I continue to encounter a significant number of Facebook users who scoff at the idea of using Twitter. Most perceive Twitter to be a meaningless stream of inconvenient drivel–devoid of substance or personality. In a previous post (5 Reasons I Use Twitter, and You Should Too), I briefly discussed why Twitter has become a tool of choice for professional development in my career field (education). My social networking experience began with Facebook, but in this post, I would like to briefly highlight several features of Twitter that have influenced my gradually diminishing Facebook presence and a dramatically increased Twitter footprint.
1. 140 Characters (or less): Twitter makes you think about what you write, but doesn’t limit the ability to convey a coherent thought, or share pictures, links, videos, etc. The brevity of tweets allows users to filter large amounts of information in a short period of time. Blogs are the best platform for conveying substantially worded thoughts and/or arguments–not “social” networking platforms where the idea is to create a flow of information. Twitter forces brevity, but doesn’t diminish the ability to share ideas.
2. Personal, But Not Too Personal: Twitter provides glimpses of the personal interests (and quirks) of users, but it is not overly intrusive. Users choose how much, or how little, to share–giving them more control more over their personal information than afforded by other social networking platforms. That being said, active tweeters develop strong personal connections to other users with whom they share interests (look no further than #edchat discussions and how participants talk about their PLN).
3. Hashtags (#): the addition of this simple symbol allows Twitter users to participate in discussions (such as #edchat), tag tweets for reference, and search a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time. Hashtags also allow users to find others with similar interests.
4. Interact with Anyone, Follow Who You Want: Twitter does not require that you “friend” someone in order to follow, or converse with them. Through the use of hashtags and/or usernames, tweeters are able to send messages to anyone. This means that users have the ability to expand their communication network well beyond those they choose to follow. Twitter is literally a world-wide, real-time connection to those who share a profession, interests, or a hashtag.
5. No Farmville: Let’s be honest…if you use Twitter and Facebook, it is refreshing to be able to go to your Twitter stream without encountering someone asking for your help to build a barn, or feed a chicken. While I am being a bit facetious about this, I have grown to view Facebook as something I participate in “for fun” and to keep up with friends and acquaintances on a limited basis. In contrast, Twitter has become a professional tool…something I use to get and share ideas.
If you aren’t on the Twitter bandwagon, I suggest you grab a seat. Create an account, find a few people to follow, join in on the discussion and see where it takes you. If you are convinced that Twitter is not your thing and that you are better suited to Facebook…feel free to “friend” me. Just send me a tweet, and I’ll gladly accept. Tweet on!