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Do you Twitter? Here’s why it’s worth it

Categories: Career, Hacking Life, The Juggle, Working? Living?

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Confession: I’ve jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. And I really like it. Maybe as much as I like Facebook.

I started doing it as a way to promote some of my freelance writing, but pretty soon I was using it as a way to keep up with a few of my friends on the fly. In spite of my crazy-hectic life, I feel like I don’t have all that much to say when a friend emails to ask “So, what have you been up to?” But with Twitter, I can fire off a status update into the ether, and read ones from my friends. It’s like staying in touch without actually, you know, touching.

I was on the fence about Twitter for months. If I tweet, who will follow? What would I call myself (WriteEditRepeat, of course!). Am I too busy to add yet another layer of social networking to mix? Would I ever check it? What kind of thing could I possibly say in 140 characters or less?

A lot, apparently.

I end up tweeting about my work, of course, but also firing off quick congratulations to friends when they post about their accomplishments. I get fodder for blog posts, and food for thought, from some of the great tweets posted by people who spend far more time on Twitter than I do. I can throw out a question and get a handful of answers within minutes, or get an opinion on a topic I’m researching, or even test the waters to figure out if there’s any interest on a subject I’m thinking about writing about. I’m leery about becoming Facebook friends with people I don’t know well — so much of Facebook is personal, what with the detailed profiles and the photos and the pointed wall postings — but on Twitter, I have no qualms about networking with all and sundry.

But what’s really fun is feeling like I’m part of a crowd with similar interests. The feedback on Twitter is instantaneous, and that makes watching a live media event — anything from Jon Stewart to a Presidential address to breaking news — more interesting, and more immediate.

Edited to add: Nataly had a great post recently about some of the perils of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and it got me thinking…

I think that the trap many people fall into is that of thinking of Twitter or Facebook as a place that belongs to them and is safe, personal, and private, when really, it’s not — anything you put up there could potentially be read by anyone else, even if you change all of your settings to “private” (you know how to copy and paste, right? Well, so does everyone else). But if you think of those social media sites as tools with specific uses, then it’s possible to be active on them without jeopardizing yourself or your career.

I think people have to figure out what they hope to get out of participating on those sites. Are you tweeting in order to collect followers/readers, or to broadcast information? Are you on Facebook to reconnect with friends and family or are you open to networking with coworkers (and, potentially, your boss?)

Do you use Twitter? What made your decide to join (or not to)?



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3 comments so far...

  • I do Twitter - as part of my job, really - I’m in social media. I like it, I’ve laughed out loud at the wit that some can cram into 140 words. I’ve learned a bit about some niche industry. But I don’t get the people who update 40 times a day - I’m a 2-a-day tweeter at best.

    Kristin D  |  March 16th, 2009 at 11:22 pm

  • I have been on Twitter for almost two years (I KNOW). I love it too, for personal and work reasons. But I know it’s a public forum so I watch what I type :)

    Angella  |  March 17th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  • Interesting article- I recently caught the Twitter bug too, and have been trying to explain to people why it’s so much better than Facebook and its status updates. You brought up some really great points- thanks!

    AlizaEss  |  March 20th, 2009 at 11:51 am

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