Twitter – What is it Good For?

When I first started hearing of “Twitter”, I wondered who in the world would (a) be interested in what I was doing every second of the day, and (b) take the time to blog up-to-but-no-more-than 140 characters about what they were doing every second. First I started hearing of celebrities (admittedly “B” and “C” list) who were tweeting to their fans who signed up as “followers” and apparently WERE interested in the minutiae of their favorite celebs’ lives. And by minutiae, I mean things like “I have a rash that is driving me crazy”, or “I am about to eat a tuna fish sandwich and maybe a couple of chips”.

I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. Still couldn’t see it catching on. I now see that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Admittedly, I use Facebook’s “What’s on your mind?” application occasionally and am always interested to read what my FB friends are doing as well. I also admit I have never tweeted. However, it occurs to me that it is probably a very useful marketing tool for celebrities, politicians, and businesses. I’ve read where some politicians have fulltime tweeters and celebrities now hire “ghost” tweeters because, of course, they are too busy to speak to the masses themselves.

Recently, citizens in countries that have oppressive regimes are finding Twitter a helpful and necessary tool to disseminate information and rally protesters against their governments (Iran and Moldova in particular). People are using Twitter to report on government crackdowns, arrests, and oppression. Many frontline reporters send tweets when other types of messages cannot be broadcast. It is difficult, if not impossible, to censor tweets. This is a double-edged sword, as there is really no way to vet tweets for veracity, and therefore Twitter can also be used to spread lies and propaganda.

Web designers are finding that the Twitter Web Design and Developer Toolbox can be quite beneficial. They can quickly set up a multi-person blog as long as all members have Twitter accounts. Web designers can also create a box to showcase their Twitter rants and raves in a sidebar without having to install plug-ins that can bog down their sites. There are all kinds of sites and tutorials for designers to learn Twitter tricks and shortcuts.

Another way web designers are using Twitter to gain quality followers is by adding other designers they know and then tweeting relevant design tips and tricks instead of the usual “I am doing…” Many designers report getting jobs and customers through Twitter because it reaches people they ordinarily would not have access to. They advise fellow designers to create a unique branding and identity and say that constructing a biography and adding a picture increase chances of showing up in a Twitter search.

Okay, I am starting to see that Twitter CAN have value if it is used in a thoughtful, altruistic way to better the world we all live in and to help each other. But, really, I think it’s mostly going to be used by people telling others thing like “I just ate, and man, am I sleepy” or “I just woke up…am SO hungry…but had to tweet before doing anything else”. You know, important stuff.

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