Twy as I might, I can’t figure out what to do with Twitter.
I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of social media, but I do use Facebook, have my own website and blog, and pride myself on being an early and fairly sophisticated user of LinkedIn. I find all of these platforms useful – either professionally, personally or both. They each have their learning curves, but they aren’t so steep that they keep moderately intelligent people away.
Twitter, on the other hand, baffles me. Its content is neither relevant to my life nor useful in my work. The top Twitter trends last week – the NCAA and Justin Bieber – don’t interest me. Every time I see an article on how to use Twitter, I scan through it eagerly, hoping that I’ll find the key to make sense of this confusing world. So far, nada.
Typical tips for how newbies can get started on Twitter:
1. Share URLs. We’re already overwhelmed by stuff to read, see and hear on the Internet. Unless it’s really important, why would I want to add to that burden? And if it is really important, why would I rely on Twitter – where it will get lost in the great galaxy of tweets (except of course for those people who’ve mastered the Twitter universe and can filter out the critical news from the mundane I-just-spilled-coffee-on-my-keyboard drivel)? Having said that, I have tried to use Twitter to market myself. Each week, I dutifully tweet the URL of my blog post. Google Analytics tells me it draws very few readers. (It’ll be interesting to see the stats this post generates.)
2. Retweet information. If I don’t understand the usefulness of tweets, why would I want to retweet and just add to the cacophony?
3. Directly message friends and colleagues. I already can’t reach them by phone, e-mail, texting or IM. Now I have to add tweeting to that list of futile attempts? Sometimes I suspect it’s all a cosmic joke by the gods of the Internet, who laugh as we all run circles around each other online.
4. Search for friends and colleagues. See non-reason #3. Besides, when I try to search for people, I either come up with complete strangers (with similar names), I can’t tell which of the people listed are my friend/colleague (most don’t have photos), or I locate the right person but find they haven’t tweeted since 2009. (There’s a lot of us newbies who tweeted once or twice, then gave up.)
I’ve also tried some of the desktop clients, such as TweetDeck, which are supposed to make all those tweets manageable. I couldn’t figure out how to use them. It probably had to do with the fact that I didn’t even know what it was I was trying to manage . . .
So, why twouble myself? Give me a good reason – in 140 characters or less – why I should tweet.