Social media? I could care less.
I don’t Digg very much and don’t really understand how it works. It seems some kind of rigged game where the behind-the-scenes may not be very objective.
I liked StumbleUpon because the fast pace of thumbing up or down was sort of fun – for all of an hour. Then I kept forgetting to use it. I’m sure that now I give the finger more while driving than I give a thumbs up on the web.
I can’t stand Facebook. Don’t even go there. Facebook is childish and silly, and I have no interest in wasting my time while playing stupid games like vampire bites or how many virtual beers I have or who thinks I’m hot.
I think I’m hot. That’s enough for me.
I have a LinkedIn account somewhere, and I think I signed up for Plato Pulse at one point. I don’t know how either of them work. I know how to click “accept” when people invite me to join with them.
Beyond that, I’m clueless.
So resisting the new fad of Twitter came easy. It sounded stupid. An application that asks me what am I doing? Working, that’s what. Cleaning house. Caring for my kids. Washing dishes and cooking supper. Why do I want to tell people what I’m doing?
But Jon Philipps nagged. Michael Martine gave gentle pushes. And from what they said, I’d be the perfect Twitter addict. No one mentioned it outright, but I had the feeling that if I looked up Twitter Target Market, I’d probably see my picture staring back at me.
And I’m very big on new and shiny. I love gadgets and tools and toys and stuff to play with. Harry often chuckles that it’s quite easy to lead me off course or defuse what I’m concocting simply by laying something bright in my path as a distraction.
Much as I hate social media, socializing comes easy to me. I also can’t resist temptation. The bright shiny was laid at my feet just within reach. I signed up, and the biggest question I’ve been asked since joining Twitter is how I feel about it.
I’ll tell you what I think. I’m now a Twitter addict.
It Isn’t What It Is
Twitter asks you to answer the question, “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less.
The unspoken rule of Twitter is that you should never really answer Twitter’s question, “What are you doing?” Post your thoughts, your opinions, your latest discovery on the ‘net, what your kids are doing, what irritates you, what brings you joy. Twitter is like sex. Have fun with it.
People don’t often write phrases like, “I’m cooking supper.” They’ll write phrases such as, “I’m cooking roast chicken and beans. Anyone want some?” And a conversation is born, as other Twitterers chime up with their answers.
Be interesting. Give insight into your life. Instigate conversation; go after it. Chime up and chime in. Twitter isn’t the place to simply watch tweets go by.
People post thoughts, opinions and rants. They ask questions. They support each other or inform people of interesting things to read. It’s a mini-party with something always going on. You’re never alone, and there’s always conversation to join in.
Even when there isn’t, you can make some.
What’s Old is New Again
Chatting and instant messaging over the Internet isn’t new to me. I was chatting when Compuserve chat rooms were the biggest thing going. I’m on Yahoo nearly 24/7 with Harry as is. I can walk into any chat forum and strike up a conversation in less than five minutes.
I adapted very easily and quickly to Twitter, because it’s not a new concept. Twitter is just a shaved down version of the old Compuserve chat rooms. It’s a place where people go to share thoughts and discuss in short spurts. That’s all.
You stay in touch with friends. You hang out with people who have like interests. You meet new acquaintances.
You could fire up an instant messenger like Yahoo or AOL and do much the same. All that’s changed with Twitter is the interface and the limitations – there’s nothing really spectacularly extraordinary about the concept.
It’s just instant messaging that caught on in the business world.
People have mentioned Twitter might be another waste of time. Some people complain that Twitter keeps them from working by distracting them. Maybe I have too short of an attention span, but so far, being active on Twitter really hasn’t cost me anything.
I mean, come on. How long does it take to write 140 characters?
I can see the urge to follow plenty of people and join in on multiple conversations, but I think when you’re serious about work and managing time, you know better than to continually add more to your already heaping plate. I also think that those who can’t seem to tear themselves away from Twitter had better start asking themselves why.
I spend no more than an hour a day on Twitter. I greet the morning folk like Dave Navarro and Brett Legree, and then I get on with getting on. I might stop in later and read up on DoshDosh’s latest rants, drop a few tweets and joke around, and then back to work I go. The nightlife is fun and active, so I’ll tweet a bit before bed.
And then I just turn it off. Simple.
Strangers in the Night
What’s this about following? Well, that’s the concept of Twitter. You follow people that you feel are interesting to read what they post, and you’re followed by people who want to read what you write.
Don’t know anyone? Feel like you’re alone at the party? Take a look at who other people are following. Follow those people, too. Build a quick list of Twitterers you’d like to get to know, and then start typing.
