As Twitter grows in popularity, a number of my friends who have heard me talking about it have started asking me why I like Twitter so much. Although I enjoy chatting about the topic and am glad to do so anytime, I thought writing a post on it might be helpful.
Here are a few of the meaningful ways I have integrated Twitter into my life.
1) As a way to interact with and meet a diverse group of people.
I am able to do this on a scale that is impossible with other services – this comes from Twitter’s one-to-many structure (i.e. each one of my “Tweets” is seen by all of my followers). This also creates the ability to have semi-public “conversations” that others can “listen” in on or participate in.
In addition, by reaching out to new people on Twitter (primarily friends of friends) and through the new “followers” I get each day, I have access to an entirely new and diverse source of social connections.
2) As a way to get the News.
It turns out that if something is interesting, people like to talk about it with their friends. Thus, I share and receive all kinds of news through Twitter in a way like never before. The service has virtually replaced my other news services for everything but financial news (for which I primarily turn to mobile Bloomberg and blogs). In addition, Twitter usually has most news stories hours or days ahead of traditional news outlets, which keeps me ahead of the curve in terms of being in touch with the world outside of the HBS-HLS bubble.
3) As a way to keep in touch.
My mother is probably reading this blogpost and so are a number of my friends. In fact, many of you probably stumbled upon this post through Twitter. Thus, you know that I regularly post what I’m up to – ranging from relatively trivial stuff to the places I am traveling. Many of my friends on Twitter do the same, and as a result we are able to keep up to date on what is going on in each of our lives. That I can better stay in touch with my family and friends while maintaining a busy schedule is a great benefit of the service.
4) As a means of self-expression.
One of the things I have enjoyed most about blogging over these last couple of years is that it gives me the ability to express what is on my mind and share it with others. Twitter does the same but on a more real-time basis. As a result, I find myself opening up to an “audience” of friends about the way that I see the world. Of course opening up your life to a new level of transparency is daunting, but I think putting myself out there has brought more than enough good – in conversations, new friends, and insights – to make up for any discomfort that it might create.
If you are new to Twitter.
I suggest giving it a go for a month or so. Like most communities, you reap what you sow, so try to participate in whatever way feels right. There is no one “right” way to use the service. Hopefully my thoughts on it are helpful, and please let me know if you ever want to chat about it more extensively.