What is Twitter good for?

I was discussing Twitter with Susan Cross in a forum thread over on Editor Unleashed. I'm going to expand on that discussion here.

I just tried to explain the value of Twitter to a firm Twitter-skeptic. I failed. For every example I gave of a source of information that might be of value, this person said, "I can get that information on my own, just as well and probably better, when I need it, without having to filter it out of bunch of useless crap."

This person was someone who is trying to start and build a business. I'm kind of kicking myself because I stressed Twitter's power as a means to gather and acquire useful information.

As I thought about it, I realized that more important that that was Twitter's power to provide and disseminate information.

However, as I thought about it some more, what really matters most is Twitter's power to do both through the networks and relationships it initiates and fosters.

If you're trying to build a brand, reach an audience, get hooked into "the scene" (in whatever field), social networking is not something you can simply dismiss as useless ADD-esque garbage.

Make it a one-way street inward and you become a silent lurker, drowning in the info-tsunami.

Make it a one-way street outward and you become a screaming billboard, alienating your audience with the marketroid b.s.

Make it a give and take, provide quality input and learn from the best of what you see, allow the network to develop at a reasonable pace, neither starving it nor force-feeding it, and I think Twitter can be quite useful and rewarding.

My friends and followers on Twitter are a mixed group. Some are personal friends, others are people with shared interests, others are people with whom I either have or would like to have a professional relationship. They're not all customers or clients, but I treat them with that same level respect and consideration. I think before I tweet, try not to overshare, and use correct grammar to the greatest extent that the form allows.

These hold true for anyone, not just for writers.

Don't hide your light under a bushel, but don't be a jerk, either.


  1. Excellent! You've shown the balance that is required to successfully manage Twitter, or any other social network. The sad thing is, it takes patience to build what you've laid out. Most people don't have that.

  2. Well said! I, too, had to be convinced to come to Twitter. I'm glad I did. I am learning, I am enjoying, I am "meeting" so many wonderful people!

    Slow and steady wins the race...

  3. @everyone Thanks for the comments, guys. Patience, balance, self-restraint, good manners... the Internet isn't really so different from the real world.


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