One of the inevitable consequences of Twitter’s growing popularity, is that wherever Twitterers are, they find themselves facing the famous question “What is this Twitter thing everyone is talking about?” I am asked that question literally 5 times a day, and it always leads me to a long rant about how great Twitter is and why everyone should join. (If you do join, follow me here)
Now, it is true that my reasons vary depending on my audience, Twitter will not appeal to my parents the same way it will appeal to a guy my age who is very familiar with the Web and the world of social media. Having said that, there are some universal benefits to tweeting that everyone should know about, so I thought I would list them for you, and I intend on sending this link to anyone who presents that question to me from here on in.
So, here are my top 6 ways to benefit from Twitter:
1: Networking: I am a strong believer that no matter what you do in life, whether you are a blogger, teacher, stay-at-home mom, or CEO of a company, it is always beneficial to build yourself a strong network. This network can be with the goal of eventually monetizing it (traffic to your site for example) or just meeting some really interesting people whose path you would never cross had it not been for Twitter. This is the foundation of Twitter. Without a network of followers, you are in essence tweeting to no one, your tweets are falling on empty ears. So, as I have written before, do not treat Twitter like Facebook and open an account then check back every month. You need to proactively build your network in order to maximize the potential that Twitter offers its users.
2: News: This is something I think everyone, no matter who you are or what you do, can benefit from. I have not opened a news site in a few months. All my news about current events come from Twitter. Anything that happens around the world, if it is important enough that I would want to know about it, is going to be tweeted by one of the the 2,000 people that I follow. It was true about the plane on the Hudson, it was true about the Mumbai attacks, and it was true about any other significant event that occurred over the last few months. The other big difference between reports you will read on CNN and those on Twitter is that tweets about news are generally in real time. You will most likely know about an event from Twitter before the major news networks pick up the story (although, almost all the news networks started using Twitter to get and report breaking stories).
3: Information: Once again, this is only possible if you take the time to build up your network. Twitter has replaced Google for me in so many ways. One of these ways is that I no longer search Google for answers to computer related questions. I have an error, virus, or a question about a certain product, why would I search Google and read anonymous opinions, when I can get an immediate answer from one of my friends on Twitter? Today, I had a question about Chrome. Yes, I could’ve Googled it and found the answer, instead I tweeted my question, got a faster answer and a much clearer one as well, then I would have gotten from reading forums via Google.
4: Job Search: As a person who was “lucky” enough to have gone through the whole layoff/job search experience, I can tell you first hand from mine as well as my friends’ experiences, searching for a job through Twitter will be easier and much more effective than using the traditional job sites. You are presumably following people in your field or at least with a common interest, and assuming you are somewhat interesting, they are following you back. Once again, why would you want to start looking through a job placement site, filtering out the irrelevant fields, narrowing it down to what you are looking for, and only maybe finding an oppurtunity, when you can simply tweet that info in less than 140 characters and 99% of the time come up with at the very least a good lead? I have at least 4 friends that after looking for months ended up landing a job thanks to Twitter.
5: Entertainment: This is a tricky one. A lot of the people I speak to claim that they have no interest in following this celebrity or another. I hear that and fully understand, but I think that everyone needs a good laugh every once in a while. What better way to lay back and enjoy some relaxation time then following Shaq on Twitter? Just hisspelling alone will make you laugh, guaranteed. In all seriousness though, there is something to be said for having the ability to write to your favorite celebrity/athlete. They might not respond to you, but 9 out of 10 times, they will see your tweet. I know some people are going to disagree about the value in that, but I think it will appeal to a lot of young people out there.
6: Friendships: At the risk of sounding corny, I have to say, I did not join Twitter for this reason, but it ended up being the number most enjoyable part of my Twitter experience. Let me explain! Twitter is all about giving, sorry for the cliche’ but it is really true. What keeps Twitter’s blood pumping is the give and take relationships that exist between Twitter users. This kind of dynamic contributes to a lot of friendships built on Twitter that go far beyond Tweetdeck. I was fortunate enough to attend a few Tweetups (it’s as it sounds, a real life Twitter meetup) and to meet the people behind the avatars, and let me tell you, I have encountered some truly amazing people through Twitter.
When my daughter was born a few weeks ago, I received a HUGE basket of clothing and accessories for her from Twitterers, most of whom I had met no more than once. The basket itself was prepared by a company owned by a fellow twitterer as well. This is the kind of chemistry that can be found among the Twitter community. Everyone is just so sharing, helpful, and generous. So even if the first 5 reasons didn’t do it for you, this one should. Everyone likes meeting nice people, Twitter is the place to do it.
There are at least 10 more reasons I can think of why you, no matter who you are, should join Twitter. After you take my advice and open an account, I wouldn’t want you to be one of the people that tweet once, decide they don’t “get” it, and leave, so it is important to read the following articles before jumping in: