What Is Twitter and Why Should I Care?

Understanding Twitter
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Understanding TwitterFans of the Howard Stern Show have been pelted by a prevailing theme over the past few shows. No, I don’t mean the sounds of Tom Hanks’s son rapping, which are delightful and horrifying all at once. I mean the discussion surrounding Twitter.

For months and months, Howard has been bemoaning people’s use of Twitter, calling it a huge waste of time and just plain nonsense, but now he’s hooked. And he’s not the only one.

It seems that every single person who doesn’t have a massive self-promotion gene (or a publicist to carry one around for them) has these thoughts about Twitter:

  • I don’t understand how it works.
  • I don’t understand how 140 characters of anything could be worthwhile to report or read.
  • I don’t want to have anything in common with Paris Hilton. (In this case, the point above is, in fact, valid.)
  • I would never check it.
  • I wouldn’t know who to “follow.”
  • There’s something about that bird that irritates the hell out of me. Why can’t they use a nice, sensible “F” like Facebook?

Those same people feel a mild irritation that there is one more thing to clutter up our nearly-addled brains with inanity. If they’ve taken the plunge and created a Facebook page, then that should be enough. Who isn’t on Facebook? I know this because I was one of them.

I don’t see Twitter as much of a marketing tool, although I’m sure I’m missing the point on some level by not using it for that purpose. Instead, I primarily use Twitter as an information-gathering resource. And once I started using it in that capacity (and also to follow Steve Martin’s hilarious diatribe), I was hooked.

AOL bought the Huffington Post. To celebrate everybody gets a disk good for a free month of dial-up.

Ahem, sorry. It is distracting when you start searching around in there. Not to mention the fact that many celebrities do tweet themselves, for the most part. On Facebook, it’s rarely the case that celebrities post on their own fan pages.

But since I’m not 20 years old, I don’t have enough time in the day to bounce around between Facebook and Twitter – and manage to get work done. I could do it, but I’d have a lot of pretty irritated clients.

Think about the main complaint grown adults have about Facebook: Now I’m connected to all these people I don’t have any interest in and haven’t since I was in high school.

I have an obsession with learning, but there’s not enough obsessed blood running through my veins to make me care about half the crap I see on Facebook.

With Twitter, only a handful of the people I’m connected to are actually friends or family. All the others that I follow or that follow me are related to me through business. And I don’t mean clients. I mean they’re people in my industry.

They’re people I’d want to hear from because they’re reporting news and opinion about my industry. And I don’t even have to go looking for it!

TweetdeckHow do I do that without having to perpetually scan through my Twitter feed? I use a free application that runs on my computer called TweetDeck. I start it up at the beginning of the day and then immediately minimize it. Then, as people post things to Facebook and Twitter or direct-message me, a quiet little box appears in the upper right-hand corner of my screen. I can click the link if it’s something I want to read about, or I can ignore it. It stays up there for about 5 seconds.

Here’s the fun part: Because I’m not away from my work and on social media websites, I can hit the link, which opens in a new tab in my browser, and then just leave it open until I have a break between tasks to read it.

I’ve minimized my distractions while not losing touch with the cute thing my friend’s dog did or the latest in mobile app development – and I can still ignore what I don’t really care to read. Brilliant!

And the beauty part is that I’m keeping on top of the latest in my industry, which gives me an edge over plenty of my competitors. And if I’m not at my desk when something earth-shattering happens in the web design field, someone will undoubtedly be re-tweeting (re-posting) it when I am there.

In fact, many people open Twitter accounts just so they can follow others’ tweets, but don’t tweet themselves. There are many days when I don’t tweet at all, but I’m always on the lookout for handy tips or the latest press.

Now that Howard Stern sees the value in Twitter, he prophesizes that Facebook will soon become irrelevant, if it hasn’t already. Probably not that soon, especially with all those people still making the claims listed above. But with the scramble-to-innovate attitude that Zuckerberg has, I would say it’s probably a fear of his as well.

About Sarah

Obsessed with order and driven to help you succeed in whatever you do to make the world a better place, I work tirelessly to keep you motivated, inspired, and informed about the worlds of branding and marketing. Read more about Enve or check us out on Twitter.