Next month will mark my five year anniversary of signing up for Twitter. My initial reason for creating a Twitter account was to prove to my soon-to-be supervisor that Twitter did have potential as a public relations tool. In a few short months on the job, I proved my point by getting clients media coverage via my Twitter connections. That agency has gone on to list social media as one of its specialties. I love feeling like a vanguard.
Since 2008 I’ve created two additional Twitter accounts and managed one for a nonprofit advocacy group. One of my Twitter accounts, ExploreSacto, keeps gaining followers (1,488 as of 5:26 pm today). I’d like to think it’s because of the content of my tweets, the majority of which are retweets related to Sacramento area happenings.
Earlier today I read a few Facebook posts by writer/editor David Watts Barton about Twitter and how several journalists he’s spoken with say they dislike Twitter but feel “[I] have to be on there.” I’ve heard several people who are otherwise big users of social media say they hate Twitter, and a friend & I were talking yesterday about celebrities who don’t want to use Twitter or don’t understand its purpose.
The purpose is easy: it’s another way to build and maintain your platform, which includes everything from your physical presence at events to your virtual presence (website, blog, social media, etc.) Any advertising or marketing expert will tell you that it’s impossible to reach all of your customers via one delivery method. To be successful it’s important to be on multiple platforms.
Twitter has been good to me. It’s given me story ideas (my first SacMag piece was about SacTweetup events). It’s helped me make friends in a new town. It’s gotten me more engaged in my community. On a broader scale, I have three main reasons why I still love Twitter:
1. Simplicity. Twitter requires users to be succinct, to boil down their message to the most relevant 140 characters. Sure, you can use tools that allow for longer tweets, but if you need to say that much, then why not just use Facebook, Tumblr, or a blog post? Or, better yet, why not write a tweet with a link to your blog or Facebook profile for the unabridged version of your commentary?
2. Portability. I predominately use HootSuite to manage my multiple Twitter accounts, whether it’s reading my timeline, sending tweets or searching for tweets on a specific topic. Whether I’m on my home computer or my mobile phone, I can easily see what’s going on. Even if I was using just the standard Twitter app for iPhone or Android, I’d still be able to get a lot done.
3. Adaptability. There are several ways to manipulate Twitter to help you work smarter. My favorites include creating lists (where you can read tweets from different users without actually following them) and setting up hashtag searches to find specialized content.
In the last 6 months I’ve been enjoying Twitter way more than Facebook, which has turned into a virtual bulletin board for images, videos, memes and other crap that I have no interest in seeing. Even with limiting the notification settings to Life Events only I still see things that, in my opinion, definitely do not qualify as a “Life Event.” I friend people on FB because I want to hear about THEM and keep in touch with them; I view FB as a place to hear/see what’s going on in their lives, not reposts & shares of random images/memes ad nauseam.
That being said, I continue to use Facebook because - again - it’s about the platform. Whether I’m writing copy, promoting a cause or event, or just having fun, I’m a believer in getting messages out via multiple streams.
I don’t expect my passion for Twitter to change anyone’s mind about whether or not they want to use it. But if you want help making Twitter work smarter for you, give me a shout.