What is Twitter?
It is to “talk rapidly and at length in an idle or trivial way : he twittered on about buying a new workshop,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary.
And why is this a good thing?
Initially, Twitter appears to be this narcissistic application where people spill their guts on a more or less perpetual basis about whatever it is that they are thinking, feeling, or doing. Some people actually WILL tweet things like “brushing my teeth.” And that’s just the beginning of why so many people don’t see value in Twitter. If you search local tweets, odds are good that there will be bunches of really banal stuff. It aches worse than TV commercials, because there isn’t even a show to enjoy in between the comments.
So why is Twitter interesting?
Because with a few tips and tricks, Twitter becomes informative, sharp, witty, fun, and very inspiring: on any topic.
The secret is to control what you’re looking at by using searches to follow interesting people. For instance, if you’re interested in kayaking, you can search for people who tweet about kayaking. Some of these people might represent retailers, but odds are good that there will be informative, interesting tweets about your sport. And you get to tweet about your own kayaking experiences with people that can really appreciate what you have to say. People will post links to articles that you’d never get to see during a regular business day and it’s all there in the blink of an eye and waits for a moment while you’re in an elevator or making coffee.
It costs nothing, except a little time up front, in order to create the kind of Twitter experience that feels like dipping into a stimulating pool of interesting ideas, instead of wading in a lukewarm kiddie pool.
Here are some basic steps. It takes as much or as little time as you want to invest, but the results are truly rewarding:
1) Create a short name and profile that tells people a little about you and your interests. Here’s mine for example: “into creative inspiration, writing, graphic design – passions include iPhone geekery, GoogleWave, and caffeine.”
I chose to create a background wallpaper that matches my personal blog and links to Digital Associations, along with a photo so that people know they’re dealing with a real person instead of an automated stream of marketing broadcasts.
2) Search for interesting people to follow via the Twitter search feature or through a search engine like Google. I found a great list of web designers and writers to follow, because it’s good to see what others in my areas of interest are saying and doing. It inspires. For instance, I discovered that even among the very high end and established web designers, very few people are incorporating animations into their work like Digital Associations is doing. Made me feel good to be working with people who are going somewhere and that I have something to offer people what is uniquely appealing.
3) Start tweeting!
There’s so much to say on the topic, but this is enough to get you started in a way that will open your eyes to the possibilities that Twitter has to offer. It’s a terrific business tool in terms of networking with other people with similar interests, and can be an effective marketing tool once you attract a number of influential followers by saying things that are interesting while staying genuine. While some tweeters put on a persona, the people with the most quality followers are those who keep it real and put stuff out there that helps people by either motivating, informing, and occasionally even entertaining them with something funny.