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What’s your take on Twitter?


I created a Twitter account last year – I wanted to ensure I had the one for ‘JonGibbs’ if and when I needed it.

Although I haven’t yet tweeted or followed anyone [until today, that is], I can see its usefulness. The 140-character per message limit makes for short, sharp newsflashes, perfect for those ‘Just updated my blog/website’; ‘Heard the news?’; ‘Saw this great post. Here’s the link:’ kind of notices.

 From what I can tell, you follow other folks (thereby receiving all their tweets), and hopefully they follow you back – a bit like the friending system on Live Journal. If you want to, you can even sift out the ‘Just ate my bagel’ crowd from the more interesting tweeters by way of http://www.tweetdeck.com

Personally, I still haven’t decided if the benefits outweigh the effort involved. Creating the account is one thing, but keeping up with everyone’s tweets seems like a lot of additional work, but then again, I may be misunderstanding what’s expected of you on Twitter eg: Are you supposed to respond to other folk’s tweets or is it acceptable to ignore them?

With that in mind, I thought I’d conduct a little poll on the subject:
 

Poll #1522130 Twitter

Please pick the sentence which best describes your use of Twitter:

I make tweet announcements at least a few times every week.
22(40.0%)
I tweet every now and then, but usually in response to others.
3(5.5%)
I never tweet, but I follow a bunch of people.
0(0.0%)
I have an account but never use it.
8(14.5%)
I don’t have an account.
21(38.2%)

For those who do have an account, what difference has Twitter made to the amount of traffic you get at your blog/website?

It’s made a big difference.
8(22.2%)
It’s made little or no difference.
9(25.0%)
I don’t know.
19(52.8%)

For those who don’t have (or don’t use) a Twitter account, please pick the sentence which best describes why that’s the case:

I can’t see the point of Twitter.
10(34.5%)
It's of no use to me at present.
4(13.8%)
I’m happy with just using my blog/website.
11(37.9%)
I have/used to have an account, but I stopped using it (feel free to elaborate in the comments below).
3(10.3%)


Thanks in advance for taking part. 

If you have any opinions about Twitter (especially on how you think it should be used), I’d love to hear them.


ETA:  Feel free to share your Twitter name in a comment for others to follow if they wish. 


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Comments

( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
I think it looks interesting, but I don't want to have to put a lot of time into it.

Thanks for sharing :)

PS: What's your Twitter name?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 6th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
reannon
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
I look at Twitter as short-term blogging: for thoughts or jokes or links that don't deserve a full blog entry, but might be of interest to others. Unlike blogs, I don't think anyone expects you to keep up with everyone else's Twitter - it's more like a gigantic chat room, I think. I pop on and see what people are talking about right now, and I might click a friend's name to see what they've Twittered since the last time I was on, but holy crow I couldn't POSSIBLY keep up with every single Twitter. Still, I find a lot of very interesting articles and blog posts linked on Twitter.

When I update my public blog, update my web site, write my CultureGeek column etc., I post links on Twitter. This gets retweeted often and has greatly increased my readership and chatter on those sites.

Switching hats to the newspaper job, I follow all our competitors on Twitter and that has kept me ahead of them more times than not. We newsfolk all Twitter like mad, and there are several times we'd have been scooped if I hadn't been watching Twitter.

In short, it is a tool. You can use it in any way that may be useful for you, but don't let its reputation or detractors steer you away. Should it rule your life? Of course not. But then there are some who still think we shouldn't use the internet either. :D
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks, that's most helpful. What's your Twitter name?
(no subject) - reannon - Feb. 7th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
asakiyume
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
I found accessing Twitter to be a pain. Either I had to go to the Twitter site (which seems contrary to the way Twitter's supposed to work--it seems like it's supposed to be background noise to your work--but that doesn't work if you have to go there deliberately to look at it), or else I had to use a tool like Twitterific, which makes the tweets appear on my desktop... but I found that distracting.

I also ended up with a high ratio of noise to content I was interested in when I tried Twitter. In the end I deleted my original account and created a new one, with just my husband on it (the idea being that we could use it as an IM system), and one or two organizations that sometimes make announcements I might want to follow, plus one or two friends for old time's sake. But even the new account I almost never use.

I think Twitter could be fun; I think it can promote fast interaction--it's just not for me. I don't like IM, either; I don't like the feeling of being constantly on call. It's like the difference between receiving a telephone call or an e-mail. With a telephone call, you feel almost compelled to pick up the phone--and if you don't, you're deliberately ignoring it. When an e-mail comes in, you can wait, read it in a free moment, and think about what you want to say before you respond. That style works better for me.

