Yesterday, I was catching up with a good friend and she said to me “I’ve been trying out Twitter – but I still don’t get it” and I went into my usual quick overview of how you can use Twitter.
But it got me thinking – why do I love it so much when other people struggle to see any value in it? And I thought back to when I first signed up July 2008 – I played around for a bit and then left it for at least 12 months, for the very same reason as my friend – I just didn’t get it.
When I returned to it I made more of an effort to find interesting people to follow – and there in lies the beginning of my love affair with Twitter – it’s all about the quality of the people you follow. If you’re just following people who tweet about what they had for lunch it is going to get very boring very quickly. But follow interesting people and you can make great connections, be introduced to all sorts of interesting things and have a giggle.
My reasons for loving Twitter:
The ability to scan items more quickly and easily than in a feed reader. I have had a long love affair with my RSS feed reader, first Bloglines and now Google Reader, but it is very time consuming to keep up with all the blogs I follow as you need to actually scroll through full posts for each blog. Now, I follow many of my favourite bloggers in Twitter and they tweet each new blog post, usually with the title of the post, maybe a comment and a link. I can quickly run my eye over the title to blogs and only click through when something grabs my attention. I can cover around 250 tweets in around 10mins (obviously then I spend more time reading through the articles I’ve clicked through to) but I find this a much quicker way to do it.
Connections to interesting people. I have found some really interesting, inspiring, funny people on Twitter and I am able to easily interact with them. I usually find them as a result of someone else I follow retweeting something they found interesting, and then I look into that person and start following them myself. I can get involved in conversations, I can retweet something I find valuable, I can direct message anyone that I want to make contact with. I love that I can easily make contact with people that otherwise I may not be able to.
Celebrity following and gossip. There is the gossipy side of Twitter that you can follow if you are interested in that. I have at different times followed different celebrities – some I’ve stopped following as they were boring or just spent the entire time namedropping! But there are others that I continue to follow because it is a great way to stay up to date with what they are doing. For example, I follow some of my favourite singers and bands on Twitter. Their tweets are great because you get early news of new releases, ticket sales, appearances, news, awards, etc. I don’t need to hunt out when they are going to be touring next, as soon as dates are announced they are tweeted. And I follow artists that tweet when and where their next exhibition is or announce limited edition print sales that I would probably otherwise miss.
Stories of people finding inspiration/jobs/the love of their life! I’ve mentioned before that I think stories have the ability to transform lives and Twitter is just another way for people to share their story. I’ve also talked about people who have found jobs or the love of their life via Twitter. I’m a hopeless romantic and I just love hearing these sorts of stories!
It’s easy to do on my phone which suits my life. Twitter is very suited to mobile access – that’s one of the reasons tweets are limited to 140 characters to fit within the text messaging limit of 160 characters, with the spares for usernames and commands. My lifestyle at the moment as a work-at-home-mum means I have to grab opportunities for connecting via social media where I can and using my smartphone (I loooove my HTC Desire) makes it so easy, e.g. I can be pushing a toddler in a swing while scanning tweets!
First place for breaking news. Lately, I seem to get most of my news via Twitter – whether I hear about it there first, or via traditional media, I always go straight to Twitter to get the most up to date, raw, on the ground coverage. Recent examples include the uprising in Egypt and Tunisia, natural disasters like Cyclone Yasi , the Christchurch earthquake and the Japan earthquake and tsunami. The power of social media cannot be underestimated. And I find it endlessly exciting that we are living through the birth of this new and wonderful communication tool.
Want help with signing up with Twitter? Then please read my article Getting Started on Twitter.
For more tips on finding people to follow on Twitter please read my article How to Find Inspiration on the Internet.
And remember – It’s all about the quality of the people you follow!!