To Twitter or Not to Twitter…

This is the question on many people’s minds. You’ve finally just figured out how to post a profile on Facebook and now you hear FB is practically old school, because Twitter is the latest and greatest thing. How the heck do you keep up with technology?

First just admit you’ll probably always be one step behind, so give yourself a break because you’re not really missing out on that much. Certainly nothing worth stressing over.

Is Twitter for everyone? It’s actually redundant for a good many folks. I’ve had my Twitter account @katturner for nearly a year, but didn’t start using it much till a few months ago. That’s how long it took me to find a real reason to use this particular social networking tool.

Ashton Kutcher Twitter Pic

My twitterbud @aplusk (aka Ashton Kutcher) was the first celebrity to have a million followers a couple weeks ago, but, now has nearly twice that number 1,911,274. Coming in a close second is @TheEllenShow (aka Ellen Degeneres) who has 1,643,132 followers.

@GStephanopoulos (ABC’s George Stephanopoulos) has a respectable 627,945 while my other news twitterbuddie @andersoncooper (CNN’s AC 360) has a measly 210,006. Their numbers may not be as impressive as Ashton and Ellen, but I find their tweets much more relevant because they’re generally talking about something newsworthy as opposed to personal.

Anderson CooperBut is Twitter about to bite the hand that feeds it? The celebrities who brought so much attention to this gig may be the ones to bring it down as well. Ashton recently tweeted about the rumor of a new Twitter reality show, “Wow I hope this isn’t true. I really don’t like being sold out. May have to take a twitter hiatus” http://bit.ly/155I15. He sent another tweet saying, “It’s all fun and games till someone gets stalked”. That lead Anderson Cooper to tweet a link to this breaking news blog post.

Which brings me back to my original question, to Twitter or not to Twitter…

When a friend recently updated his status on Facebook with the question, “If someone has enough spare time on their hands to Twitter, is their life meaningful enough for me to care about”?  I was reprimanded for admitting I primarily use Twitter to let people know when I’m posting something new on my blog.  A well intentioned third party replied, “You would get more people to your blog if you also engaged in their lives as well”.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but if someone is using Twitter as a way to engage in folks lives, I think they’re missing the point.  Keep in mind each tweet can only be 140 characters long.  That’s 20 less than Verizon allows me for texts from my cell phone.

He went on to say, “Twitter is way more effective if you come across as a real person. If you’re using it to network, post fun comments and links on there too. Not just when you have something to sell or a new blog post”.

I beg to differ. One reason I think Twitter can be redundant is because people post too many “fun comments” or update you every time they go to the loo (no I’m not British, it just sounded better than bathroom). Unless it’s Ashton Kutcher or Ellen DeGeneres, I think most followers would appreciate the “less is better” philosophy. In fact, sometimes tweeting too much seems kind of like the little boy who cried wolf, you don’t want people to quit paying attention.  

I do throw in a few tweets about free Redbox DVD rentals, Caribou Coffee or Punch Pizza, because knowing you’ll hear about a great deal every so often should keep my followers happy. Also put the word out there about a great Youtube discovery (so what if it’s my daughter), and I just can’t resist the occasional twitter trash talk every time the Lakers win a game in the playoffs.    

I have a couple local journalist friends @DeRushaJ and @esmemurphy who are maximizing the effectiveness of Twitter by using the network to quickly lead them to sources and ideas for stories as well as letting their networks know about upcoming tv and radio broadcasts, much like Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopoulos do on a national scale.

Ellen DeGeneres (aka @TheEllenShow) may have unwittingly inspired the idea of the Twitter celebrity stalker reality show since she tweets her fans and gives them clues that lead them to a destination where they can win prizes if they show up.

I admit, I found if I “follow” a couple key people like Ashton and Ellen, it sometimes leads their followers to my site. Call me a Twitter Ho, but the name of the game is networking and I’m up to a whopping 29 followers!

Only you can answer the question of whether Twitter is for you and what you want to use it for.  If you take the plunge the next thing you’ll need to decide is if you should interface your Twitter with your Facebook and/or blog (look to your right for my latest tweets). Then there’s the choice of whether you should install Tweetdeck or Seesmic.  When it comes to technology the choices and decisions are never-ending, but it’s not going away so finding a way to make it work for you is much better than shaking your fist at the heavens. Meanwhile, check out this post by @brento for all the FAQs that’ll help you navigate through Twitter.

All choices aside, I’m betting Ashton (aka @aplusk) is hoping his followers don’t decide to further “engage in his life” lest he should regret coming across as a “real person”.

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