How to Properly Give Twitter a Chance

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In the past year I have steadily seen my activity on Twitter quickly dismantle my need for Facebook. I find myself communicating with friends more on the micro-blogging service than I do on Facebook, although I find ways to use the social networking giant to my advantage in ways I may not be able too with Twitter.

As an avid blogger I find that Twitter is a terrific tool for not only spreading the word about my own stuff but also great for discovering new content. For example, I have found myself hooked to On the DL, a podcast that discusses Philadelphia sports but also takes a look at the way sports in general is covered in the media. Maybe it is not for everyone but I do not know if I would have come across it, or bothered to give it a listen, if not for Twitter.

So what exactly is Twitter?

As you may know, Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows people to share updates in 140 characters or less. The social network has ballooned in popularity over the last few months with celebrities trying to get a piece of the Twitter action and news companies or entertainment companies offering updates through their own tweets to keep people up to date.

To me Twitter can get a bad wrap because of the apparent overkill of Twitter ads. There appear to be four kind of Twitter users;
  1. The attention seeking celebrity
  2. The news source attempting to utilize new technologies
  3. The fervent social networking enthusiast
  4. The casual user who reads updates more than anything else
I put myself in the third category as I do a lot of activity online and like to not only spread my own messages and updates but also to seek out other new content. If you follow the right people that are geared towards your interests you will get a lot more out of Twitter. This is why I follow a large number of Philadelphia sports, Penn State football, and technology news related Twitter accounts.

If you just start up and find yourself following the most popular Twitter folks just for the reason that they are the most popular you may find yourself overwhelmed and lose interest rapidly. That, to me is why many people sign up for Twitter, use it for a day or two, and never check it again.

One way to find quality people to follow is by using Twitter search. Allow this video to explain it to you in plain English...

Searching on Twitter is terrific. Some desktop applications will allow you to save your searches. For example, on Tweetdeck you can set up a column to keep track of search results.

Recently Twitter made the news for the way the stories about the Iran election dilemma played out. People were discussing the Iran elections well before the traditional media sources could break the story. If you want to find out what people are saying about a certain topic just type into your search box what you want to read about. Type in "Iran election" or "Joe Paterno" or your home town. Want to know what people think about a movie? Do a Twitter search for your desired movie and you will quickly find out if people like it or not.

The point I am attempted to illustrate for you is that Twitter can be a lot deeper than what naysayers of Twitter will say. There is much more content available that what Charlie had for lunch or what load of laundry Sally is on or how many nickels are in Lucy's can or what Beethoven album Schroeder is listening too (whoah, Peanuts references overload).

If you are turned off by Twitter because you don't care about Miley Cyrus's love drama or Ashton Kutcher's summer tan, then just think about what you would like to get out of your Twitter experience. You will probably get a lot more out of it than you expected if you give Twitter a proper chance.

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