Jun 22 2009
My brother just started using Twitter while suffering from a bout of insomnia the other night. He’d heard the buzz (not least from me) and he figured he might at least see what all the fuss was about.
I’m the proud recipient of his first Direct Message: “Can’t sleep either? Not sure exactly how useful this site is but I guess I will have to see what all the rage is”.
I thought about this for a bit and got back to him that perhaps it would be good to wait out, observe, see how others use Twitter and then a possible use for Twitter might come to him. It was a lame answer, but as I’d mentioned to him earlier, how one uses Twitter seems to really depend on your unique circumstances. Still, I couldn’t think of a better answer for him.
In my own experience, Twitter has been extremely useful to me as a way of promoting things I’ve been involved with, whether it’s events I’m helping organize or articles I want more people to read. It’s useful as an amplifier for what I already want to be doing: getting my message out. Even if very few people are actually on Twitter right now, influencers on Twitter who see my links to what I’m doing may help amplify their range through email, other social networks and the mainstream media (or perhaps even by picking up a phone).
This explains why so many Tweeps are social media marketers, PR wonks, communications specialists, journalists… you get the picture. And lately, Tweetdeck has enabled me to be much more “social” on Twitter, able to actually communicate and coordinate with some of my friends and colleagues (at the expense of time I am always conscious that I could be devoting to other activities, so I still try to limit my bi-directional Twitter usage).
If you’re not promoting something, I’d say Facebook is actually a more “social” application for keeping in touch with people you actually care about. At the very least, you probably actually know all of your Facebook friends, which cannot be said of most Twitter users’ Follower lists. Arguably, email is even more social, since the vast majority of people are still actually using it. You’re not social by locking yourself into a social media silo with all of your Twitterific friends.
At the end of the day, I’m still at a bit of a loss of how to really answer my brother’s question. As far as I know, very few of his friends, colleagues or family members aside from myself are on Twitter (Since I’m the only spin doctor in the bunch, that makes sense). It’s possible he might be able to use Twitter in a professional capacity, a la the social-media savvy doctor who authored Medicine in the Age of Twitter (although I can absolutely guarantee none of my brother’s patients will be using social networks).
But even then, I just don’t know. Maybe Twitter will just be a way of keeping in touch with his brother in Vancouver?
Soon, perhaps my brothers’ friends and colleagues will get on Twitter, joining the 1.45 per cent of Canadians who are already using it (That’s right – fewer than 2 per cent of Canadians use Twitter, even with all the press it’s getting). When that happens, I think Twitter will be useful for him. But until that happens, I’m leery of inviting him to drink more of the Twitter Kool-Aid.
While I’m on the topic, this video, Twouble with Twitters cracked me up. My brother may want to watch it before jumping in.