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Why I Twitter

Despite all the talk about it, most people, even most savvy Web types, don’t use Twitter. That’s not a problem–it’s just true. That means that even among the dress-in-black blog-writing, Facebook-using folks “in the know,” Twitter people like me are still in the minority. It also means that I often get asked why I Twitter, so I decided to sit down and make a list.

My design for Twitter's "over capacity&qu...

Image by Mykl Roventine via Flickr

Twitter, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Twitter makes me a better writer. In 140 characters, a person has to be concise. As an example: there was a time I would have said “pretty concise” in that sentence, but now I’m over it. The term “pretty” adds no value to the thought, so I downsized it. I credit Twitter with forcing me to reexamine my writing style and improve it so that each word adds value to a sentence.
  2. Twitter networks me with interesting people. On the one hand, there are the celebrity thinkers like Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, and Guy Kawasaki who would be interesting in any venue; they happen to be on Twitter. Next, there are everyday people who I’m getting to know; Carma, Kristin, Michelle, Chuck and so many friendly others.
  3. Twitter is functional. Indyprov, the improv comedy troupe I’m in, uses Twitter to promote local shows. The Humane Society of Indianapolis, who I volunteer with, uses Twitter to promote adoptable pets. Local Indianapolis businesses, such as The Bean Cup and Yats practice micro-marketing and make offers which I’ve taken advantage of and recommended to others via retweets–that’s good business for both of us.
  4. Twitter is local. Twitter facilitates connections on a local level; as an example, I noticed a few of my local followers often mention hanging at The Bean Cup, an independent coffee house in southside Indianapolis. I live only 2 miles away, but have never heard of them because their location is hidden from view of the nearby thoroughfare. I checked them out by taking them up on a Twitter promotion offering free coffee for Twitterers who stopped in. I liked the place so well, I’ve been back often. And from the business perspective, that’s an effective promotion.
  5. Twitter is global. When something happens in the world–the Mumbai attacks or the Miracle on the Hudson–Twitterers are talking about it. Sure, I didn’t need to know that a Flat Stanley survived Flight 1549’s landing, but I found out through Twitter and that personalized the event for me. The news is no longer remote to me when I get these details.
  6. Twitter interlinks my social networks. I have networks on plaxo, on friendfeed, facebook and on linkedin. They operate differently, and through the magic of RSS I can keep them updated and current–I can be with my network contacts wherever they chose to be. Some people get heavily invested in their network and don’t want to leave to join you on another site; with Twitter, I can update their preferred networking site at will and stay in touch.
  7. Twitter is an instant expert aggregator. Post a question, and hear back from your group with their thoughts and ideas. Even when the question isn’t answered, often direction is given which can lead you to an answer.
  8. Finally, Twitter still has that new-website-smell. Almost 2 years since I joined, it hardly feels broken in, and I’m enjoying being part of the community who is defining the utility of the site. Daily I find new uses for Twitter and I enjoy sharing them on my blog. In this way, I’ve created a niche for myself where others come to me to find out about Twitter tools and tips.

What do you like about Twitter? Post to let me know–or tweet me @ejly.

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