I have a Twitter account. I’m not saying you should, but a lot of people do. Common response most people have to Twitter: “What is it?” I try and dumb it down for people, tell them it’s like Facebook stati or live blogging with 140 characters per post. There’s really no other way to explain it. If Twitter needed a slogan, I would go with “It is what it is.”
I would say there’s a fair amount of Twitter backlash out there. The consensus from laypeople is the network is too limited. They want another Facebook, another MySpace. But that’s not the point. Twitter isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’ve used this logic as an argument-ender: Twitter is for corporations, causes and anything that require promotion. You got a blog? Use Twitter! Get the word out. You work for a newspaper? Report from the scene of your story! You work for a PR firm and you’re trying to get a last-minute notice on a scheduling change? Drop a tweet!
(Yes, “tweet” is the verb Twitter uses in place of “post.” You want to say you posted something, you “tweeted.” You didn’t create a post, you created a “tweet.” I put it next to “birdie” in the world of golf for Worst Term Ever Invented. It is what it is.)
How big is Twitter? It’s showing up in pop culture. (Really, Ms. Aniston?) The sports world is getting a taste thanks to the Big Shaqtus. I know of one wise sage from my alma mater who required her Public Relations Campaigns class to start tweeting. (She tells me they did so “begrudgingly.) It’s just like early incarnations of Facebook or MySpace — no one is quite sure of all the ways it can be used. However, it’s nothing like Facebook or MySpace, and that’s what people continually fail to see. Twitter is not a traditional social network. I reiterate, it is not for everyone!
The smart folks at Twitter seem aware of common cynicism. Their About Us page really answers it all. Essentially, it comes down to personal needs. I’m looking for traffic by any means possible and I don’t want to waste a penny. Have I had increased traffic because of Twitter? Slightly. But like so many other users, I’m still trying to find ways to make it work. And if I find it’s ineffective, I’ll just get rid of it. That’s the beauty of this and any other communications service — you don’t like it, leave.