Understanding Twitter – what’s the point?


I’m often struck by how many people don’t get the point of Twitter.  The “unsure” mainly fall into two categories.

Fledgelings:  Wannabe tweeters, who are curious and would like to know more, but don’t know whether they “belong” on Twitter.  They see it as  some cool gang they aren’t a member of, or an elite group of highly trained pre-pubescent computer geeks with specialist skills they themselves don’t possess, but which are essential to navigate the tweeting process without looking a complete moron.

Some Fledgelings get as far as setting  up a Twitter account and are watching what other people write, but haven’t dared to post a message themselves, thinking that (a) they haven’t got anything interesting to say or (b) they would like to share their thoughts, but worry they’ll prove themselves really boring or banal and no-one will follow them!

Dodos:   Twitter dissenters who  you often hear in the pub or a dinner party loudly proclaim they “don’t get Twitter” and can’t see why so many sad people are wasting their time firing off mindless rubbish to other sad people  – possibly inviting stalkers and nutters into their life into the bargain – when they should be out there living a life!   Sadly, this attitude says more about the Dodo than it does about Twitter. No social media tool can be that successful and popular without being secure, accessible and useful.  A Dodo that keeps perpetuating the same outmoded and uneducated view, probably based on a Daily Mail scare story he read when Twitter first launched, may well be in danger of looking closed minded and obsolete!

So what exactly IS Twitter?

Well firstly, lets forget all the clever software and internet technology than makes Twitter work, and get back to basics.

Twitter is simply a quick, simple and effective means of communicating with people who matter to you.

In the same way we have books, magazines and Post-It Notes in the “real world” all providing information and entertainment in different forms, but all equally valid and useful, so we have Websites, Blogs, and Twitter on the web.

Twitter is the Post-It Note of social media.

Imagine you share a big house with all your friends (and your Mum).  You all love and care about each other and are interested in what’s happening in each other’s lives.  But you work nights, so don’t often get to see your friends much. So you leave each other notes of anything interesting or important, or just to show you’re thinking of each other in your busy week.

They leave you a Post-It Note on the kitchen worktop:  “Went to the pub last night.  Missed you!”

You leave one for them “Got an interview for that job tomorrow – wearing those new shoes!”

All your friends read it, and send their own little notes of encouragement and good luck.  They all want to know how it goes.  Of course, the next night you’re note will tell them.  “Got the job! Start Monday! Major step up for me and seems like a great team. So excited!”

Now imagine that your Post-It Notes were magic.  You could write one wherever the interview was taking place and it would magically fly through the air back home and onto the kitchen wall.   Then, you’re notes would be far more interesting, immediate and fun!

“Waiting to go in. Reading this article by James Moore we went to uni with! Remember him?” and you can staple the entire article to the Post-It and send it whizzing through the air to your kitchen wall for all your friends to read.  Now that’s magic!

Well it’s not actually.  It’s Twitter.

Take a look at this great no-nonsense video explaining Twitter created by those clever people at commoncraft.com:  Twitter in Plain English





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