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5 Questions about Twitter

October 25, 2010

1. Why Twitter?

My first encounter with Twitter was when I went for a job interview last year and the MD asked me, “Apart from Facebook, what other social media platforms do you use or think are useful?” At the time, having spent 18 months abroad, Twitter was something new to me and only when I was looking for jobs, and stalking researching about my potential interviewers, that I came across this infamous blue bird. I had no idea about its relevance so I replied, “LinkedIn as it allows you to build relationships with others within your professional network.”

The MD continued, “How about Twitter?” I was quite frank at this point and replied that it was not something I was familiar with and he replied, “Go back and set yourself up with a Twitter account. It is the one most single powerful tool for the PR industry today” in which I think I replied meekly, “Thanks… I’ll take a look at it…”

 

2. Why should I join Twitter?

Fast forward a year onwards, now I’m the one trying to persuade friends, colleagues and Twitter-sceptics to join Twitter and one of the most frequent questions I hear is “Why should I join?

For those not working in the industry, many view Twitter as just another platform for updating Facebook-like statuses and they have enough of those coming up on news feeds. They can do without the millions of narcissistic tweeters they don’t know updating statuses about what they had for lunch.

Indeed Twitter’s tagline, which used to be “What are you doing?” would warrant such a response but then they realised this wasn’t the right question anymore. Between tweets about personal musings, people were also tweeting about incidents, events, sharing links and breaking news.

On Twitter’s blog they said:

“The fundamentally open model of Twitter created a new kind of information network and it has long outgrown the concept of personal status updates. Twitter helps you share and discover what’s happening now among all the things, people, and events you care about. “What are you doing?” isn’t the right question anymore—starting today, we’ve shortened it by two [words]. Twitter now asks, “What’s happening?”

 

3. Who do I follow?

Many friends who has opened a Twitter account seem to lose interest after a couple of days/weeks, often saying- “nothing ever happens” or “I don’t know who to follow.” Well if you’re following the right people, then you might use it more often!

I like this analogy I came across on Speak Media where social media is likened to a school canteen. Everyone sits according to their own cliques: the glee kids, the goths, the athletics team and the cool kids… Similarly, everyone online gathers together around shared interests and this makes a good starting point for who to follow.

If there are certain blogs you read, or celebrities and musicians that you like, then Google them to see whether they have a Twitter account and follow them. Chances are their tweets and links will interest you and you can start to expand your list by following who they follow.

 

4. What is Twitter going to do for me?

In this day and age of communication, it’s easy to suffer from information overload. Do we really need another social media fad to clutter up our lives even more? Clay Shirky once said, “It is not about information overload, it’s filter failure.

It is important to be selective in the way we choose to consume media and, in terms of Twitter, to be selective in terms of who you follow. If someone you’re following is not interesting or just spamming your feed, then I would advise you to ‘unfollow’ just as you would ‘hide’ a friend’s Facebook updates.

The beauty of limiting tweets to 140 characters means that people are often succinct in what they have to say, meaning you can skim through your feed quickly and click on the links that capture your attention and altogether enriching your media consumption.

 

5. What’s so good about Twitter?

Twitter is useful for the immediacy of updates. Because all tweets are happening in real time, Twitter is an incredibly useful source of information. During the tube strikes for example, I wasn’t sure whether the Northern Line was running or not so I set up a search column on Tweetdeck to find mentions of ‘Northern Line’ and found real-time updates of people tweeting about their journey to work. Several tweeted that they had an uninterrupted journey so I decided to brave the tube and lo and behold, I had a seamless and smooth journey thanks to Twitter!

Twitter is also extremely useful when a crisis hits, take Haiti or Hurricane Katrina for example – Twitter allows us the collective capability to use it as a disaster-relief tool that traditional media might not be able to achieve as effectively.

 

 

It gives me great satisfaction that I have managed to inspire some of my friends to sign up, or to rediscover neglected Twitter accounts. Hopefully this post has answered some questions you might have about Twitter and possibly even think about signing up today.

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