I’ll admit it.
Three years ago I thought Twitter was a complete waste of time. I hated it and couldn’t figure out why people were wasting so much time there.
But that’s changed.
Today I think Twitter is mostly a waste of time. Despite what all the Social Media gurus are saying about it.
Don’t believe me? Check out the trending topics. As I write this, they include: #verysexy, #notsexy, and #thatssexy. As you can imagine the thousands of tweets with those hash tags range from offensive to silly. No value, in my opinion.
Also trending are #uncleleo and #lenlesser. Mr Lesser, who played Uncle Leo on Seinfeld, just passed away. Sad. Unfortunate. But not exactly useful or actionable information.
#BluCantrell is also trending, which means that tens of thousands of people are tweeting, “Why is Blu Cantrell trending?”
So like I said, Twitter is mostly a waste of time.
But I’m on Twitter. And I check it just about every day.
Here’s how I get value from Twitter:
First, as a broadcast channel. When I post to my blog, I usually add a link in my Twitter feed. Other than Google and direct type-ins, Twitter drives more traffic to this site than any other source. Occasionally someone will retweet my links, driving even more traffic (thank you!). And, from time to time, I’ll link to other stuff I find interesting, usually things to do with branding, story, and business strategy. I don’t tweet every day, and you won’t ever read about my lunch in my timeline.
If you’re interested, you can follow my Twitter feed here.
Second, I use Twitter to find interesting and useful information. I don’t follow very many feeds. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I can’t possibly keep up with the stream of information produced by so many people. Nothing personal, I just don’t have the time.
So in addition to a few friends and local news feeds, I follow authors that I admire, business thinkers who impress me, and occasionally a comedian or personality I find interesting.
When someone follows me, I’ll immediately open their twitter feed and read what they’ve posted recently. If there are lots of foursquare check-ins, tweets about their Starbucks orders, or news about the latest badge they’ve earned, I don’t follow. If their tweets are protected so I can’t see them, I don’t follow. If they don’t tweet in English, I don’t follow (I wish I read Portuguese, Italian, German, and Chinese, but I don’t—and there’s not much point in reading tweets I can’t understand).
Again, it’s nothing personal. That stuff just crowds out what I’m looking for.
But if they post interesting ideas, links to articles and information that I can learn from, I’ll follow them back because it looks like they won’t waste my time.
I don’t expect anyone to follow me (even if I follow them). But if you do, I hope my tweets are useful and not just more spam filling up your timeline.
I know that many social media experts would argue that I’m using Twitter wrong. It’s a communication medium, a way to reach out and connect. And that may be true. But the 140 character limit makes real conversation nearly impossible. Others make it work. But it doesn’t work for me.
How do you use Twitter?