I don’t get Twitter

It's not the blue bird of paradise, that's for sure
It’s not the blue bird of paradise, that’s for sure

Twitter lays off 8% of its workforce.

Twitter CEO is now managing TWO high profile companies.

Former Microsoft boss Steve Balmer purchased a 4% of Twitter stocks.

Surely, you’ve heard all the recent rant about Twitter and now want to give a go? Good luck with that.

You see, Twitter is a very different animal (obviously, it’s a bird) than the rest of the social media lot.

Even if you are acing it on LinkedIn or Facebook you might have serious difficulties adjusting to Twitter. But before we explain why this is the case and how to hack it, let’s elaborate a little about what Twitter is.

It is not, as previously thought, a “Micro-blogging” platform. It is not a news site. It is certainly no place to post images from your last family vacation. So what is it then?

Think of the worlds’ largest billboard, which constantly updates, and allows anyone to post anything (as long as it’s within the format boundaries). It is the best place online to receive breaking news updates, to share opinions with strangers (and taste makers) and to promote your brand. But the rules of the format make it more inaccessible than the rest, so you need to learn how to work before you start seeing some result. Here are some of the unique difficulties posed by Twitter:

  1. Infinite, fast moving feed- that really the crux of Twitter- it isn’t static like the other networks. It and ever moving river of updates, with no way to pause and look around. This means that your precious twit is quickly pushed down the chain and will not be read unless someone has specifically looked for it or scrolled all the way down.
  2. Limited real-estate: 140 to rule them all. Wait, that’s 140 characters is don’t count your username (thank your parents if they were kind enough to give you a short name), and even less if you paste a link or share an image (but hey, Your bio is can have up to 160 characters, and they have now lifted this restriction for messages!). that’s way less than any other platform, and require serious adjustments
  3. Following is not a 2 way street- Twitter allows you to follow anyone, but that does not mean they follow you back (sort of like the difference between “connection” and “follower” on LinkedIn. Hence you will follow many prominent people, yet only few of them will bother following you back.
  4. Limited network growth- Twitter allows you to twit only to people you know. Period. So if your network is small you will only be seen by very few people. The solution to enlarging the network is simple- follow more people, some of the will follow back and your network will grow. But there’s a mean catch- Twitter allows you to follow around 2,000 people, and after that it permits only a certain ratio between followers/ following. So you spot someone interested and try to follow her, only to find out your limited and have to drop some people you follow in order to clear some “following” slots.
  5. People unfollow- when you unfollow someone, they unfollow you back. Sometimes, they will unfollow you before you unfollow them, so you are “wasting” your slot. But even if they don’t drop you to follow new people, they can drop you because they no longer find you interesting. So if you’re silent for a while, there’s a good chance your followers will decrease in numbers.
  6. Some of your followers are Bots- unlike FB or LinkedIn, Twitter is a heaven for automatic engines to increase following. You will find obscure people following you, and there’s not much you can do about it (you can block them, but what’s the point?).

But, having mastered the challenges (we’ll discuss these in the subsequent post), you can start enjoying the Benefits

  1. Teaches you to be Concise- a real life school for copy-writing, Twitter’s limited format forces you to be concise, accurate and punctual.
  2. Great place to find stories and information- nothing beats the dynamic nature of tweeter feed especially when something big is going on- it’s as close as you can get to live reports from a battleground (or a sports game).Ability to “poke” important people – I can follow Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) and tweet to him. If he ever twits me back I’ve earned an audience of 184,000 people…
  3. It can and will drive quality traffic to your site and blog (given you have enough followers)
  4. t is very easy to share content on, so if you have any type of site you only need to add “share” buttons to increase exposure via Twitter (and you don’t even have to be on it).

In my next post I will explain some simple and effective twitter hacks, which will help you to get started.

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