The Twitterverse is growing.
I am sure every reader who stumbles here is already on Facebook, but are you active on twitter?
#1 REASON AMONG NON-USERS
The most frequently cited excuse by non-users is that they feel twitterdom is too fast and hence probably too aloof for their liking. They feel it adds nothing and that the data is too fleeting to be of any value.
I will address only the first part, but by the time I finish,I hope to make it clear that Twitter is not about data but about connections and relations. Is this your Reason?
After all, statistics indicate that close to or less than 25% of your followers actually read any of your tweets, and that too if you are lucky enough to have very attentive listeners!
I completely dig it if this is the first reaction you formed after testing out twitter.
THE TALE OF TWO TWEETS
Indeed, I first tried twitter long ago when I decided to make the switch to Facebook and I personally found Facebook too intensely personal for my liking.
- I could not make any sense of Twitter, nor could I get a grip on how or why anybody would use it.
- I was convinced it was a passing fad.
I was more comfortable with the one to one format of Orkut where only me and the people who take the trouble to visit my ‘scrapbook’ would know what is happening. Switching to Facebook meant that every conversation I have is broadcasted to every one of my friends.
It took me a long time to get used to that, and even now I am quite shy about saying/sharing anything personal on Facebook.
I LOVE TWITTER
But now I am a die-hard believer in Twitter
Here are the reasons why you would also grow to love Twitter.
All it takes is a little perspective shift on how you see Twitter. I assure you that it is an environment you will feel completely comfortable in.
Why? Let me tell you how I grew to love Twitter and try to shape your new perspective on Twitter from my own example.
The reason I started to love Twitter was because it recreates for me the atmosphere of my beloved old school classroom whenever we had a free hour.
It was an utter chaos and everybody had a topic to discuss, be it Sachin Tendulkar’s latest batting display or the latest WWF match or the library book or the fashion fad or the new contest by NASA or next months exams or best friend’s new crush or Dad’s new car…. the topics were literally endless!
NOW THE COMPARISON
To me at least, twitter recaptures that classroom atmosphere where everybody had a hundred things to say about a hundred things and everybody wanted everyone else to listen.
- Oh how I used to love it when somebody turned their attention towards me so that I could tell them about this wonderful new book series I had discovered called Doctor Who!
Imagine the similarities:
In the Twitter Feed, millions of users are talking about what they love and about things that interest them, all the while hoping that somebody would be interested enough to follow them or pass along their message.
Comparing to the earlier example of doctor who, imagine that I was trying to talk about a new doctor who book I had bought.
- And if another friend joined the conversation or your buddy decided to talk about it, suddenly we have a #doctorwho going around!
- And if he finds it interesting enough and thinks that the topic will get him attention from others, he might start talking about it himself to others as if it was his own idea even! Learn to retweet old buddy! By the way, these social etiquettes are very important.
- To extend the comparison even further, I might have hit upon a really wonderful topic but unless it gets noticed, soon it will be buried in the torrent of other topics that everyone wants to talk about (why did x cry yesterday??).
- And yes you can always retweet your old conversation and try to bring it up again or dress it up in new form as a new tweet (Hey, time travel, what happens if you were time traveling and you met yourself before the last physics exam? Talking of time travel there is this really cool book in which…).
THE SOCIAL LADDER
Also, you can just sit where your clique is and talk about particular topics, maybe even from book clubs or science clubs.
There you go, you had invented #hashtags long before twitter though of it. It is after all just an extension of people tuning into one topic of interest among myriads of them.
- You could also give out phone numbers to select people whom you really feel like bonding with, and that is what you do when you decide that you like someone on twitter enough to invite them over to your friends list in Facebook. I am sure less them 50% of your classmates had your phone number and a much lesser percentage if you are a pretty girl!
- The next step would have been to invite him/her over to your home, and the corresponding level in the Social Media world is of course to share your personal email id even though the main page of your email is called “inbox” and that of Facebook is called “Home page”.
A SMALL NOTE ON FACEBOOK
If you are in my Facebook friends list that only means we keep each other updated.
Facebook might be a great social medium but my take on it is that it is a medium for staying in touch and sharing with friends rather than dynamically exploring the global community for people who might enrich your life. Here are some links on why twitter trumps facebook.
TWITTER AND THE ART OF TWEETING
So, for me twitter is where I share my interests and shout and grab for attention just so that I meet some like-minded people who will single me out from all that chatter purely because we are in the same wave length.
Then we might have a few conversations, I will start noticing him/her when they speak and the more our thoughts and interests match, the more I interact with that person.
This all happens in the same natural way we used to form friendships in school, no rules, no restrictions, talk whenever you feel like and listen to only what interests you as long as you are colleagues.
Other people might be talking but as long as you are talking to each other, you are lost in your own world, your own @names are all that matters even when your neighbour is shouting loud about the circus in town.
But of course, as you get closer and share numbers and going over etc then you migrate your friendship to a more personal space and everything you say will be listened to and get the right to intrude whenever you want and eventually you become fast life long friends.
THE TAO OF TWITTER
All the above was to illustrate for you how intimately Twitter ties in with how we formed our earliest friendships.
There is a reason why our oldest friends are our most cherished friends. It is because those friendships were formed with complete selfish intent based on the ability of the people involved to engage each other over a long period of time.
You might be friends with everyone in school (read 10,000 followers/following) but you might listen to very few of them even though you might give polite nod ever now and then to the casual remarks from others.
Also, on a lighter note, much like in our old classrooms, the percentage of people actually willing to LISTEN is more or less the same on twitter. Everybody has their piece to say and wants everyone to listen and talk about it. But as it was then, so it is now in twitter, the ones willing to listen and interact are the most popular in class.
One more quick comparison while we are still on the lighter note… The teacher enters the class room. And? Welcome, Fail Whale!
I think the next logical step for twitter is to provide ability to have private conversations, but then it would move away from its core strength of replicating my classroom and move into the sphere of Facebook or Orkut. Unfortunately Twitter is already moving in this direction with the introduction of lists which allows a user to screen out other users they follow.
And this would take away the most important feature of the classroom which was that five people might be talking about the latest Star Wars movie and you could always try to butt in and even if you were not noticed, you could always listen in (read follow) and talk about it to others (read ReTweet).
And if they find you interesting they might always turn to you and say good point (read @mention).
If you really do find the flow of information too much to handle, by all means resort to lists rather than opting out of twitter altogether. Also be TwitterSmart and check out some wonderful tips by my good friend neuesweb on staying on top of twitter.
THE ESSENCE OF TWITTER
But, try to stay true to the core strength of twitter - The ability to sample the entire world to find people like you and to form real lasting meaningful relations progressively. Be careful in how your interaction progresses over time, keep it true to the concept I have tried to explain above and remember that you are in your old classroom!
As long as the users keep twitter innocent and use it as an organic medium for communicating their interest with anybody who might lend a ear, twitter will soon grow to be the best social media yet.
Twitter, to me, is my classroom atmosphere taken and magnified a million times and I am completely at home in it and I hope you will be too, soon.
Find me @RenegadeTramP and let us match ideas and interests!