You’ve probably heard about Twitter. Late night hosts joke about the latest celebrity tweet. While you watch the ballgame, you’re encouraged to follow your favorite team on Twitter. Even your preferred news website suggests you share the article you just read by Tweeting it to friends. Even if you don’t consider yourself “plugged in,” chances are, you’ve heard about Twitter. But just because you’ve heard about it doesn’t mean you know what it is, how to use it or even why you should care.
Over time Twitter has evolved. In the beginning, sharing information about what you were doing made up the bulk of Twitter. Therefore, it tended toward being a public address system for the terminally narcissistic. Mundane tweets about eating a Big Mac or getting excited about the weekend were the “Tweet du jour.”
If you encountered Twitter in its early days, you may have been turned off by it. Why should you care that someone is watching Golden Girls re-runs with his cat? Twitter probably seemed like a one-sided conversation of useless information.
You may still see Tweets such as “I like how my shoes are laced,” but they are no longer what make up the majority of Twitter. Today’s Twitter has emerged as a viable and valuable information source. With a new focus on sharing relevant information and engaging in conversation, you may want to take another look.
Twitter is now less “What are you doing?” and more “What’s going on?” It has become a source for instant news, a site to turn to for local information, and a place to network with professionals in your field. Depending on your motivation for using Twitter, you can search and find followers that are relevant to you and are based on your interests. You control who you follow, so you control what information you receive.
A News Source You Control
Unlike traditional media, the news you are receiving isn’t packaged and fed to you-it forms collectively. As this information is typically coming from a person, the information is more reliable and instead of waiting until the 6pm news, you’re getting the story instantly. Many traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio stations, and television have Twitter feeds and share information straightaway about current events, traffic, weather, and more.
Seeking out favorite organizations and businesses you frequent can also be a way to be the first to know about events, sales, and other announcements. Your city’s performing arts center Tweets about a pre-sale on an upcoming concert. Your favorite restaurant is now serving Sunday brunch. The local team just traded their star player.
Following colleagues on Twitter means you can share information about the latest trends, products, and events happening in your career field. Building an effective and powerful network of people you trust can help make your knowledge base stronger. You can use Twitter to build contacts and connections for sales leads and vendor suggestions. And when you tweet out a question, you can feel secure that the answer is from a reliable source because it is from a network you have personally cultivated.
Should You Use Twitter?
Since launching five years ago Twitter has seen incredible growth as more people discover its usefulness. The majority of Twitter users are very selective and deliberate about who they follow. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 81% of all users follow less than 100 people and 65% check the site for updates at most once or twice a week.
In addition, most users have less than 100 people following them, so if you join Twitter, there is no pressure to gain thousands of followers or to spend hours Tweeting your life away. In fact, you don’t even have to join the conversation. You can always just follow your interests and get information whenever you want without ever composing any Tweets.
So how you use Twitter is totally up to you. Whether it is for discovery, networking, conversation, news updates, questions or more totally depends on your interests and needs. Twitter can be a convenient tool to get the information you want, how and when you want it, with very little effort on your part. So give it a try and see what you just might discover.