What is Twitter?


Sometimes the only way to learn something new is to try it. That is the approach I chose with Twitter. Here is the story.

I opened an account in April 2007 (not an early adopter) and abandoned it out of shear ignorance. After meeting my Twitter evangelist friends Chris Brogan and Laura Finton in September I decided to give it a try.

Chris sent a message on Twitter, called a tweet, to let the folks know that he had met me and I was worth following. I had 20 Twitterers following me in about an hour.

Explain Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging social media tool.

You can send a message out that is a maximum of 144 characters.

It will be sent to anyone that chooses to “follow you.

How I started

I opened a free account. While out in real life I meet some Tweeters, by accident.

I visited them on Twitter, read their profile page and clicked the “Follow” button. From then on I see all of their Tweets. Most are quite judicious in their tweeting, so it is not overwhelming at this point.

Now, every time they send a Tweet (yeah, a message through Twitter) I see the message.

“Following” is voluntary. So, is following no longer.

When you follow someone, they will often follow you. It is a sort of courtesy, but not automatic.

There are a few metrics associated with each account.

  • How many follow you
  • How many you follow
  • Number of tweets
  • Direct messages.

I ran across one account that showed over 7,000 for the follow and following stat. Yikes.

In addition to sending message to everyone that follows you, you can send a message to one person by adding a “@” before their Twitter name. Then the message goes specifically to them.

Laura answered a handful of questions in the first few days. This combined with observing how others were using Twitter left me feeling relieved. Thanks Laura.

A Huge Laugh

The first Tweet that I ever sent, back in April, was short and sweet indicating that I was adding memory to a slow computer.

The first Tweet that I received was Laura saying that she was laughing her “head” off at the five months intervening and agreeing that the computer surely was slow. Five months slow. She included a nice welcome to Twitter as well.

I was laughing, which really endeared me to the potential of Twitter.

So What is the Verdict?

The jury is still out. What has impressed me?

  1. Received two referrals for potential clients
  2. There are many Tweets about local social media events in the Boston area
  3. Discovered some useful resources – people and web sites
  4. Provided needed information requested by a Twitterer
  5. Received updates during events that I could not attend
  6. Discovered a few locals that I look forward to meeting in person
  7. Opened my eyes to micro-blogging
  8. The need for a Crackberry became obvious for mobile Twittering. Mobile’s half the fun.
  9. Twitter as a source of immediate assistance grows as you have more “followers”. Lost in New York?
  10. Early Twitter adopters are professionally tech focused and evangelistic

I think the benefit is really dependent on who you follow and what you are looking for. I appreciated real time updates from an event I could not attend.  Chris described being lost in NY and getting directions immediately via Twitter.

How do you use Twitter?

Happy Twittering from fairminder!

3 thoughts on “What is Twitter?”

  1. 4. Provided needed information requested by a twitterer

    Yup, and I appreciate the help 🙂

    You missed:

    11. Convinced Twitterers to come read my blog 🙂

    I think you’re right about Twitter providing different things to people dependant on what they’re looking for.

    One of the things I like about Twitter is the ability to surround myself with both smart and generous people.

    A quote I always liked goes something like this (and while I should remember who said it, I don’t – possibly Einstein!?): “You are the sum equivalent of your 10 closest associates”

    I think that Social Media increases the number dramaticaly & Twitter allows us to be selective on who’s influencing us 🙂


    Michael Valiant

    P.S. If you are interested in some of my extended thoughts on twiter, you can read my blog post here:

  2. Michael,

    Thanks for visiting the neighborhood. I read your blog post and found some valuable insights as well as additional facts that make me want to edit my post (again).

  3. Jim- Killer point, insofar as you’ve shown me how it might look to use Twitter from another perspective. I like that you gave it a shake, and that you’ve found some value in it. Gives me hope that I’m not lying to people when I say it’s useful. : )

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