I’ve been hearing people talking about Twitter, but I’ve never actually figured out what it is. What’s it all about?
I actually had to face this question last night at a friend’s house. My audience consisted of people who had never used Twitter before and considered blogging a passing curiosity they would never indulge in themselves. They had heard of Twitter through a local column in the newspaper (written by Sherrilynne from StrivePR). So, how could I break it down in terms they could understand?
Well, after finding out that most of them were familiar with Instant Messaging, I started comparing it to having an IM session with ALL your friends at the same time. The thing about Twitter is that it’s more than a chat room however. It’s more about expressing yourself in real time to the world, just as things are happening. And one big distinction is that you can ignore it or just turn it off, if you’re not interested any more.
The discussion carried on and one good question that came back was “Why would I want to blog or tweet about my personal life?” The answer is very much that “You don’t have to”. In fact, most of your readers, even if they are friends and family, aren’t interested in what colour your socks are or how crooked your fingernail is growing. However, sometimes you DO have something interesting to contribute, your thoughts, your feelings, your questions, you fears and THESE are the sort of thing that starts off a conversation.
The great thing about Twitter though, is not what you are saying, but what the people you are following are saying. You can follow anyone you want, friends and family, people you admire, people you hate, complete strangers. You start to get real value however, when you follow people who share their ideas and complement you in some way. You can find out tips on how to solve problems, ideas on a franchise opportunity, or get feedback on some crazy idea you may have. One other type of Twitter account you can follow is a bot that feeds you news and weather. I get BBC News updates for example, as soon as they are posted to the website.
Before I close off though, I’d like to put up a video from Common Craft that does an excellent job of explaining what Twitter is. It’s a great presentation style and I would recommend that everyone watches it.