Today marks the end of my first month as a Tweet-head/Twitterer, and I think I’m beginning to get a picture of the service’s big strengths and weaknesses (and how to work around them).
- Keeping up with news — Find out about stuff fast. By the time something appears on the front page of Yahoo or Google News it’s probably already been tweeted about 1 million times.
- Taking advantage of e-bargains — There’s an ecosystem on Twitter between companies and their prospective customers where the companies feed out these little tweets to their followers with ways to take advantage of discounts and giveaways, many lasting just a few minutes or hours. A lot of beauty companies are getting in on the action, and I’m seeing new spins on Twitter-only giveaways every day.
- Networking — Both personally and professionally. Twitter is like texting, only the texts go out to all of your Twitter followers. People use Twitter to get instant feedback, but you don’t have to be at the computer every second of the day. Replies are saved to your Twitter page, so you check them whenever you want.
- Sense of camaraderie — It helps me feel connected to the outside world. If you’re homebound or sick, it gives you a way to reach out to people. Even if you’re just shy and have trouble connecting with people, it gives you another means to practice your social skills.
TIP: After creating an account, follow 10-20 people, and fill out your Settings page. Choose a colorful design for your page, and upload a picture (if you have one) to appear beside all of your tweets.
- Starting with 0 followers — The one big weakness I see is for people just starting out. There really isn’t a clear path to take, and I see a lot of new Twitterers start out with 0 followers and then never use the service again. It can feel like an echo chamber at first, with people tweeting things into cyberspace like, “Is this thing on?” or “Hello?? Anyone out there?”
Right after making an account, I think it helps to immediately follow 10-20 people (even ask your friends to join with you), and it almost doesn’t matter who they are (not at first), as long as a few of them follow you back.
Twitter’s Direct Messaging feature (DM) comes in handy, too, particularly when you’re just starting out. To send a DM,
you have to be following the person you’re trying to reach, but with it you may be able to get their attention even if they aren’t following you yet.— CORRECTION: The person has to be following you (obviously, I’m still getting the hang of this feature — Thanks, PumpsAndGloss!).
- Filtering out the noise — Ironically, while it can be lonely just starting out with Twitter when you have 0 followers, things can change literally overnight. You pick up some followers and suddenly find yourself trying to carry on multiple conversations at once!
Programs like Tweetdeck can help. It’s easy to download and install (I use it), connects to Twitter.com and makes it easy to group followers into categories. I have categories for the beauty companies I follow, my friends and my freelancing contacts.
- It can be addictive — Just like instant messaging, Twitter can take up a lot of time, but the same thing goes for anything fun and useful. Everything in moderation.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,