you can grow your business. Not by hammering people with your product or service. But by listening, learning and interacting with them – creating real, lasting relationships. If someone in your network asks for help or advice give it – don’t worry if it’s not exactly what they’re looking for – just be real. Be yourself.

If you do these things, then other people will respond to you. With Twitter you very much get back what you put into it. Conversation is a two-way street.

So, “What are you doing?”…

Follow me on Twitter and tell me what interests you.

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