When I mention Twitter to my friends who aren’t users, they tend to dismiss the social network citing the popular misconception that Twitter is full of random updates about what people ate for breakfast. Believe it or not, Twitter actually has value! Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who do use Twitter to publish pointless thoughts every minute of every day. That’s why the “unfollow” button exists.
These are a few things I learned during my first year on Twitter:
- Celebrities are real people. Twitter can give celebrities the opportunity to talk to their fans without the buffer known as a publicist. It’s nice to know that your favorite celebrities really are as cool off the screen as on the screen—I’m thinking of you @ActuallyNPH. Celebrities really are human. (Except Charlie Sheen. He told me he had #tigerblood on Twitter. Pretty sure that’s not normal.)
- Crafting messages in 140 characters or less is a great writing exercise. Determining what the core of your message is and using only 140 characters to craft that message is a great way to practice
the art of cutting out all of the fluff andbeing succinct.
- It’s a great way to network and get professional support. No matter what your profession is, there are experts in your field on Twitter who can offer opinions and insight on trends in your field. Even the Amish are on Twitter. Engaging with those influencers can not only give you a new perspective, it also enhances your credibility in the social space.
- Twitter is an excellent way to stay informed. I found out the shocking news that Kim Kardashian was ending her 72-day marriage on Twitter. I also found out about the passing of Steve Jobs, and the death of Osama Bin Laden this year on Twitter, literally minutes after they happened. The instantaneous nature of the platform allows for information to transmit quickly, and users don’t have to wait for a journalist to type up a 1,500-word story to find out about important events.
- It is a fantastic promotional tool, when used appropriately. No one likes people who are only on the social network to continuously market their products, without any real contribution to their field. However, when your product or service is a relevant topic for conversation, promoting it with a link on Twitter can generate a lot of traffic.
- Robots on Twitter are lame. WALL-E = cool. Optimus Prime = very cool. Spambots on Twitter = not so cool. For the first few months of my Twitter existence, over half of my followers and mentions were from automated programs attempting to get me to visit a site or buy a product. Many times these were spawned by mentioning popular key terms like “iPod”, “#Apple”, or “#Google”. If you are new to Twitter, expect spam, and don’t feel obliged to follow back everyone that follows you—especially if the account looks like its sole purpose is to promote spam.
- It’s the quality of followers that matter, not the quantity. I admit it took me a while to overcome the “more is better” mentality when it comes to followers. I have since come to realize that 10 followers that regularly engage in conversation and retweet is better than 100 followers that don’t participate at all. It helps to have higher numbers so you have more potential active followers, but a high follower count isn’t everything (for me).
What lessons have you learned from Twitter? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
All the best,