I joined Twitter a year ago today. I knew Twitter could be a fun and effective way to keep in touch with my friends and peers, but I had no idea how important Twitter would become to me over the next 12 months.
Many people don’t “get” Twitter, or they get it but still think it’s a waste of time. And they might be right. Twitter is like anything else — TV, video games, the telephone, etc. — if you let it be a waste of time, that’s what it will be. Twitter will become exactly what you make it. If you want to make Twitter into something valuable, you can. I think that’s what I’ve done over the past year. Twitter makes my life easier and makes me more productive. It adds value to my work, my hobbies, my life. Here’s how:
Twitter as News Source
I have about 300 feeds setup in Google Reader, but I find more interesting news and blog content from Twitter than anywhere. News spreads faster on Twitter, and it often comes with personal recommendations from people I trust. So, when someone like Vince Blackham tweets about a social media interview with Chris Bennett (another friend), I know it’s worth clicking and reading.
Since I do a lot of work with small business owners, it makes sense for me to follow the WSJ Small Biz and Small Biz Trends tweets.
I can get general news from the New York Times, tech news from Wired, and social media news from Mashable.
I love sports, and can get updates via Twitter on the Mariners and Seahawks. I get all my national sports news by following ESPN.
Twitter as Career/Networking Tool
I attend a lot of marketing conferences all over the country, and I always meet new people at each one. They’re great for networking, but Twitter keeps those connections open and alive. So, for example, after I moderate a session in which Google’s Peter Linsley speaks, we can follow each other on Twitter and stay in touch occasionally that way. Jeremy Rivera and I met at SMX West in February and have kept in touch since then. Ditto me and Don Campbell. Twitter helps me stay in touch with people like Mack Collier, whom I first met at the SBMU conference in Houston last year, and Todd Malicoat, who’s played a huge role in helping my career along.
Twitter as Local/Networking Tool
Cari and I write four local blogs. Her real estate business is dependent on local networking and referrals, and I try to help out with that as much as possible. I wrote a post on my HyperlocalBlogger.com blog called How to Use Twitter to Find Local Blog Content. I use sites like Tweepz, ChirpCity, and Nearby Tweets to find other Tri-Citians who are using Twitter and I make connections with them.
I can follow the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce. I can follow Megan Neer, who works for the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau and who bought a couple of my photos for their 2008 Visitor’s Guide. I can keep in touch with Craig Sutton, who invited me to speak at the Learn About Web conference he organizes and schedules “Tweet-ups” here in the Tri-Cities.
Twitter as Marketing Tool
Twitter has turned into a great way to drive traffic to web sites I care about. I occasionally use my Matt McGee account to post links to articles I’ve written on Small Business Search Marketing, and I also use the atu2 Twitter account to post links to U2 articles on atu2.com. Over the past year, Twitter has become one of the Top 7 referral sources for each site.
Twitter as Email/Phone Replacement
We could pick up the phone or send an email, but it seems like me and Eric Lander talk a lot more over Twitter than anywhere else. David Comay is a U2 fan that I’ve known for at least 12 years, but we lost contact for a while … until we re-connected on Twitter. Now we chat just like in the old days, only we don’t use email. Ditto for Tassoula Kokkoris, who works with me on @U2. We trade a lot of U2-related emails, but we talk a lot over Twitter, too. Sometimes it’s just more convenient.
Twitter as Hobby/Interest Feeder
Speaking of U2, I can follow Neil McCormick, one of my favorite journalists who often writes about U2 and has been friends with the whole band since they were schoolmates together in the 1970s. Alan Cross is a Canadian radio host/journalist who writes about U2 pretty regularly (and plenty of other bands, too). A lot of U2 fans on Twitter will send in news tips or just want to chat via the atu2 account. And lots of other U2 web sites are on Twitter, like U2log and U2tour.
It’s no secret that I love Pixar. Thanks to Twitter, I get to follow Andrew Stanton, the genius who directed Wall-E and Finding Nemo. How cool is that? And I can get updates from UpcomingPixar, one of the excellent unofficial Pixar blogs.
Twitter as Personal Service Assistant
I love DirecTV, and it was because I follow DIRECTV on Twitter that I learned about their super-cool iPhone app that lets me check TV schedules and set our home DVR from anywhere.
