I have been blogging for over 5 years and in the last year life got in the way of it. It’s not a bad thing, but it bummed me out a bit to slow down – even though a good chunk of my content (mostly from college) will undoubtedly ensure that I will never hold any public office.;-)
In the absence of time to write anything longer than a snippet, it’s not that shocking that I have gravitated to Twitter allow me to keep a window open… realistically it’s a porthole.. but I will get to that in a second.
Lately friends, family and colleagues have noticed my ubiquitous tweets (which now get auto-pushed to facebook) and have asked me about them. My usual quip has been “It’s away messages for adults” and then I send them Tony Hsieh’s blog post Twitter Beginner’s Guide– but I have realized that there is a lot more to Twitter than just the obvious social elements. A lot can be gained by embracing the cult of Twitterati.
Here are the top 7 reasons why I love Twitter in no particular order (kinda-sorta)
1) Brevity – A blog post takes time. A good blog post takes a lot of time… and if you are as long winded as I am – blog posts can end up as lengthy time consuming diatribes. Save the good blog posts for your most profound sentiments or for when you are really bored. IMO Everything else should be wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. Twitter let’s you post bite sized nuggets by limiting your urge to write to 140 characters and forcing you back to whatever else you were doing before you distracted yourself. Its concise writing by design- and laconic posts are not only forgiven, but encouraged. The opposite of what, you the reader, is currently reading.
2) A New Protocol – Twitter is a quickly emerging protocol that I would still consider to be in its infancy – or at least adolescence. That means its still the wild west and for the time being. Everyone and your mother is not on using it – which is great. While its always a blast to be one of the early adopters, the big benefit to being on Twitter right now is that the commercial signal-to-noise ratio is still relatively low. Currently Twitter is a lot of people, and a subset of companies, interacting in a 80% meaningful way. Twitter has not figured out to monetize itself, so its been that much harder for the spammers to monetize the platform. More and more companies are signing up, but aside from amassing cult followings and offering some special vip deals (i.e @zappos, @woot, @slickdeals, @revzilla ;-p) you don’t have to interface with any marketing or advertising unless you want to. Its nice now, but we will see how long the purity lasts. Most predict (and I agree) it will only get worse once it’s adopted by the mainstream.
3) Offer more of yourself – One of my favorite things to do is be a smartass. Interpret that very honest statement however you like, but sometimes it can be very conflicting depending what medium I am working in. If I want to leave a comment or an brief message somewhere online, 98% of the time I am laughing writing it while hoping eventually someone will be laughing reading it. Since my blog is the first line of defense and may as well be stapled to my resume, sometimes the posts end up a bit stiffer than I would like for professionalism’s sake. It can be hard to inject my personality and a good laugh into landing page optimization and page title keyword SEO strategy without undermining a good point. For colleagues, potential employers, industry connections and everyone else on one’s periphery, Twitter allows for a nice mix of insight, humor and smartassedness all broken into individual thoughts. A broader on-the-fly showcase of one’s personality, interests and thought processes which, for most people, spills past their professional online persona. I can comment on eCommerce trends, rip a low budget TV commercial (Aamco :-/) and let people know that I think “Voltron is rad” all in a five minute span in very disparate tweets. Everyone should enjoy being less boring more of the time. Sometimes its just as engaging to make an industry contact laugh as it is to impress them with your knowledge multi-channel marketing strategies. (and for the record, I doubled back to my previous blog posts and realized that there is somewhat of a smartass element to all of my blog posts, just not as much as my Tweets ;-p)
4) Exposure – The exposure factor ties right in with the “offering more of yourself” factor. Twitter is a great soapbox for whatever, whenever. Most people, including myself, start with a network of friends but, depending on what you share, your base network can grow pretty quickly. For a talented blogger, marketer, designer or entrepreneur for instance, Twitter is a great platform to be heard and get more acute or broad exposure to build a reputation, platform and eventually open doors. Don’t underestimate hashtags, Twitter API’s and the internal search with RSS, your Tweets can have a greater reach than you think. Dane Cook and Tila Tequila had MySpace, people with real things to say can (for the time being) have Twitter.