In fact, it may make you wonder. Complete strangers that you don’t recognize may start following you. You wonder, “Who is this person? What do they want? Why are they following me?” But after a few days, you realize they just find you interesting. It’s an acceptable form of stalking – perfectly legal.
It’s considered good form to reciprocate when someone starts following you by following them back, but it isn’t obligatory, and it isn’t considered rude not to follow someone following you.
When I reached 35 followers, I realized that I had just about enough on my plate. Now that I have over 200 followers, reciprocating by following them means I’d have to quit my day job just to keep up.
I do acknowledge when someone speaks to me directly. I may not follow their steady stream of daily conversation, but when they address me personally, I answer. It’s just polite – and often fun.
The business advantage of Twitter, for me, is negligible. We’ve seen a jump in the number of our subscribers since we’ve signed on to Twitter, yes, but too many factors happening at the same time come into play for us to determine the direct effects of Twitter.
We haven’t landed any new business specifically from Twitter, either. I can’t think of anyone who has said, “I hired you because I saw you on Twitter.” Yet.
We do use Twitter to promote our business and keep ourselves at the forefront of people’s minds. We can be there if people have questions and need answers, demonstrating that we’re a resource. We often chime in with witty ways to say, “Hire us” without pushing our services.
Twitter also helps us increase our business brand and reputation. Our posts show that we’re good people to work with and that we know what we’re doing. We create a sense of trust; if people feel they know us personally, they’ll be more prompted to hire us over an unknown competitor.
For networking, Twitter rocks. Where else can you jot a quick comment to DoshDosh, Brian Clark or DebNg? Where else can you joke with the A-listers and get to know them better? Where else can you quickly set up discreet plans behind the scenes? Where else can you increase your network contacts in less than a few minutes?
Twitter also lets you increase the chances of these people getting to know you a little more. Popular people to follow may not know you from the next guy. After exchanging a few tweets, you become acquaintances and are more easily recognized the next time you communicate.
Don’t know what to type? Type the first thing that comes to your head, no matter how dumb it sounds. Or, pick a person that just said something and respond to their comment. They’ll answer back. If they don’t? Pick another. Soon enough, you’ll be noticed and followed in return.
Inject useful links into the conversation and become known as a good resource. Promote your own blog posts by dropping an intriguing phrase and a link to encourage traffic. Instigate interest by making intelligent remarks that get people thinking. Get opinions on what other people think.
You can goof off and show your lighter side, too. Twitter is about people, and people can be dorks at times. It’s all fun and it’s all good, within reason.
Think before you tweet, though. It’s far too easy to write something fast and hit enter only to realize that you’ve just stuck your foot in your mouth. Comments can easily be misconstrued or cause offense.
I’ve typed too quickly a few times myself; you feel pretty damned stupid saying something dumb in public, let me tell you.
Also, beware. You can create a reputation for yourself on Twitter, and it’s not always a good one. Constant link droppers tend to turn off many users. Whiners are quickly pegged as boring. Stupid comments or questionable ones are met with a snort or skepticism.
And filling up a Twitter screen with non-stop back-and-forth with someone else that never ends isn’t smart. You end up creating the sense that you’re having a private conversation between two people – so take it private.
If it’s too one-on-one or lasts too long, then it doesn’t belong on Twitter.
No More Email!
You can use Twitter for fast contact. Sometimes, it’s easier to send a quick private tweet to someone rather than write out an email. They receive notification and can answer you back just as quickly. Handy? Very much, especially for busy people.
No More Web Browser!
One of the hugest turnoffs of Twitter was that I had to keep a browser tab open and refresh it every few minutes to stay updated. By the time an hour was up, I’d had it.
Enter Twhirl. (Thank you, Remarkablogger/DoshDosh!) This little application is exactly what I need. It’s discreet, it’s compact, it goes and hides, it updates automatically and it’s unobtrusive. It also comes from Adobe, so it’s a trusted resource. Perfect. Get it.
Breaking the Isolation
One of the biggest reasons I love Twitter is because I have the chance to let down my guard a little and socialize. I like Twitter for the interaction and the exchanges happening around me. I like to have discussions. I like to know what other people are thinking.Alright, I’m curious. Sue me.
I prefer the people that engage me in conversation and discuss personal sides of their lives beyond their blog. I like hearing people’s thoughts and what they’re up to or what they’re struggling with. I like the jokes and the fun, and the sense of being at a party.
It helps break the monotony of a day and lets me just be James for a while. That’s what social media is about – being sociable.
Ready to get started? Sign up, join in and follow me here. You can follow Harry, too. It’s a double-shot of the Men with Pens.