I originally committed to using Twitter for 30 days. So far, I have enjoyed the service and intend to keep using it. My wife, Gail, and four of my five daughters are active. I have sure this is one of the reasons I am still using it.
If you are wondering why in the world you should consider it, here are twelve reasons:
- It will enable you to experience social networking first-hand. One of my pet peeves is people who pontificate on new technologies but have never actually used them. This is particularly annoying—but common—among CEOs. Real users can always tell the difference. There is no substitute for personal experience.
- It will make you a better writer. Twitter only allows you to post 140 characters at a time. As a result, you are forced to be concise. In my opinion, this is one of the hallmarks of good writing. Short messages. Short paragraphs. Short sentences.
- It will help you stay connected to people you care about. This is one of the few technologies I’ve found that actually contributes to community-building. In today’s busy world, it’s difficult to keep up with others. Twitter makes it easy—and fun.
- It will help you see a new side of your friends. In an odd sort of way, Twitter “humanizes” people and provides a context for better understanding them. If you follow me on Twitter, for example, you’ll quickly see that I get excited, bored, frustrated, and confused—sometimes all in the same day. You’ll also learn what is important to me and what drives me crazy.
- It will introduce you to new friends. I have now met several new people via Twitter. These have contributed to my life in small but significant ways. Gail and I have even had dinner with a couple that we met via Twitter.
- It is faster than text-messaging. In a sense Twitter is a universal text messaging system. You can broadcast to all of your “followers” (i.e., people who subscribe to your Twitter feed) or send a direct message to just one. As a result, I have almost completely stopped text messaging. The only time I use it is to reply to someone who messages me outside of Twitter.
- It will make you think about your life. As you answer the question, “What am I doing?” you start to see your life through the lens of the people following you. Interestingly, it has made me more intentional and thoughtful about my life.
- It will help you keep up with what people are talking about. Via Twitter, I have learned about hot books, cool software, breaking news, and even great restaurants. Because the information is coming from real people who care enough to Twitter about it, I have found it more valuable and authentic.
- It can create traffic for your blog or Website. I have noticed a 30% uptick in my blog traffic in the last 30 days. It may be related to the fact that I have been in the news more or have been writing on more controversial posts. However, I also think it is related to the fact that I am Twittering every time I post a new blog entry. This seems to have a viral effect.
- It requires a very small investment. Twitter itself is a free service. In terms of my time, I probably invest less than 20 minutes a day. Since “tweets” (i.e., posts) are limited to 140 charters or less, you can scan them in a second or two. Writing them usually takes less than 30 seconds.
- It can help build your personal “brand.” When people hear your name, what comes to mind? What is your reputation? What is the “brand promise”? Brands are built incrementally, one interaction at a time. Twitter gives you one more way to build your brand, one tweet at a time.
- It is fun! Twitter is just plain entertaining. Following your family and friends is kind of like watching reality TV. The difference is that you know the people and actually care about them. In this sense, it is even more fun, because you know more about the people from other contexts. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
I’m sure there are some downsides to Twitter that I am either ignoring or don’t recognize. But I would rather jump into the fray and shape the future of social networks rather than sit on the sidelines and throw stones.