I just did a survey of the 20 people in this coffeeshop. 19/20 looked up from their laptops and said a hammer was a useful tool. (One said “leave me alone.”) 3/20 or 15% had used Twitter, and two of them thought it was a useful tool. Then I got back to my keyboard and found that “leave me alone” guy had tweeted “who is this idiot asking people about hammers in the coffee shop?”
Here’s the mathy part: if every Twitter user were Sybil with 16 different personalities and 16 different opinions about how to use Twitter, we haven’t come close to explaining 68MM hits.
Of the posts out there, some are useful. If you’ve never used Twitter (or if this blog post is incomprehensible to you), Cnet’s newbie guide is helpful. Amber Naslund’s Social Media Starter Kit post on Twitter goes deeper and is more business-oriented. Lots of other good ones – what are your favorites?
“How to use Twitter”, beyond the basics of signing up and tweeting, is a lousy question. Many of the “how to use a hammer” results are useless if your goals is pulling nails with a clawhammer, sinking finishing nails, or advanced ballpeenery. The real question is “how to use Twitter for ___”. You fill in the blank.
I saw this in action this week when @sw_headgeek mentioned that he was having trouble keeping up with his Twitter stream. I asked what client he was using – it was twhirl. That’s a fine client if you’re using Twitter as I do, as ambient text radio with the occasional @ conversation or dm exchange. But the geek needs to track a few different groups: key influencers in his industry, friends and internal collaborators, @ replies and dm’s, and everybody else. So now he’s giving tweetdeck a try.
Will it be better? Probably – because we’ve considered his purpose before giving an answer. “X is the BEST Twitter tool” is fundamentalism.
Many “this is how you should use Twitter” posts (including the current hot topic, auto-dm’s) amount to fundamentalism also. Me, I don’t get upset if someone auto-dm’s me. I might unfollow if the dm amounts to “welcome, click my junk”, though.
We don’t need a new etiquette (twitiquette) rulebook, we just need to remember that “social” is the important word in social media. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be nice. Listen, don’t just talk. And when people break those basic social rules, karma will take care of it. The profiles on Twitter spammers say it all – “following 1,363, 75 followers?”
photo by Kyle May