Why I’m on Twitter and How I Use It

"I Tweet, therefore I am"

When I welcome my latest Twitter followers I link them (you?) to this post. If you have arrived here from that Tweet, thank you for following me. If you simply found your way to my blog, and you’re on Twitter, please feel free to follow me at twitter.com/stevefurman. If you’re not on Twitter I’m NOT trying to convince you to use it. The purpose of this post is to explain why I’m on Twitter and what I use it for.

Initially I was skeptical and wondered why people bothered. But when it comes to Social Media I’m open to experimentation, so I gave it a try. It’s a small investment of time and no monetary risk at all. Twitter is a snap to set-up and then you start typing in 140 characters or less what you are doing/thinking. I quickly found the more I used it, the more I used it. There are downsides to giving into to the call of Twitter. It can be a time suck, distracting and you can sometimes end up frustrated and wondering why you even tried. That frustration comes if you are expecting to use it like facebook or e-mail. The key to enjoying being part of Twitter Nation is to set expectations and objectives.

Twitter is not a web site, although you get there from a URL. Tweets are what someone is either thinking, doing, saying, watching or listenting. They are radio waves that can only be received if you are on the same station as the broadcaster. People who follow you, or you are following, are human content channels. The size of your antenna (lots of followers/followings) is completely controlled by you. Should one channel not meet your objective for using Twitter, simply remove it. If you find a very helpful one, you can see who they follow and probably get more channels you will like.

Here’s my perspective. Twitter…

  1. Serves as a window into what’s going on in someone’s mind. These can run the emotional gambit from joy, disappointment and challenge, to triumph or simply stating a pet peeve. You are there with them as they experience it.
  2. Allows you to visualize what someone is doing at that moment, and one step further, what’s most meaningful to them about that moment. For instance, when someone Tweets that they are in a familiar restaurant enjoying a fine red wine and chatting with their spouse. It’s a rich picture that comes alive, especially when you know the couple and the restaurant.
  3. Can become the catalyst for later conversations. What were you guys talking about over dinner? What did you have? The wine? Etc.
  4. Provides the cadence of someone’s daily life. If they Tweet with regularity it’s a GPS of their thoughts as they navigate their day. They are turning left… right… now on a long straight track. You can sometimes watch them go off road.
  5. Is a rich digital network. In my unscientific study I have observed that Tweeple are generally early technology adopters, tend to be influencers, have fascinating jobs at leading companies and brands and generally love what they do. Of course some are just bored, which is to be expected with a media service with over 3 million channels. Surf past the noise.
  6. Keeps you in the know. Twitterers are constantly scanning the Internet for interesting and insightful ideas; including breaking news. Their Tweets are littered with tiny urls that lead you to a treasure trove of information and value hidden in the cloud. Great for impressing your friends and neighbors.
  7. Accelerates your knowledge. Tweets flow freely from user to user within the ever-growing social graph. Re-Tweeting, forwarding someone else’s Tweet, acts as an afterburner, further propelling that knowledge. A convergence of channels.
  8. Gets right to the point. After all you have to with only 140 characters. Short, sharp observations. Haven’t seen much Haiku though.
  9. Is entertaining. Some people broadcast on comedy central.

This is how I use Twitter

  1. Share my knowledge and experience I’ve collected over the years. I love solving problems and helping people solve problems. If I can give them a nugget or spark that advances their lives I’m thrilled. No great thought exists in a vacuum. If it’s a good idea then several people have it as well. If it’s a revolutionary idea then hundreds probably have it. It’s the universe’s way of improving the odds that great things reach the real world. Doing the work is much harder than having the idea, so share freely. when you share you get it back in large degrees.
  2. Learn from others much smarter than me. Of course not all smart people are on Twitter, and Twitter does not have only smart people. But it’s full of ideas and insights.
  3. Expand my network. All successful people are well connected. Who you know is critical. The smarter your connections the more power you have.

My perspective on Twitter evolves regularly, so I will probably come back and revise this post. Hope to see you out there on Twitter. What channel will you create?

Twitter is constantly changing. Read a more recent post on Twitter here.

UDATED September 30, 2009

Twitter is now a huge target of spammers who like to wreak havoc and others looking to make a quick buck. My criteria for following somebody who has followed me is as follows.

  1. They must have a physical location. An IP address or iPhone or “everywhere” isn’t a location.
  2. There must be a name.
  3. The avatar cannot be inappropriate.
  4. There must be a biography present that explains why that Twitter stream exists.
  5. There must be a link to a site with real content (not “Here’s a video of how I make millions everyday”).
  6. There should be a reasonable balance between followers and following.
  7. There must be a reasonable number of Tweets that have useful or interesting information or links in them.

Image Credit: Hongkiat.com

4 thoughts on “Why I’m on Twitter and How I Use It”

  1. GREAT write up, Steve! Love the break down of what twitter actually is – I sent it to a bunch of folks to read who have said, “Twitter??? I just don’t get it…”

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