Why I Use Twitter

If you will permit an obscure StarTrek reference, Twitter has been the self-sealing stem bolt of social media apps–it seems like it should be useful but I didn’t really know what for. Now, perhaps, I have clue. Some of this is a bit technical, but if you hang on I will try to get you through safely.

Why Twitter Is Different

Facebook, LinkedIn and other applications create networks of two-way connections: mutual friendships, trusted connections, etc. By contrast, anyone can follow you on Twitter without your permission. Posting vacation photos on Facebook for your friends makes sense; why would this interest a stranger on Twitter? Even if it does, the 140 character limit is very limiting.

You can offer an ad for a product or service, butt this doesn’t seem like a good user case to me. Even on television, the programs attract the watchers, not the ads. You can point to an article or something to entertain, but where is the payoff? If you are building a brand this may be useful, but you need a lot of content and lots of followers. You can buy followers in quantity, but that doesn’t help either.

Why Not Buy Followers

Soon after you start a campaign on Twitter, someone may offer to sell you thousands of followers quickly at a rate of pennies per follower. This may seem like a good deal, especially compared to physical mail, but it isn’t.

Twitter makes it possible to generate huge numbers of dummy accounts that nobody uses our looks at. A computer script can create thousands of accounts and have them follow you with almost no personnel time. These are not engaged followers. They are computer generated robots that do nothing except attract money for the person running them.

Before we give up on the idea entirely, let’s assume this isn’t a complete fraud. Let’s assume that there is a real person owning the handle who might have an interest in your message. In that case you have another problem–the limited life of a tweet.

I just ran a quick search on the lifespan of a tweet. In this unscientific sampling, one source estimates 18 minutes, another 24. Unless a tweet is deliberately labeled for someone, the chance they will see it is vanishingly small. Twitter policy prohibits reposting the same tweet. Even is someone follows you and reads their feed every day your tweet may well have fallen out the bottom before it was seen.

What You Can Do

So, where does Twitter fit in the scheme of things? My latest thought is as a thank you, to acknowledge someone specific in a way that does some good.

For example, imagine I got value from a podcast I listened to. I can thank the podcast host publicly, include a link to the podcast for others, and provide benefit to all. Since the tweet has the Twitter handle for the host, it greatly increases the chance it will be seen. This increases the chance of retweets, which increases their visibility and yours.

The better you curate the interest of your twitter community, the stronger and more valuable it will become.

Nothing says thank you on Twitter better than a retweet. I think there is a difference between retweeting out of some obligation or agreement and sharing a tweet you find interesting. As your list of followers grows, you are creating a community connected by a common interest. The better you curate the interest of your twitter community, the stronger and more valuable it will become.

You can find more ideas in an interview Janna Yeshanova (@JannaYeshanova)  published with Twitter expert John Sparks (@IamJohnSparks) at https://jannayeshanova.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/365-ideas-to-go-from-good-to-great-on-twitter-interview-with-john-sparks/

Jay Elkes shares ideas at jayelkes.wordpress.com and on Twitter as @jayelkes

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