social media ropes to skip: Twitter FAQ 3 why should I join and use Twitter?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/19 1 views

in c micro-blogging Twitter

    Going Solo Live – during the Going Solo conference, some interesting thoughts and issues were shared about Twitter. In the meantime I was trying to convince the editors of HRM the Journal that had just launched a social network to open HRM the Journal on Twitter.
    I asked my Twitter network and new Going Solo friends for some advice on this issue why one might be able to benefit from using Twitter. Here are their responses and my interpretations and FAQs #GoingSolo

We have already posted some FAQs about Twitter here:

ComMetrics – social media – ropes to skip – Twitter – FAQs

So based on some presentations at the Going Solo conference I thought I would pose a question to my Twitter followers:

ComMetrics ComMetrics Non Twitter user ask:what makes Twitter different from having a social network just send me e-mails-how can I answer, suggestion?LinksThanks

Africa and Europe (2008-05-18 – early evening)

derekabdinor derekabdinor @ComMetrics you see thought-leaders canvass and formulate on Twitter before they even blog it. Like you are doing now
Thibaut Thomas thibautthomas @ComMetrics Twitter is about conversation ecosystem, not so much about hardcore networking. Its faster, simpler like IM vs Email.

North America(2008-05-18 – noon-evening North American time)

Laura Fitton Pistachio @commetrics friend asks “what makes Twitter different from having a social network just send me e-mails?” @ reply him your answers?
Goldie Katsu goldiekatsu @commetrics Twitter allows you to expand your connections in ways that an email doesn’t. And you can chose who to listen to.
Laura Fitton Pistachio @commetrics look at the web link on my twitter page. That web page includes links to my blog posts about twitter that should help answer :)
Kathryn V Jones kathrynjones @ComMetrics twitter is far more dynamic, immediate and conversational than an email from a social network
Lisa Dilg pprlisa @ComMetrics Twitter is like being able to hear every convo in a crowded restaurant an being able 2 join in whichever sounds most interesting
Justin Yost jtyost2 @commetrics emails take time to process, feel like you have to answer
Tom Guarriello tomguarriello @ComMetrics twitter lets you peek at people who’d never email you and see what they’re interested in. Letting someone follow is low risk.
RobinMaiden RobinMaiden @commetrics it is very different. it accesabl. it is now. it is short and sweet.

Europe / North America (2008-05-19 – early morning)
HRMtheJournal HRMtheJournal @ComMetrics sending a question out via Twitter: great responses within a very short time (e.g., 6 hours or less) from experts all over.

Europe (2008-05-19 – early morning)
BoscoGurin BoscoGurin @ComMetrics depends on how careful followers read your tweets=resp. rate could be.5% from 2,000 followers= 10 high qual answers=GREAT help
InfoSec InfoSec @ComMetrics if zero-exploit of softw. vulerabilit happens now, Twitter = immediate feedback from fellow experts around the globe, great tool
CASEScontact CASEScontact @ComMetrics for our info sec portal for micro biz and home-usersTwitter->support subscribers fast,URLs where they get more info about
SMIuk08 SMIuk08 @ComMetrics ? use Twitter-responses you got ceteris paribus: women & North Americans more personal AND some countries &biz tweets > reserved
CyTRAP CyTRAP @ComMetrics think Twitter great to follow knowledgeable others and learn from them while sharing by giving URLs to white papers,great posts

What does it mean – based on these and some other responses we got?

Looking at the responses, I discovered the following without putting it in any order of importance.

1) Looking at the responses, North American Twitter users tweet more extensively on weekends than Europeans.

2) People use Twitter for different purposes. Some for getting expert input, others prefer lurking (i.e. observing what is happening) in the background – or quietly follow ‘important’ people.

3) Business (e.g., conference organizers) provides followers with more focused tweets than individuals. The latter may send out a lot of love and chatter to their friends using @… or letting everybody know that they are getting coffee or feeding the cat.

4) Thought-leaders and experts can canvass or inform followers about important issues (e.g., security alerts, why and how do you do X, etc.) and if need be can get a few quick responses (web-, mobile-, browser-interface for responding using Twitter).

5) The response rate will be very low anywhere from <.2 to .3% or so. However, if 3000 people follow you, better to get six thoughtful and helpful responses than be flooded with garbage. Most important, what one gets shows the person responding has insights that help you get a better handle on the issue(s) (i.e. quality is much better than quantity).

6) From Going Solo delegates and looking at their responses (some via e-mail) it seems as if freelancers watch Twitter during the workday. However, they choose not to get active if possible until after working hours (i.e. when getting out of bed – checking Twitter first, going to bed – checking again) or during weekends. This allows freelancers in keeping focused on the task they are working on right now, thereby not getting distracted by Twitter.

7) Learning curve and Twitter use – most accounts do not narrowly focus their tweets on the unique needs of their target group(s) (e.g., friends vs. business associates vs. clients). Naturally, there are some very notable exceptions:

Dominic Jones DominicJones InfoSec InfoSec

Old media has learned this a while back; different readers or viewers need different fare. The result has been an ever-increasing number of TV channels, newspapers, etc.

