- Noun: An update that is posted to a Twitter feed (think Facebook wall). Like it or not, they can only be 140 characters.
- Verb: The act of tweeting on Twitter.
My original plan was to hit these Twitter lessons hard. I wanted nothing more than to show off my Twitter prowess in the form of posts on hashtags, lists, and Twitter tools. However, after posting last week’s introduction to “Teach Me How to Twitter,” I was inundated with messages that all asked the same question: What makes Twitter so great? Not only was this question asked by Call Me Bookish blog followers who, like my Aunt Patty (love you, AP!), haven’t taken the Twitter plunge, but also by novice tweeters who simply want a reason to stay on the Twitter bandwagon.
You win, here are my top 5 reasons why Twitter is so awesome:
1. Connections. Whether you want to use Twitter for personal or business purposes, it is the best place to make connections. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., Twitter is one of the only social networking websites where the standard practice is to follow and be followed by perfect strangers (this expands your network immensely). It’s hard to believe, but some of these perfect strangers will become perfect friends —regular sources of support, advice, and entertainment without all of the messy real-person stuff getting in the way.
If you’re using Twitter as a page for your business, it’s a great way to get the word out, reach your target market, and most importantly, become better. You’ll be able to feel out your audience, educate and learn from like-minded businesses, and find out what people truly think about your products/services.
2. News and Social Justice. Before I had the chance to feel it (which I never did), I read several tweets about the earthquake that rocked the East Coast this past August. When I’m working, I usually have CNN on in the background, and believe me when I tell you that Twitter, unlike news stations, is instantaneous. Forget Google, search it on Twitter! Consequently, it’s not surprising that Twitter has (Arab Spring uprisings) and will continue to play a pivotal role in social justice and change. While it’s liberating to tweet your bank’s Twitter account about how much you hate their new debit card fees, it’s absolutely exhilarating when a collective Twitter bitch-fest forces said bank to terminate that fee.
3. Access. Twitter allows you access to people, contests, and opportunities that you never would have had access to before. Twitter is definitely a global site, so you can have a conversation with a Tweep in Norway, a Tweep in Egypt, and a Tweep in Argentina, at the exact same time, sans text/telephone rates and subscription fees. Plus, who doesn’t want to tell @MintzPlasse that his performance as McLovin (Superbad) changed your life? Who knows, he may even RT (Retweet) your 140 characters of praise, an act that will grant you exposure and a few new followers, to his massive Twitter following! See, you didn’t even need a stamp.
4. Constant entertainment. It’s always on and poppin’ on Twitter. People from all over the world are constantly tweeting and are always ready to socialize. It’s like reality TV but real, providing you with an opportunity to ask someone (or everyone) anything, at any time. I ask my Tweeps everything — if certain movies are good, if crock pots are worth buying, and if my sheets really are ruined just because I’ve spilt nail polish on them. Don’t feel like socializing? Just read. In addition to the tweets themselves, people also tweet links to blog posts, articles, and even pictures. One of the biggest misconceptions about Twitter is that it’s a place where people tell the rest of the world what they had for breakfast and if that mysterious rash cleared up. While those tweets do happen, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most are thought-provoking.
5. Twitter has staying power. Twitter is going to be here for quite some time. How do I know this? I’m going to play the Millennial Generation card, and tell you that I just know. As someone who was on their first social networking site by the age of 14, I can safely say that I have some experience in this arena. Social networking sites come and go. Usually this is the trend:
Young, hipster-y teens join Website X ➛ their more boring, mid-to-late twenty-something brothers and sisters join Website X ➛ the twenty-somethings’ coworkers, typically in the 30-40 age range, see their pages and decide that they want one of Website X’s newfangled pages too ➛ then, parents start to join Website X ➛ horrified, the teens leave Website X and join a new site, Website Y, faster than you can say Justin Bieber ➛ Grandparents start to join Website X ➛ the mid-to-late twenty-somethings leave Website X and, like their younger, cuter counterparts, join Website Y ➛ Website X is toast ➛ Website Y is where the cycle begins again.
However, this DOES NOT apply to Twitter. Not having to use your real name, means that your real-life loved ones won’t be able to search for you; in fact, using a fake name and avatar of some kind will allow you to remain completely anonymous. Also, Twitter combines the best features of all other social networking sites, and let’s be honest, figuring out how to express the inner workings of your mind in only 140 characters is both fun and challenging. These tiny tweets allow newscasters to read several tweets on air (you know, the average Joe’s viewpoint), without fear of losing the audience’s attention.
Twitter allows everyone to be involved in the conversation, so like birds atwitter, the Twitter chatter is only going to get louder.