Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why I Use Twitter

I was in college when Twitter first started to gain traction, and after browsing through series of self-absorbed celebrity Tweets riddled with typos and offering nothing more than another forum for shameless self-promotion, I tuned out. I didn’t find purpose in what I deemed an “aggregator of Facebook status updates.” But a little over a year ago, I broke my Twitter boycott and created a Twitter handle.

My shift was the result of a fortuitous meeting with a Twitter employee while promoting a fundraiser I was chairing. After expressing my disdain for his product, we waged an agreement: he’d purchase two tickets to support my event, and I’d create a Twitter handle and actively engage in using it for three weeks. At first, I used Twitter in the name of charity, but I quickly found that my early perception of its purpose and potential were quite wrong.

As I began to better understand Twitter, my addiction grew. But, just as I’d incorrectly dismissed this tool, many others initially would scowl when I’d admit my use, assuming I’d fallen in with the likes of the Kardashians who mercilessly pollute Twitter with pointless commentary or trivial rants. But, in defense of my new-found preferred medium, I’ve carved out the key arguments for why I’m now an advocate.

Career Development I’m a PR pro, and a considerable part of my day is spent pitching ideas and information in the most concise, approachable and interesting way. Because of the character limits on Twitter, it serves as practice in finding better ways to say more – with less. (Thomas Jefferson would be so proud!) And despite a small number of followers (less than 175 as I write this), I can see when my Tweets are successful based on the number of responses and retweets.

Networking I found my job through a combination of Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter is essentially an open forum for networking regardless of time zone or geographic location. When job hunting, I consulted the LinkedIn profiles of leaders at companies that interested me, located corresponding Twitter handles and started a conversation. Effectively using Twitter (and Social Media) is a great tactic for getting your foot in the door and resume on top of the stack – especially when job hunting from a distance.

Current Events Journalistic style is no coincidence. Humans have incredibly short attention spans, and coupled with busy schedules, it’s rare that anyone has time to fully read an entire newspaper let alone article. Twitter takes the pyramid style one step further and provides a stream of “headlines+” that I select based on my interests. I can customize the news streams I receive and am able to quickly scan through the Tweets and pick up on growing trends and breaking stories. And, if I want more, I’m always able to follow the provided link to get more details.

Dreams While it’s not something I’ve personally had experience with (and it’s unlikely I’ll achieve this until I can successful augment my Klout score), but for PR pro Peter Shankman, sometimes wishes are granted a la Twitter.

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