Why Twitter Isn’t a Pointless Waste of Time

I love Twitter, but a lot of people seem to think it’s completely pointless. So I find myself having these conversations where I try and convince people it’s not completely stupid, actually I’ve even convinced a couple of them to give it a go. I’ve laid out my arguments below.

Information Gathering

There are tons of interesting people on Twitter, and you can have the news you want delivered right to your stream. The best way to leverage this aspect of Twitter is to follow people who tweet links to stuff you should know about – saving you the time of going out looking for it. Services like TweetMeme and TechMeme will ensure you hear about what’s generating a buzz too. If you’re sharing stuff, it’s less intrusive (and quicker!) than Facebook. I think it’s the one way nature of relationships lowers the barrier to creating a relationship, and you can always unfollow someone later if what they’re saying no longer interests you.

Nice post about how “breaking news” can help your career here.

Ambient Awareness

I think it was O’Reilly’s The Twitter Book that said, if you don’t find someone’s food tweet interesting, it’s not for you. Honestly, there’s few – if any – people whose food tweets I care about! However I like that random aspects of my friends lives appear in my stream. They may not matter to many people, but living on another continent from most of the people I know I like this non-intrusive and low-effort way of keeping in touch with what they’re up to.

Yes, Facebook has this too. But for things like geographically disparate work teams Twitter seems more appropriate. If I started work tomorrow on such a team and the people I worked with were on Twitter, I’d start following them right away. But it would take me much longer to connect on Facebook, if I did at all. Also the less-invasive nature of Twitter means that I’m happy to post multiple times a day, however I typically change my Facebook status less than 4 times a week.

I love this article on ambient intimacy.

Conversations

According to Twanalyst, 55% of my tweets are conversation. I like the balance between real time and asynchronous conversation. Sometimes I have near real-time conversations with my friends, however if someone sends me an @ message after I’ve gone to bed – it’ll still be there the following morning and it’s OK to respond then. I can DM my friends if it’s important (or private) and if one of them DM’s me it goes to my cellphone and email. It’s like texting, but faster. And your other friends can see what you’re saying too and comment – good if you’re trying to organize a get together.

And, of course, you can get into conversations with people you don’t know that well in real life too, which is cool. One of my friends, I met a conference and we got talking on Twitter – now we hang out in real life. I met one of my neighbors in the lift but then we connected on Twitter so when he tweeted something about not knowing what to cook for one, I invited him over for dinner.

Customer Relationship Management

If you’re a business, this is massive. Suppose a customer and their friend leave your store/restaurant and they’re not happy with the service they received. If you’re passionate about the service your customers receive you’d want to know what they were saying, wouldn’t you? Twitter means sometimes you can. That’s huge! If you license out a franchise and a lot of people in an area are complaining, you can start evaluating who you’ve leased your brand name to. On the up side, if people have a great experience they’ll be tweeting about that too. If you’re an online business, your word of mouth is so important as to whether customers will trust you – how much advertising is equivalent to one positive tweet from a highly connected individual?

I wrote about this more in this post.

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