Benefits of Interaction on Twitter

October 11, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Twitter is a network, like virtually everything else on the Internet. Without many users Tweeting from PCs and mobile devices, it would die off as people started finding something else to do.

Comparable to a stripped-down version of the “status” on a Facebook page, the difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Twitter is more focused as a community on information sharing.

A downside of this most noble use, however, is that many newcomers to Twitter just don’t seem to get it. Many users sign up, send a Tweet (“I’m having a coffee”) and don’t then bother following it up or engaging with the community.

They don’t know how to Twitter; this is a shame, because I’ve never known such a beneficial and easy to use network in 15 years of being online. Twitter is truly one of the great things about life online – so let’s take a look at the various benefits of interaction with just 140 characters.

How to Twitter – the Basics

The Twitter newbies who sign up, describe breakfast and never return have only half “got” the network. At its core, Twitter is about sending updates – but these should be valuable updates, notifications that will help someone somewhere understand something about life, whether it is how to do something, a video clip to share, news about their favourite show or band, or just to meet up for a party.

Twitter should rarely be about the person doing the Tweeting – it should be about them supplying valid and relevant information. It goes back to the old adage:

If you have nothing to say, don’t say anything at all.

Adding Value to Twitter

I have a colleague who tried to use Twitter. He is a talented guy who does great artwork, but found that he had nothing relevant to say. Rightly, he left the network.

Sadly there are a lot of people and organizations regularly using Twitter who are at the other extreme. These people say a lot, regularly about themselves, and therefore become nothing more than corporate mouthpieces, automated PR folk hiding behind the guide of a Twitter account. While some of what they say might be relevant and shared around the Twitter network, there is a danger that too much of this kind of use will lead to Twitter becoming less of a community and more of an advertising network.

Adding value to Twitter is not only about being relevant and remaining relevant, it is also about engaging with other people, whether they follow you or not.

Interaction on Twitter

Think of Twitter as a conversation at a dinner party. One or two people begin by taking the lead, bring up a topic or subject, Tweeting about something that they suspect might be of interest to their audience (the followers on Twitter).

Like a dinner party conversation, the followers respond with a series of “wow, I didn’t know that” and various responses aimed at finding out more. They might also Retweet the fact in much the same way as someone at a party might repeat a joke they’ve received by SMS.

By Retweeting or addressing another Tweeter directly, a conversation develops, an amazing text based debate that can be carried out either on a PC, laptop or mobile device.

Getting to grips with the basic updates, Retweets and Direct Messaging options on Twitter are just the beginning. If you know how to have a conversation, you should know how to Twitter.

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