Posted by: Jo Duxbury | 9 March 2009

Why I’m a Twit

I was a bit of a late adopter when it comes to Twitter, only signing up in the middle of 2008. A sucker for Facebook, I was reluctant to join yet another online social network which could erode my productivity.

Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ platform – your ‘tweets’ consist of 140 characters (max) and you post them on your profile, which is fed through to the people who ‘follow’ you. Similarly you get feeds (similar to Facebook status updates) from the people you choose to follow.

The first few weeks I was on Twitter were frustrating – I felt I had to monitor it constantly in case I missed out on something. Then I learnt about @ messages (messages sent to you that everyone can see) and direct messages (private messages sent directly to you) – these are stored separately, meaning you won’t miss out on them in the general stream of chat.

The other frustrating thing was the NOISE that goes on. People tweet the most random things – what they had for lunch, how they’re feeling (tired, amped, whatever…). I learnt to ‘unfollow’ people whose streams were banal and uninteresting, and to let it all just wash over me.

These days I find Twitter to be an invaluable resource. I use it to:

  • Connect with new people.When users ‘retweet’ someone else’s comment, it could be someone I don’t follow, but I get exposed to them that way. A ‘friends of friends’ type of expansion which has resulted in a couple of interesting project collaborations.
  • Ask questions and get information. From demographic information in the Cape Town city bowl to ideas for healthy snacks, I put the question out there and – within minutes – get really useful responses.
  • Discover new websites and links. I’ll click a link in a tweet probably 95% of the time.
  • Find freelancers and other suppliers. I post all Freelancentral’s Placement briefs on Twitter.
  • Do research. I use Twitter to get feedback and quotes from people for my BizCommunity articles.
  • Lastly, as a solo entrepreneur, I feel like I have a whole group of colleagues whose chatter I can choose to join in or ignore, any time of the day or night.

Twitter won’t work for everyone, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! (Follow me here.)

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Responses

  1. I just, just, just signed up to Twitter for a lot of the reasons you list here. I’m following you now because you seem to know what’s going on 🙂

    Isn’t FB getting to be a bore? Twitter = info and social contact without the irritating apps and weird admin.

  2. @candieo Ulp, now the pressure’s on! Thanks for the follow. I read an interesting article yesterday about the ‘statusphere’ taking over the ‘blogosphere’. Perhaps that’s a sign of our ever-decreasing attention spans? Or just a reaction to information overload…

  3. I vote info overload. Not attention span–I can still read a novel in one day, and so can most people I know. The interwebs will soon be ruled by sites that allow users to tailor content. “I am not a target market” and all that.

    As a side note, kudos on freelancecentral. What a resource! The market’s been begging for something like that.

    OK! Now I’m going to go study my Twitter cheatsheet!


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