In my dreams, I’ll be able to travel anywhere I want, anytime I want. Until then, I live vicariously through the Travelzoo Twitter account, which sends out alerts of the latest and greatest travel deals. Someday, there’ll be one I can use….
One More Thing…
For anyone reading this who’s not on Twitter, but is thinking about giving it a try, don’t try to use the Twitter web site for conversations. You need a Twitter program to make it easier. I use Tweetie on my Mac and iPhone. Tweetdeck and Twhirl are two others that are great both on PCs and Macs.
Twitter can be whatever you want it to be. It’s a matter of connecting with the right people and accounts and making sure you’re not wasting (too much) time. If all you do is post updates about what you had for lunch, and follow people who do the same, you probably won’t enjoy Twitter nearly as much as I do.
Thanks Twitter, and thanks to the people/accounts I follow, for a great, great year. I had no idea it would be this important to me when I joined.
[…] One Year Later, Why I Love Twitter […]
Great post, Matt!! I’m shocked how low of a retention rate Twitter has (about 40%) when it can be used in any of the ways you mention above. I also love how Twitter can be used as a CRM, which we’re seeing many companies start to do now including Comcast, Dell, Ford, etc. I think whether you own a business large or small, Twitter is becoming more and more of a necessity. Again, great post…I personally agree with all of them!
Yes! Finally someone else who sees Twitter as a great news source. My top reason for using Twitter is as a n RSS-on-steroids. I suspect I am now using it more as a networking tool, but still when I think of how much more information I have access to with so much less effort to hunt it down, information is Twitter’s biggest strength.
If they could get a consistent web based tracker that rolls in to RSS, I might check it out more. For security reasons, work doesn’t allow phones, nor to install software… so daily checks for Tweets are a pointless issue.
I don’t want to spend my evening getting caught up on tweets… call me crazy.
Love the post Matt, love the sentiment.
The news is fast: I told the folks back home in Amsterdam about a plane crash there. Would’ve been the other way around. This morn it was Twitter informing me about the idiot who crashed into a crowd in the Netherlands on purpose.
It’s the great, smart & funny quotes (I fav them)
It’s working way up in Canada but shouting out to folks I like.
Less intrusive than instant messaging, less a nuisance than email, Twitter allows me to get in contact & stay in touch with a bunch of people; you included.
Oh — and it’s where a smart U2 fan pointed me to U2’s Super Bowl performance. Wow.
Thanks for all the comments, gang. Much appreciated.
Any small business looking to get rich on Twitter needs to read my wildly successful, multi-award winning ebook http://bakersdog.com/ebook
(This is sort of a joke. Check it out before you dismiss this as spam!)
Hmmmm….post a link in your Tweet then track how many people click on it.
How many do think will click?
Try it by signing on to an account at http://www.bit.ly , then shorten your URLs using bit.ly. They offer lots of statistics as to how many click, when and from where.
You will be surprised how few click on the links.
Awesome post I completely agree, Twitter is a game changer for me, it changed how I work, digest content, network and grow my websites.
[…] One Year Later, Why I Love Twitter […]
“You will be surprised how few click on the links.”
Actually, Sally, I’m always surprised by how many click on the links. I use cli.gs, not bit.ly, and it also provides stats. The last cli.gs link I used was clicked on 303 times (so far), and the last five were clicked an average of 136 times. That’s pretty darn good if you ask me. And the stats I showed above are even more evidence that Twitter can be a traffic source if you’re interested in using for that and do it correctly.
Hey Matt –
Good info – which is not surprising. 180 degrees later … 😛
[…] McGee of Small Business SEM joined Twitter a day after me and he wrote an insightful post covering uses of Twitter he prefers most in […]
This is a great post. Love all the resources. For me, Twitter was the social networking tool that made all of it come together. Having been in the Internet space for over 15 years….Twitter was the tipping point for me. I think the rule of thumb with Twitter….you get out of it what you give into it!!
Thanks for sharing this…..I am now a following fan of yours.
[…] I love Twitter, but the SEO benefits of using it are neglible … especially if your tweets are going to […]