Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My take on Twitter

There's been a lot of discussion lately (around our offices anyways) about the pros and cons of Twitter. Personally, I've just recently "come back" to Twitter after giving up on it 6 months ago or so. Why did I give up on it, and why am I more convinced about it today?
When I first joined Twitter most of the posts seemed to be in the "what I had for breakfast" kind of category. Fascinating to some perhaps, but not me. That also meant that I felt like I didn't have a lot to say, mostly because I didn't really think it would be that interesting for someone to read about my dining habits. So I gave up on Twitter.

Then a few weeks ago I kept reading the "buzz" about Twitter and found myself wondering, "has it really changed, or is it still mostly updates that are of no interest to me?". So I started poking around, following some people, seeing what kind of things were being mentioned, and found that overall, there HAS been a change (for the most part) in the Twittersphere (or whatever the cool kids are calling it).

Now instead of worrying about always having something to say, I post when I come across something that I think my followers (what a weird thing that is to say: "my followers") would find useful. I've started posting a short photography quote of the day (PQOTD), and links to cool web sites, contests, etc. Yes, some of it is self-serving (such as my upcoming seminars etc) but much of it - at least I hope - is follower-serving.

I follow a lot of blogs and read lots of forum posts, and yet through Twitter I found out about some great photographers, contests, workshops and other goodies that I wouldn't have known about.

Here's my thoughts on Twitter:

1. I post updates only after I ask myself, is this interesting or useful?
2. I don't feel compelled to post every hour on the hour - nor should anyone else.
3. I don't RT (re-tweet or forward for those newbies like me) haphazardly. If it's interesting or useful, I will RT (see number 1)
4. I follow people who have interesting and useful things to say
5. I de-follow (?) people who post waaaay too much about their personal lives, or who post waaaaay too often
(important note about number 5: IMHO, no matter how interesting the posts might be, there's a limit to how many tmes I want to see the same person post in a one hour period. There is such a thing as overkill)

I think that Twitter is becoming an important business tool, where people/companies can quickly get the word out about new products, contests, specials, sales, as so on. Many photographers are taking advantage of Twitter to link to their latest images or to spread the word about an upcoming event. To that I say, awesome! Keep it up.

To the people who decide to continue to Tweet mostly about their meals, airport woes, change in hair color, etc - personally, I will de-follow you (I really do have to learn more about the Twitter lingo, so I can be one of the cool kids). Please don't take it personally, but that's just not interesting to me. (Imagine that Twitter posts were phone calls that you had to answer just to hear "Hey, just wanted to let you know where I had dinner..." Wouldn't that drive you crazy?)

So if you're one of those Twittering folks (or if you decide to try it), please do me the honor of following me. I can't promise that I'll follow you, but who knows ;)


NAPP_News said...

Great post Dave!
I like to joke on my personal Twitter account that Twitter should change its tagline on April Fool's Day from "What are you doing?" to "What are you having for lunch?" ;D

Couple suggestions: I understand your take on "noisy" Tweeps but the bottom line is that everyone's personal timeline is different. Since I follow a lot of people, a "noisy" person's tweets get broken up a lot more and are actually pretty easy to ignore. For me personally, I wouldn't find half as much cool stuff as I do online if it weren't for the fact that I follow so many people. I suggest you install and use TweetDeck. It's the easiest way to to track what's important to you (you can set up search terms and groups) For example, I have a group set up for all our #PSW instructors so I never miss a single Tweet from them.

Second, if you want to catch up on all the "cool" terms or just learn a few tricks or two, be sure to check out the feature article I wrote in our upcoming issue of Layers Magazine. I did my best to help folks get the most they can out of Twitter. =)

PS - Don't be mistaken though, you "give good tweet" and I'll RT you anytime! =)

Loopsta said...

I agree with you on this, the noise from some posters is pretty much like an unsolicited phone call.

By nature i am an idle person, so some of the blog updates i find useful as tweets, saves me going to look for updates and i can choose whats interesting more concisely.

People who feel the need to tweet every move should maybe stick to facebook/myspace.

Howard Gebeaux said...

I hate to disagree with your view, but I have to. Twitter has a specific, stated, purpose. It isn't meant to be more than that. I don't understand why you want to make it what it is not, make it into something more meaningful, bigger. Seems to me that's the problem with a lot today - something simple is turned into something complicated. Twitter wasn't meant to be advertising - it has turned into that. Twitter wasn't meant to be a collection of Photoshop Tutes - it has turned into that. And so on. It has a simple purpose, one that, apparently, you don't like. And that's find. That just means Twitter is not for you. What you say you want to do fits your blog better. Don't you think?

Dave Cross said...

Howard, I have to disagree with your disagreement :)
That's why I titled this post "MY take on Twitter", 'cuz I was giving my opinion on how I like to use it.

As far as Twitter having a "a specific, stated, purpose", this is what their web site says:
"Twitter is a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time."
So if you define staying connected as telling me what you had for lunch, fair enough.
My idea of staying connected happens to be more business-focussed, so I prefer to follow people who use Twitter mostly for that sort of thing. I wouldn't say that Twitter wasn't for me - I just said that I don't plan on following people who only tell me about their latest cup of coffee.

On the About Twitter page they say:
"Simply put, Twitter is what you make of it--receive a lot of information about your friends, or just a tiny bit. It's up to them."
Exactly - I happen to like to use it to stay informed about things other than eating habits and travel woes.
But that's just me :)

I'll continue to use Twitter and my blog to try to keep people informed.