Being a heavy Twitter user has presented a very serious challenge for me. I am asked multiple times every day, "What is Twitter?" I always try to answer that question in the most relevant way taking my audience into consideration. It is really hard to sell Twitter to someone who just doesn't get it.
- Simplicity: This is Twitter's greatest asset. It has been said by many that it is Facebook without all the noise. Twitter is simply a website that enables you to write a 140 character message to all your followers. Twitter does not host links, pictures, videos, or anything else. Just text. However, since the Twitter community has realized the enormous potential Twitter has, they have developed an endless amount of 3rd party applications and services to support the Twitter culture. I have asked people on Twitter many times why Twitter does not have more features built-in, and I think it was only recently when I truly understood the answers I received then. Yes, Twitter can easily implement a retweet functionality on its site, but the moment Twitter becomes more feature-packed and complex, is the moment Twitter loses its spot as the number 1 social network (I am talking in its awesomeness, not its numbers).
- Searchability: This is yet another huge advantage Twitter has over other social networks. Tweets are searchable. This means you can find tweets about any topic that interests you, and participate in real-time quality dialog with people you do not know, from all around the world. More importantly though, if you intend to use Twitter for a very specific purpose, it is a completely trivial and seamless task to find people interested in the exact same purpose. If you are a blogger, search Twitter for the word "Blogger", follow the people that show up in the results, and you have yourself a serious blogger network. It's as easy as that.
- Popularity: This one is not what it seems. I am not saying you should use Twitter because everyone else is. What I am saying is that due its widespread use across pretty much all industries, you can get a lot done using Twitter. Let me give a few examples. An acquaintance of mine was recently laid off. When we were discussing his options, I told him to join Twitter, and we will find him a job. At the time, he did not take my offer very seriously. Well, a few days later, I got a tweet from him that he had joined Twitter. I immediately tweeted that a friend joined Twitter, linked to his name, and mentioned that he is looking for a position as pre-sales technical support. It was not 30 seconds later when I got a response from someone saying that her company is hiring. That is Twitter. Another very famous example is of course the famous Hudson river plane crash. The man who took the picture of the plane posted it on Twitter and had tens of thousands of views before the news even reached CNN. Twitter is a good replacement for traditional news and job placement sites, user and technical support forums, as well as many other things, depending on how you choose to use it.
- Availability: By now, you should be convinced that Twitter is something worth trying. If you have not yet decided, this might help. Almost every current website, the latest being YouTube, has a Twitter button, that when clicked, tweets whatever content you are looking at, and shares it with all the members of your Twitter network. So, for example, if you are watching a funny or interesting clip on YouTube, no more need to email the link or copy and paste the URL into your Facebook, you can now just click the Twitter button, and share the video with thousands of people instantaneously. Today, on almost all websites, there is a toolbar kinda like the one you see below this post that enables you to share the content with all your followers in one click. A highly effective distribution method.
- Flexibility: This is a very important characteristic of Twitter. However, this reason serves more of a support for the previous 4 and will not be the one to convince anyone to tweet. Twitter is a lot more flexible than any other social network. There are endless desktop clients that enable you to access your Twitter, each in their own way. So, unlike Facebook for example, you can really use Twitter in any way you want. There is a hot debate about using Twitter for self promotion, but you can in theory use Twitter to build yourself a large personal network, find business partners, or just promote your business, whatever it might be. You can also use it to achieve many different goals. There are Twitter networks for pretty much everyone out there. Whether you are a real estate agent or a wine lover, a pilot or a doctor, a designer or a journalist, there is already a very developed Twitter community waiting for you to join them.
Let me just conclude by telling you that this morning was when the idea for this post popped into my head. At that point, I tweeted the following question: "Twitter is great because of its __ity. Fill in the blank" . Most of the above reasons to join Twitter were taken from the tens of responses I got, all within a half an hour. I know Twitter can be a little intimidating at first, but the Web offers endless tutorials and articles on how to use Twitter. Additionally, the Twitter industry is always developing, but with services like Wefollow.com, Topify, and Tweetdeck, there really is no reason that you should not join Twitter and get the maximum out of it, both on a personal and business level. If you have any question about Twitter, no matter how basic, do not hesitate to email me or ask it in the comments, and I will try to reply promptly.