I hear it all the time, "Twitter is a waste of time." "I just don't get the big deal about Twitter." "I'm too busy." "I only focus on mortgages." (A little secret snark there for a friend.) Let's back up just a few steps so we all have the same perspective.
Twitter. If you have not heard of it welcome to earth. Twitter is, simply put, a very fast past, one sentence electronic bulletin board. Oddly enough about 25 years ago that was the only way I communicated over the Internet. Actually it was called FIDONET back then and I accessed it with a computer with less power than your digital kitchen timer. So we have come full circle - only now it is much faster, there are millions of users and it is graphical instead of a black screen with little green letters!
Twitter was developed way back in 2006 - the equivalent of a digital millennium - by Jack Dorsey. Jack was joined by Evan Williams (not in a bottle) and Biz Stone who at first named the system twttr (flickr inspired the idea) and later spelled it out to Twitter. It has no specific meaning except that twitter was near twitch in the dictionary. Long story but if you listen to Social Media Edge Radio every Tuesday at noon you may already know it!
Twitter is limited to 140 characters including space and punctuation. Why? Think text messages (SMS - Short Message Service) on your cell phone. That is how Twitter was designed to work so that you could use either your computer or your cell phone. The very early stages of Twitter were, indeed, no frills. Today, however, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of third party developers using the Twitter API (Application Programming Interface) make it possible to do many things with Twitter - including be successful.
But I promised you a way to hate Twitter.
Many Active Rainers are guilty of the first way to hate Twitter. In fact AR makes it pretty simple by allowing you to "post your blog to Twitter". In fact I use that service and people who follow me on Twitter will be notified when I publish this blog article. That's probably the best way to hate Twitter.
What I am about to do is not to embarrass any particular person. In fact I'm just going to do a search on Google for the phrase "Just posted on Active Rain" and pick the 3rd and 7th links. Quickly visit http://twitter.com/henrydaniels and http://twitter.com/ericgreid (like I said, no offense to these guys). The reason I chose these is because they are perfect examples of one way to hate Twitter. They really are nothing more than mindless Twitter spam and a horrible use of API bandwidth which could even make Active Rain look bad.
So what is wrong with the way these accounts are being used? Social media. One have of its name is social. When you go to a social event do you walk up to everyone you see and say, "Hey look what I just posted to Active Rain"? You would likely not be asked to another social event by those people even in the event you were allowed to stay for the current one. People block accounts that are just streams of API posts with no engagement from the account holder. You get 100 blocks and Twitter says "bye-bye".
Our friend, Jeff Turner (@respres), knows and speak about engagement as an essential activity for social success. He is correct of course. Without social it's just media and who cares? People want to interact, engage, share, discover, and influence. It's why Twitter works and is different than Facebook, MySpace, Active Rain, and other social media networks because with Twitter if you don't have followers you are talking to yourself! I love it when I come across a Twitterer who is following 1 person and has 0 followers but 350 tweets! Nobody has seen those!
Some of the people who use Twitter as a one way street - them publishing and you reading because they never actually engage with Twitter - will defend it by saying, "But I get Google juice!" Yes and no. Firstly I can tell you Google is all over Twitter links and counting them differently than say Wikipedia links or Active Rain links. Secondly Twitter uses the no-follow attribute in any link you post as appears thus:
<a href="http://twitpic.com/g74i4" class="tweet-url web" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">
While Google does FOLLOW that link it does not index that link so, no, it does not in that manner count for even one little drip of Google juice where inbound links are concerned. True it may get you a handful of visitors, mostly the 14 bots that hound tweets but if you do not have that social equity which comes only from meaningful engagement or stardom you really are just wasting time and space.
Speaking of stardom. Ashton Kutcher (@aplesk) is a star. You, the author of a book that sold 15,000 copies and host of a podcast are not. Michelle Malkin = star. Ken Cook = twit. Steve Forbes = star. Jason Crouch = twit. Why do you think Jason, Mike Mueller and I work so hard to stay on top - to engage others? If you do not do the same, if you think just having an @ before your name gives you social equity you will hate Twitter.
Now consider the story of @Bronto http://twitter.com/bronto and the success they have had on Twitter with attracting new clients and new talents. "DJ Waldow of Bronto met a prospect through Twitter who knew of the company and valued the company's industry insight. When it came time for the prospect to find a new vendor, he went to Waldow and turned into a client. Bronto built a relationship with the prospect through Twitter, which helped the company stay in the prospect's mind." - Web Worker Daily
Obviously this is a very narrow look at a very wide subject yet I assure you Twitter is good stuff and has had a very good impact on my life and my businesses.
Follow my personal tweets @thekencook or listen to Social Media Edge (formerly Twitter Tuesday) Radio every Tuesday at Noon Eastern or listen to the archives anytime.