Many Twitter users serve you 10 or more tweets each day including weekends. In between these mini-posts, you will find some gems. Unfortunately, the rest is chaff. This can result in the situation where because of the trees you can no longer see the forest or vice versa. The result is the same, more confusion than order, more data instead of better information…


While much seems to change, even more stays the same. A while back, TV stations and newspaper barons decided to offer us more specialized channels and print publications to serve our needs better. This has allowed advertisers to spend money for media that supposedly reaches a desirable target audience.

When will those Twitter users with the largest following (e.g., 5,000 and more) start offering specialized feeds from different Twitter accounts? In turn, it might be easier to follow more than 150 people that send out three tweets or less per day. This is especially true if these tweets are focusing on what one’s followers are truly interested in.

Twitter users still seem to be grappling with this concept – Fact is that if you try to follow more than 150 users, there is no way you can check each tweet carefully and, therefore, follow the conversation. Of course, the choice is yours. Cut down on TV, limit contact with your family and kids even more to tweet more or else cut down Twitter use. Whatever you do, please choose wisely by doing the following:

    A) reduce the number of people you follow to 150, ANDB) make your tweets highly relevant to your target audience (have you identified your target audience – better do it now you might be surprised).

Nevertheless, the benefits of using Twitter can be manifold and range from such things as:

– Meeting interesting folks online, while running into them finally somewhere at some event – what a pleasure that can be – nothing beats a face-to-face meeting :-) ;

– getting interesting URLs and information from knowledgeable others you might otherwise never come across;

– getting support and advice using d …. (direct message others cannot see) from people whose ideas, opinions and knowledge you trust; as well as

– a business, conference or journal you can keep its readers, editorial board, conference reviewers informed about what is happening ==>

(e.g., Going Solo goingsolo, SMIuk08 SMIuk08, HRMtheJournal HRMtheJournal).

Some caveats

The sample we used is NOT a representative one. The conclusions drawn are not based on what I call science but just interpretations. Nonetheless, take them and make your choices wisely to avoid spending too much unproductive time on Twitter and other micro-blogging services.

Great posts about these issues you also find here:

Stowe Boyd – The Growing Backlash against PR Spam, And the Rationale for MicroPR – Twitter

Laura Fitton – How I Got My Start in Social Media- Twitter

Laura Fitton – Twitter Makes Us More

Suw Charman – Going Solo: Stephanie Booth; Laura Fitton – you only get what you give – Twitter

Kevin Anderson – future of news: attention, distraction and information glut – see Twitter

Call for Assistance

I am convinced that I have forgotten many important reasons and pointers why somebody should join Twitter. As well, what one can contribute to and gain from participating we have not covered well.

Hence, my plea to you is to please add your insights below by writing a comment (problems, just click on title of this post, go to bottom of post, voila – window for adding comment). This will make it that much more easy for others to decide to either join or stay away from micro-blogging, such as Twitter.

We made a start with some links to interesting posts addressing this issue in more depth above, care to share any links you have? Then please put them in a comment below:

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  • Thibaut Thomas

    I would add to look at your ratio followers/following, mine is 1:1, so I’m sure I’m not missing anything relevant.

    Some people have huge amounts of followers but follow a handful of trusted people.

    And others are, I think, losing it by following too many people at once, even though they have the same ratio of 1:1 (“star twitters”).

  • Sandro

    I find the points all very interesting indeed. Nevertheless, allow me to raise THREE issues.

    One of the concerns I have is that Twitter does not really allow for a conversation, similar to an SMS on my mobile it is okay to pass on info. Naturally, the content of the info is different while my SMS might tell my kid I am late picking her up from school, the tweet might refer the person to a blog post that is interesting.

    However, in both cases there is not really a discussion or conversation happening it is passing on bits of data.

    Second, similar to signing up for an SMS feed (e.g., football results), following Twitter users CAN result in you experiencing data ‘overflow’ quite fast – too many tweets too quickly during the day.

    It is like signing up to too many e-mail newsletters or RSS feeds. How can you keep track of 500 or so RSS feeds in your XYZ reader? Do you process these really, or maybe just scan or …. have you given up?

    If you are two weeks behind with catching up with your RSS feeds, are these still useful or better, should you not unsubscribe from some of them – Spring cleaning?

    Third and final point, I believe many people love Twitter because it is far easier to type a tweet than a thoughtful blog post. How much time did it take you Urs to write the above post? A good tweet or SMS, even if I edit it, no more than 5 minutes or so, right?

    PS. Jeremiah Owyang sent a tweet yesterday:

    Jeremiah jowyang Ugh, I’m really struggling keeping up with emails, it’s impacting my performance.

    Has he ever checked how much time it takes him to write his 20 or so tweets each day including Sundays and responding to x people with @ or the d (direct) signs?

    I suspect with Twitter something similar happens as does when people are being asked about how long they commute to and from work. In fact, they tend to forget to add the time it takes them each day to walk to and from the garage/car lot or bus station to the office or residence. Here, Jeremiah forgot the time he spends on Twitter answering people and sending out tweets. It must affect his performance or take time away from other things – like having a ‘real’ conversation 😉

    E-Mail I can manage (spam filters, filter rules, etc.) Twitter is a different story, at least for now. As well, guess how much time it took to post this comment just about 20 minutes with editing, much easier doing it via Twitter but could I have communicated all this?

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