5) It’s RSS afflicted with ADHD (sans Ritalin) – RSS is great for precisely aggregating all of the channels of refined information that we choose to read daily, weekly or if you are like I am, when I can get some time. Now think about all of those blog posts & news blurbs and anything they touch peripherally. Set their distribution to continually and instantaneously stream, fragment the sources and interweave any other potentially useful sources into the information itself. Its RSS with its amp turned to 11. Aside from your friends, who typically offer a wide array of varied information, many special interests and media outlets are continually Tweeting random news throughout the day. In my experience a good chunk the info is comprised of factoids, maxims, great quotes and anecdotal evidence. Very interesting tid-bits which unfortunately, sometimes don’t have the oomph or the depth to become full articles or blog posts. A lot of times these nuggets are my favorites above all else. See @bimmerpost, @dailyhistory, @venturehacks, @ twittermethis, @monetate & @technorati.
6) Unrestricted Access – These days, just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t give you the right to email them. Unfortunately, in the age of relentless spam, sometimes nothing is more of a turn off than an uninvited email – regardless of its intent. Enter Twitter. At this point Twitter doesn’t suck yet. Follow your heroes, your idols, your favorite band and the business people you aspire to be like. Shoot them a direct message, or if you want to be slick @reply something witty at them based off of a Tweet they post. Your @reply shows up right on their page and depending on the enormity of their fan-base you may get an @reply and a follow back. Aside from the Philly region tech superstars (who shall be named later) which I follow, there is a great advertising / branding blogger out of Chicago who I’ve been reading for at least 4 years now. He’s got the sharp tongue of a “northeasty” but the insight of a guy who I wished I had more chances / conferences to hear speak in person. I have been following him on Twitter for a while and at some point a few months back I just fired a funny @reply at a comment he made. To my surprise he fired right back and now I have ended up with a light open dialogue that has persisted months later. Its a dialogue that for the time being is just that, a basic surface level rapport – but its access. Access I would never have gotten from an email through his blog. Those walls are built too high to keep the other 98% which are mostly spammer idiots, out. Maybe I catch a beer with the guy next time I’m in Chi-town, or maybe the conversation stays status quo. The point is that he’s the director of a major company with a hell of a lot of experience and a hell of a lot to say – and at this point if I really wanted to pick his brain, I could probably reach out and I’m 80% I would get a reply. I don’t care if you’re writing an email, a handwritten letter or using a carrier pigeon – I think its safe to say that the odds for connectivity in the more established mediums are dramatically less. And no, before you ask, it wasn’t Levar Burton (@levarburton).
7) Visibility – If I was a kid and wanted to grow up and hit like Reggie Jackson, its pretty safe to say that at some point in my baseball career I, no doubt, would have attempted to mimic that classic Mr. October swing. All “ifs” aside, I know this to be true, because at eight, I did just that. Fast forward 20 years. At this stage of the game, I am now running my own company. So naturally the “hitters” that I want to mimic today are the smart entrepreneurs which I have watched build and enjoy the fruits of their highly successful companies for a decade. I try to mimic their “swings” by researching all of the factors that made their previous companies successful, what mechanisms contributed to those factors and the thought processes which allowed for the creation and positioning of those mechanisms. As long the entrepreneur in question was not a hermit, I can usually go as far back as I want and read the droves of information which has been published about them and their companies after their typical mid-nine-figure exits. That’s great backstory, but what is more exciting to me is what those key people have their sites set on now. Imagine if fairly regularly you could have a casual conversation with any of these superstars and they could tell you what they were excited about. Could be pretty enlightening, right? Twitter enables this visibility and sometimes I am still shocked and amazed by the degree folks will share. I follow entrepreneurs, VC’s and marketers whos opinions and decision making skills I respect. I read everything that they mention even jokingly. How’s that for continuing-ed? There is a wealth of some of the most talented biz people, who you would be lucky to see speak for 20 minutes, that Tweet regularly with useful links to all of the things that are on their radar. What else do I really have to say besides Thanks for the continuing ed’ @joshk, @sbarsh, @chrisfralic, @marobella, @dbrussin, @zappos, @richardbranson, @kevinrose & @the_real_shaq (so what? if my company folds, I am learning to be a journeyman rapper from Shaq ;-P)
So there you have it, Twitter as it relates to me, the individual. I threw brevity out the window and in three and some odd hours I have weighed in on the extended “why” behind the question I have gotten most often as of late. In reality though I could have just summed this whole post up in a 140 character Tweet on Twitter….
“Twitter is really new, cool, fun & useful! I like it. Zoinks!”
For the record Twitter’s usefulness to my business(@revzilla) is a whole other post.
@anthonybucci on Twitter