The Average Jane’s Thoughts on Twitter

I have a confession to make – I don’t really understand the purpose of twitter.  I know, the horror!  Perhaps I should rephrase that statement, though.  I don’t understand why the average person who is not trying to reach out to a customer base or build some kind of a business would want to use twitter.  In short, for an average gal like myself, what’s the point?

While I do make use of twitter, I find it to be a daily struggle to figure out what in the world to tweet about.  I mean, do people really care what I’m doing?  I’m a stay at home mom so what I’m doing on any given day does not vary all that much.  I often find myself sitting down at the computer and trying to think of something profound or witty to post.  But I’m not really that profound a person and I’m not sure I’m all that witty, so I find myself staring at the screen in complete confusion.

Now, I’ve read this article so I do agree that twitter can be highly beneficial in the world of online social media.  It is a brilliant tool if you want to connect personally with employees or customers.  And as a blogger, I do see the benefits in tweeting about recent posts, thereby increasing the chance that my blog gets a broader readership.  That makes sense to me. 

A couple of days ago, I posed the question to my followers on twitter: Why do you use this service? What purpose does it serve for you?  I got a few responses, mostly from people who use it to promote business or services.  One person specifically told me how he was able to generate a rather large sale for his company simply by his interactions with a customer via twitter.  I get that.  In the context of promotion and marketing, twitter makes a lot of sense.  But there has to be more than that, right?  I don’t think I’m wrong in assuming that twitter was organized for more than just shameless self promotion.

My question is simple, why should I twitter?  What are people hoping to glean from the tweets that they read?  Does anyone really want to know that I just cleaned my kitchen…again?  Or that I ate scrambled eggs for breakfast?  This is my conflict.  I want to take part in this social media tool because it’s hailed so positively.  But, truth be told, I am just following the crowd with no real understanding of why I’m following.  And that makes me feel, well, kinda lame.

So will I stop twittering?  I don’t know.  I’m going to keep giving it a try.  I’m hoping that at some point I get it and can make better use of it as a social media tool.  At this point, what seems beneficial to me is to keep the list of people I’m following relatively small.  Otherwise I tend to get lost and overwhelmed by the long row of tweets and I find myself just searching for updates from those people that I know.  Again, I’m not sure if that is proper twitter protocol, but clearly I’m not overly twitter savvy.

I am truly curious to hear why many of you use twitter.  I would also like to know how the average person could benefit from an online tool like twitter.  Just to be clear, I am not at all questioning the effectiveness or validity of twitter and its users.  I am simply looking for a little bit of dialgoue.  Why twitter?  Your comments on the matter would be appreciated – and you don’t have to limit them to 140 characters or less!

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8 Responses to “The Average Jane’s Thoughts on Twitter”

  1. I don’t think there is that much to “get.” Twitter is just a 140 character microblogging platform that integrates with SMS which makes it particularly nifty. The real question is what do I blog and what do I read another blog? The problem is compounded because “blog” is nearly meaningless term at this point because it can mean TOO MANY things. On top of that, most of blogs are just noise: crap + content plus obnoxious ads, so we need to sift through the useless information. Twitter is just the same.

    I suspect the problem you are having is that you haven’t found anybody who you can interact with on a substantive level, whatever that means. I, for one, interact with clever old friends and bloggers who I like (and post amusing or useful info).

    A few of my favorites are

    @cwalken
    @jkottke
    @hotdogsladies
    @trevlix

    A good resource for finding the more amusing of twitters is Favrd

    But, like anything else on the internet, if you don’t go searching for some sort of community you are relegated to the terrible world of “social media gurus” and twitters who are concerned about how many followers you have. (Related to that is a great podcast by Mann and Gruber from SXSW on “Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility!“)

  2. Er, “…twitters who are concerned about how many followers you have,” should read “twitterers who are concerned about how many followers you have.

  3. Thanks, Andrew. I agree with you in the fact that I don’t necessarily have a group of specific people that I’m following that I am able to interact with. When I signed up for twitter, I just began following anyone who followed me first. There are a few people thrown into that list who I really wnjoy reading, but for the most part I find myself annoyed with some of the daily postings.

    Thanks for the resource, though, and for the list of people that you enjoy following. I appreciate that. I’m not giving up on twitter just yet. I’m just trying to figure out how to make it work for me.

  4. The question shouldn’t be why you should twitter, the question is can you get anything by following people and reading their tweets. Can you learn anything from interacting with 100, 200, 500, or 1000 other human beings on a regular basis–even in a limited way like twitters 140 characters? Of course you can. It’s just another platforum for human interaction, like the phone, email, blogs, chat etc.

    I learn things every day on twitter, read things I wouldn’t have read, hear things I wouldn’t have heard, get to know people that I might not have known. All of these things aren’t all that valuable individually, but in agrigate they’re priceless.

    Personally I think business or product promotion is the worst use of twitter. It’s not why most people use it. When and if the majority of users of twitter are using it in this way, it’s value will be so deminished that it will be nearly useless. Advertising is the lowest form of human communication.

  5. Another question for you might be, if you’re already using Facebook to connect and interact with your friends, do you really need Twitter? What can Twitter do that Facebook cannot?

  6. Scott,

    I think that Twitter is more serendipitous than Facebook. Most people use FB to connect with friends they already have, and it seems to me that Twitter is a better way to find new people to interact with. That said, obviously I don’t think everyone should do both or one or the other. Everyone should only do what they feel comfortable and enjoy.

  7. spellchecker Says:

    agrigate = aggregate
    deminished = diminished

    10,000 different ways to verify the spelling of a word means not ever spelling something incorrectly again.

  8. I started using Twitter in December and Facebook a few months later. On Twitter I have connected with people that I didn’t know before joining. On Facebook, I friend people from the past, coworkers, friends and family. If we didn’t go to school together, and we don’t know each other in real life, I won’t accept a friend request on FB.

    On Twitter, I get the opportunity to meet so many people that I would never meet otherwise. As a real estate agent and blogger, my goal is to get in front of as many St. Louis people as possible. So, I’ll follow almost anyone that lives in St. Louis. I also follow people outside of the St. Louis area that tweet interesting information.

    Two things in particular have made Twitter really valuable to me. I’ve attended several Tweetups, and meeting people in person changes everything. They become new friends and you want to help each other by retweeting (forwarding tweets) and answering questions. It’s no different than networking in any other setting.

    As someone that is new to tech stuff, I love that Twitter has a heavy user base of techie people. Anytime I have a computer problem or question, all I have to do is ask on Twitter and I get instant answers.

    FB is good too. I update my status less often since it is more like a message board than a constant conversation. But, I’m also more comfortable sharing personal info that I wouldn’t want potential clients to know. On the other hand, if there is something I feel like announcing that I can’t say with some people that I know listening, then Twitter is a safer place to share. For example, I’ve gone on a couple of dates with one guy that is a FB friend, so when I wanted to complain about him calling too much, I did it on Twitter.

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