Tag Archives: Oprah

How to Show The Value of Twitter In 2 Minutes or Less

2170597742_77181240ccTwitter is not a service that will appeal to everyone.  Allegedly 60% of Twitter users leave after the first month (although this doesn’t include those who switch to desktop apps like Tweetdeck).  I’d argue it’s because they only have Oprah and Ashton Kutcher showing them the ropes and need some better guidance; Twitter is intuitive to use but not to build a network or get the most value out of it.  Here are some simple steps to show someone the value of Twitter.

  1. Pick a topic the person is passionate about.
  2. Go to http://search.twitter.com and run a search on the term.
  3. Find an interesting tweet or post about the topic, and click through to the profile of the person who posted it.  If the profile looks interesting, follow that person.  Follow a few folks like this.
  4. Start a conversation, reply to one of the posts as if you had started a conversation in line at the supermarket.
  5. Look for someone sharing a useful website or blog post related to the topic, click through to the blog and consider subscribing to it.  Maybe reply to the author via comment or back on Twitter to let them know what you thought.
  6. Spend a few minutes in the conversation and see what happens.  Try again the next day.
  7. Repeat.

Within a few minutes you’ll likely get valuable content and conversation to you, relevant to a topic you are interested in.  You might even find a job listing.  I just tried this approach on 3 people – using photography, user experience and summer camp – and went 3 for 3 on “wows.”  New to Twitter? Let me know if this helps.  Twitter veteran? What else would you recommend to get someone started?

ps. Try “ball bearings” – you’ll find manufacturing suppliers, engineers, and people who like Fletch.

photo credit: 2create via Flickr

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Celebrities Are Not Taking Over Twitter

crowdsCelebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O’Neal and Britney Spears are not taking over Twitter.  A well publicized event like Oprah tweeting on her show won’t help.  Ashton vs. Larry King, in a contest to see which account, @aplusk (“a plus k”) or @cnnbrk can reach a million followers first is a publicity event that had lots of benefits for both in terms of building large networks, but they are not taking over.  Any way you slice it, their efforts are futile. They can’t take over Twitter because of one simple fact: people choose who they follow.

Twitter is a social network that allows a member to choose who to follow, and followers choose whether they follow back.  Follow who you are interested in.  Ignore spammers or folks who don’t interest you. It’s that simple.

The major benefit of all the celebrity activity around Twitter is that more people will be drawn to use the service.  For a concept that is so simple, Twitter is not the most intuitive network to navigate.  Understanding how to start and join in a conversation online is a little outside of the comfort zone of many people.  I’ve seen many people join Twitter and 6 months later they are following 10 people, no one is following back and the only post on their account is “Joined twitter, trying to figure this out.”  Take a look for yourself.

I will still contend that Twitter is not for everybody, but as more people figure out how to build their own communities on the platform, the more valuable content and discussion will be aggregated.  I like to think of the volume of content on Twitter as an unstructured Wikipedia – it’s not precisely accurate but directionally correct, and the more sources that contribute the better it gets.

Here’s an example.  I had a conversation last night with someone who had just joined twitter and had trouble convincing a friend why it is valuable.  I asked what that friend did for a living – the friend was a user experience designer, and very skeptical about Twitter.  I pulled up search.twitter.com and searched for “UX” – and immediately found UX job listings, informative blogs of well known people in the industry and a lot of people talking about user experience design.  I clicked through to a couple of twitter profiles and quickly identified the lead of user experience of AutoTrader.com.  Within a few minutes I could identify a dozen valuable resources that would help that friend in his career.

I’ve been using Twitter for nearly two years, and the community has changed and evolved.  I still keep to the core of interacting with folks who share common interests, whether it’s the Red Sox, social media or the fun of a lazy Saturday morning with the kids at home.  I’ve come to heavily rely on Tweetdeck to manage groups of friends and contacts that I don’t want to lose in the sea of “tweets,” but I am also continuing to find value by identifying interesting people who have something valuable to share.  With valuable contributors, searching Twitter has become an increasingly relevant way to get to content.  Celebrities joining twitter can only bring more interesting people to follow right along with them.

Are you using Twitter? Do you think celebrities joining is positive or negative, and has it changed how you use Twitter?  Feel free to reach out to me @adamcohen on Twitter to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.

Photo credit: Neon23 via flickr

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