I’m sure you know people who refuse to accept text messaging as a viable method of communication. For those of us who do use text messaging, it’s become a beneficial, appropriate method to communicate some stuff. Not everything, but some things.
Twitter is what results when text messaging, chat rooms and social networks cross breed.
Twitter allows a user to instantly send a brief message of 140 characters out to all the people following them in their Twitter network.
These followers are people who want to hear what you have to say. They’ve chosen to follow your comments because they believe you’ll provide some level of value to their daily pursuit of happiness.
At the same time, a Twitter user can be a follower. A follower can choose to subscribe to someone else’s comments, but if they determine that a person’s contribution isn’t a good fit for any reason, they can whack ‘em.
These relationships are mutually exclusive, that is, you can follow someone who doesn’t necessarily follow you, enabling you to first build and then tap into a community while quietly listening.
So where’s the benefit?
It comes in the form of information. Bite sized tips and tidbits of information served up in the form of comments from those you follow, but the real treasure is in the links your community will provide and the places those links will take you, especially if you’re doing research and you’re following users who are contributing information pertinent to your research.
One of my Twitter communities is built around technology. Not that I really care, but I was practically getting a live feed from MacWorld yesterday through my Twitter network via the mobile phones of the people in my network. Yep, you can link this madness to your mobile phone.
This makes Twitter a powerful tool for journalists and bloggers trying to stay on top of a specific stream of news or information.
If you choose to be a vocal member of the Twitter community and provide good content mixed with your own personal touch, eventually you’ll build a following. This enables you to ask pertinent questions, float ideas and promote your work out to the community, and it’s likely your followers will pass your thoughts along through their other social networks.
Twitter has its more utilitarian benefits as well.
Are you looking for a Thai restaurant, a reasonably clean public bathroom or a deep sports massage in a strange town? Ask your Twitter network. It’s almost certain the information you need is in your network or a level away and will be delivered back to you in minutes if not seconds.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about questions you should ask yourself as you build your Twitter network, how many Twitter networks you need and where Twitter fits in your overall online social networking strategy.
Then we’ll step through building your first Twitter network.