So how do you explain what Twitter is to someone that’s never used it before? It’s not easy, is it? When I try to explain what Twitter is to friends and others, I try to talk about different ways that you can use the site. Here’s some examples:
Twitter as a networking tool.
One of the things that first attracted me to Twitter was that I suddenly had access to such a wide array of influencers, authors, CEOs and celebrities that I otherwise had little chance of talking to. But with Twitter, all you have to do is jump on the site and you can message them directly. Now there’s no guarantee the people you try to connect with will answer you, but some will, and who knows, a few may actually….gasp….FOLLOW you!
Also, if you attend offlink networking events or meetups, you can easily collect the Twitter names of the people you connect with, and stay in touch on Twitter. For me, the ability to use Twitter as a networking platform is the biggest benefit I get from using the site.
Twitter as a news feed.
As Twitter has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, mainstream media sources have flocked to the site. Almost every major news source on the planet has a Twitter account. This means that every one of your favorite blogs and news sites (and the ones of all your friends) likely all have Twitter account where they are posting links to their newest posts and articles. You can follow your favorite sources, and then have all of your favorite news delivered right to you via Twitter! And Twitter has become a fabulous source for breaking news, usually information is exchanged among Twitter’s users around breaking news events before it is reported by mainstream media. So if you want to stay informed and abreast of all the latest news, there’s no better way to do this than via Twitter.
Twitter as your personal search engine.
This is an advantage you’ll begin to notice after you have begun to build a network on Twitter. For example, let’s say you are taking a date to see the new action flick that’s debuting tonite in theaters. But when you arrive at the theater, you discover that it’s sold out! So now you have to pick from among 3 other movies that you know nothing about. So ask Twitter! You can tweet out a recommendation to your Twitter followers and (based on the size and responsiveness of your network) get several answers in a few minutes, if not a few seconds!
For example, a couple of years ago I was arriving in Texas to speak at an event. All I knew about my hotel was that it was at ‘the Sheraton downtown’. Now I thought there was only one Sheraton downtown, so when I got on the shuttle, the driver announced that there were TWO Sheratons downtown! Uh-oh! So I quickly tweeted out my Twitter followers that were attending the same event asking them which Sheraton the event was being held at. Within a minute I had several people tweet me which Sheraton it was. Awesome! But then someone DMed me the name and address of the Sheraton PLUS their phone number! If I had tried to use my phone to get on Google and find this exact same information, there’s no way I could have done it as quickly.
Twitter as a crowd-sourcing platform.
Twitter is a great way to get several answers to a question or opinions on a topic. In fact, a great use of Twitter as a crowd-sourcing platform is to ask your network what you should write about on your blog. Or if you know what you want to write about, use your network to give you ideas and help you flesh out the post. From a company standpoint, it’s a wonderful way to get feedback as well.
Twitter as a chat room.
When you think about it, Twitter really is very similar to a chat room. It’s just that the functionality is a bit different, not everyone can see what everyone else is saying, but everyone that’s following you can see your tweets. So add in a few more controls and you have functionality that’s similar to a chat room. And as such, that means you can use Twitter as a conversation platform, very similar to the way you use chat rooms!
So there’s some ideas on ways to incorporate the different ways you can use Twitter, to explain to others exactly what the site is. How do you explain what Twitter is to others?