Welcome back to our weekly Twitter column. While perusing an article about the state of Twitter by celebated social media pundit Brian Solis of PR 2.0 I was intrigued by a screen shot from Google Suggest where the second most popular collocation of “I don’t get …” is Twitter. I checked that and it’s true. Google suggests that as the 2nd most popular query combined with “I don’t get”. To make sure this is no coincidence I checked also for “I don’t understand” and not surprisingly “I don’t understand Twitter” appeared at #2 as well.
So it really seems that a lot of people do not understand Twitter. I can’t blame these people. It took me quite a while to get Twitter myself even at a time when the site was officially about telling the world “what are you doing”. These days Twitter is even more fuzzy. Also the people who are trying it now aren’t the super Web savvy early adopters. It’s people who don’t spend 90% of their lives staring at the screen. That’s fine. I appreciate a life style less polluted by digital media. It’s too late for me already though. I work here. I use Twitter for two and a half years by now and I think I finally get it. So in case you don’t get Twitter I can help you.
Twitter is like a huge party.*
Everybody is invited. Not just a few dozens of people, not even hundreds or thousands. Millions of people are at the party at the same time. What do you do at parties? You indulge in small talk. That’s exactly what Twitter is about. Twitter is a virtual party full of people eager to engage small talk.
The popular people, the celebrities are surounded by myriads of fans. The less popular ones but nonetheless important people are surrounded by other important people. Then there are people who are like me and you. They chat a little here, a little there. They aren’t popular just by having a famous name. They earn their popularity by how they approach others and by what they say.
So in short when you appear at the party and say hello you already have done the first step to join in the fun. Some people aren’t bold enough to speak up from the start. They prefer to just show up and listen first. That’s OK as well. Ignore the self important douche bags and just listen to the people who speak about the topics you care for. Search for the people who share your interests. Then show them what you like. They might like it as well.
You are a business person and you don’t get Twitter because time is money and you don’t want to waste neither one? You hate parties because you’d prefer to work instead? Small talk is not for you at all? Twitter is like a party in a hotel lobby. There are a lot of newspapers lying around. People talk about the news all time and point to the newspapers from time to time. They suggest stories you should read. I case you follow the right people, those who share your interests, you’ll discover the best stories around. People on Twitter try to find the best news items all the time and to share them.
You can also invite the people you address to your own shop, restaurant or office. You just tell them that you got a great story or resource for them. You might end up as business partners. Like at real parties you also might find a new job. Last but not least like minded individuals you met at the Twitter party might like you so much that they will praise you elswhere on the Web.
Do you understand Twitter now? I hope so. Now you have to decide whether you want to join the party or you prefer th stay at home and just watch TV. In case you want to understand Twitter even better come back next week. I try to help business people get Twitter at least once a week.
* Image by Tom Purves.