Twitter’s dirty little secret
You hear a lot about Twitter these days but, based on my own experiences, the reality is that there aren’t that many people actually active on Twitter – at least not in the business arena. If you are one of the people that are in that select minority, please read on and let me know if your assessment agrees with mine.
If you aren’t using Twitter (yet), read on and find out what you are missing and why you might want to take a look at this collaboration tool.
Personally I have only been using Twitter since May 2011. In that time, I have been up and down on it and it’s place in our lives. Currently I am somewhat neutral. I definitely feel it has it’s place but I’m not sure if it is more akin to a phone or a fax machine in terms of value.
So, what’s the secret behind Twitter? Why do so many find it useful? At its heart Twitter is a new age version of an old fashioned cork board.
You know … the kind where you would pin up notes that you wanted to leave for other members in your school, work, church, family, whatever to see and respond back on. Maybe you would put up something for sale and leave tear off tags. Maybe you would leave a message about your lost puppy. Maybe even request help with a project. Whatever.
And just like the cork boards, the older messages tend to get buried by the newer messages that are put on top of them. And then newer messages on top of those and then newer messages on top of those, etc. (It’s turtles all the way down.)
And, again, just like the cork boards, people come by and repost their stuff to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle or buried behind someone else’s stuff. Sometimes you might see a message of particular importance and bring it to the front (re-tweeting the tweet so to speak).
You will also find that some folks feel the need to plaster the board with a bunch of things all at once to carve out a piece of the landscape in some vain attempt to not be missed. (BTW – to the folks that do this, I’m not alone in saying this: cut it out, it’s f*cking annoying to see you spam twitter with six+ messages all in a row.)
That’s it. That’s all Twitter is. An electronic version of a cork board.
And because it’s electronic, it’s not limited to people passing by the board, the messages are available worldwide instantaneously. You define your own cork board by choosing whose messages you will see by “following” individuals. Once you follow someone, their messages show up in your Twitter feed aka the message stream.
Once you are following a decent size group, or even small group if they are prolific, you will soon find your twitter feed overwhelmed with a constant barrage of new messages. One nice advantage of this new world version of the cork board is that you can manage the clutter by using lists to view messages only from certain individuals or you can set up saved searches to view messages that fall under specific topics of interest.
My biggest gripe with Twitter (apart from the service being overloaded a lot … A LOT) is that it’s very easy to burn hours watching the feed and reading articles brought to attention by the people you are following. I follow a lot of very interesting people and they follow a lot of very interesting people. So good articles and information gets regurgitated through re-tweeting or direct tweeting.
It reminds me a lot of the old days of the internet where you would start off looking up something on the Nile river and find three hours later you are reading about an old television advertisement that you saw as a kid. It can be entertaining, enlightening and educational.
It can also be a complete waste of time. The Twitterati (smart Twitter users – there are a lot of cutesie Twitter terms like this) use lists and search terms to pull the signal from the noise. If you go down the Twitter path, I would recommend that you build that habit early on.
If you are on Twitter, feel free to follow me at https://twitter.com/#!/AzambaInc
If you aren’t on Twitter and have questions, comment below and I will do my best to address them.