It’s funny, but my friends think I’m a digital wizard. After all, I maintain 3 blogs and have a life in 6 social networks (not all are on FriendFeed). For a 55-year-old geezer, some think I am seriously connected. Now I add one more network.
After bailing out of Twitter more than a year ago, I have returned for a look around. And I like what I see.
This isn’t a post to extol the virtues of Twitter. I’m still learning my way around the application and observing the culture. Nor is this a mea culpa for my occasional criticism of “twits” over the past 15 months.
But I will say this: Twitter is more useful and interesting than it was in the summer of 2007, when I sampled it then dropped out. I didn’t get it then, but I am no earlier adopter. Today, I find on Twitter has a critical mass of interesting people I can learn with and learn from. It makes an old professor smile.
Most readers of ToughSledding aren’t part of the Twiterati, so I’ll share a few observations:
Twitter offers great links, provided you follow thoughtful people. I tag 3-4 blogs and websites a day — sites pointed out by those in my network. Ergo, Twitter supports my research and advances my learning curve in the digital world. I find great links on traditional blogs, too, but that takes time I don’t always have.
Twitter is efficient. The writers post a sentence or phrase telling me why a certain link has value. If the topic interests me, I click. Some links prove useful, some not. Point is, the tweets expose me to a broader range of content than I get form the 40 or so blogs on my feeder. That said, we all know there’s a downside to brevity: lack of substance.
Twitter is human. This is good and bad. I’ve seen the personal side of folks who heretofore were just avatars at the top of a blog. It makes them more approachable and it adds dimension to the characters of this social media drama (or is it a comedy?). Some tweeters tell us way too much about their lives and activities. But I have the option of dropping their feeds.
The downside to Twitter?
Tweet are seldom profound and never in-depth. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, and most are hastily posted. Only a select few are what I’d call “thoughtful,” and I tag those with a gold star when I spot them. In the end, I see Twitter expanding my network of contacts, and it takes a lot less effort than writing a post like this.
Spam lives on Twitter. A number of my followers are hoping I’ll also follow them and in turn be exposed to their self-serving tweets. So far a musician, a stock broker and a couple of for-profit bloggers are following me. Twitter need not be a reciprocal arrangement. Don’t follow a spammer.
Twitter is a little too immediate. I get the most from Twitter exchanges when they occur in real time. But I’m not willing to take feeds on my cell phone, and I’m not interested in wireless Web access. So if I’m not at the keyboard, I’m late to the conversation. No matter. Twitter is a community that doesn’t seem to care if you drop in and out whenever — or if you just listen.
Damn. I guess I did write a post about the virtues of Twitter. Sorry. But you know, as a teacher of public relations, it’s my job to understand social media along with the other forms of communication. Like my students, I learn by doing. That said, I continue to be shocked at the number of PR professionals I meet who aren’t even experimenting in this Web 2.0 world.
The Twitter widget in the right column is just another part of learning by doing. Someday I will be a master of the WordPress. Right.
One more thing. For you Grateful Dead fans on Twitter, check out @Jerry_Garcia. The Fatman lives, and there’s lyrical wisdom in every tweet!