Really, LJ is the online medium that works best [ETA: for me! not for everyone, obviously]. You can have personal interaction, but you can also follow people whom you're interested in reading without interacting. You can take your time to respond. Posts can be long or short. Et cetera.

I'm interested in what reannon says, though: I do think Twitter works for trending news items (the whole Iran election thing, etc.)

Edited at 2010-02-06 04:31 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
My biggest worry is that I'd feel compelled to answer all my friends' tweets, though that seems to be a misconception on my part. As you say, the trending news thing might be interesting.

Thanks for sharing :)
(no subject) - reannon - Feb. 7th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
jimhines
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I resisted for a long time, but finally set up an account as @jimchines. It actually did increase traffic to my blog, just by posting the "Blog update: Title" each time something goes up. Not a huge increase, but significant, particularly when I write something that gets retweeted and passed along.

I don't keep up with conversations anywhere near as much as a lot of people. I'll jump in and chat, or make smart-ass updates, but I had to give myself permission not to try to religiously read every tweet from everyone I was following. Otherwise it would make me crazy.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
'... but I had to give myself permission not to try to religiously read every tweet from everyone I was following.'

I can totally relate to that. Thanks for sharing, Jim :)
xmurphyjacobsx
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
I've experimented with Twitter for about 4-5 months now. My use goes up and down. Right now I'm using it a lot (of course, I'm also stepping up my blog use).

I use it for both my writing and for personal enjoyment. I follow people who interest me and talk to those who I like. It is upping interesting in my weblog (when I remember to announce a new post). I'm also watching how other writers use it.

It's a tool with positives and negatives. It's not a miracle tool. It can be a time eater, but it can also be very helpful. Mileage may vary.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
I can see the positives. When my 'Is your 'but' too big' post was up at Nathan Bransford's blog, it got 'retweeted' 14 times (which I assume means fourteen people tweeted about it), and I've had people tell me they've tweeted about a particular post, or FindAWritingGroup.com in the past.

It's the potential negatives (mostly the time consumption) which I'm trying to find out about the most.
(no subject) - xmurphyjacobsx - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xmurphyjacobsx - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
a_r_williams
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I've thought about using twitter, but haven't messed with it yet. I may open an account with my name just to have and I think that's a good idea.

I think it can be useful, but for me, looking at people posting their twitter comments gives me a headache.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, each to his/her own of course, but I definitely can't see myself posting my tweets on LJ.
smeddley
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
I picked the 'I make Tweet announcements', but they're not really announcements. I think I'm pretty different from a lot of the people you have on your f-list, in that my on-line life has nothing to do with my career/professional life. Okay, occasionally I complain about AutoCAD, and from that you might deduce my career (and I think the word 'engineer' is buried in there if you dig far enough).

I use it just to make offhanded 140-character comments and respond to others. I admit I skim through a LOT of the tweets on my list, as I have a lot of TV tweeters and hash-tag-game tweeters on my list.

I will not follow someone who only uses it to point out blog posts. If I want to follow your blog, I will do so via a feed (and probably already am). If you otherwise tweet and throw in blog updates, I'll overlook that, since it's not the main function.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
I agree. For me, the same goes for blogs, if all you ever do is advertize yourself and your writing, I'll soon stop reading.
mtlawson
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
I'm not interested in Twitter. With Twitter, it's too easy to shoot your mouth off without your internal censor kicking in. Let's face it, we can use a bit more civility in life, and without that internal censor invective can fly fast and furious.

The immediacy and brevity of Twitter are both its greatest strength and weakness. It can be a force for freedom of information, as demonstrated by the Iranian protest movement that sprang into existence last year. It can also be a force for inanity: just pick a celebrity who Tweets on whether they're going to get laid or go to a party, and you wonder why you bother watching.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think I'd use it sparingly. I have plenty of great LJ (and other) blogs to read, but I can definitely see Twitter's potential as a 'spreading the word quickly' tool.

Thanks for the input, Mike :)
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 6th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
karen_w_newton
Feb. 6th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
I like Twitter, not so much as a marketing myself thing (it has had only a small impact on my home page or blog traffic) but more as a finding out about stuff thing. A huge number of authors, editors, and agents tweet, and it's fun to follow their conversations. In a way, it's like crashing a party except you don't get any food or dink.

In addition, it's a good way to take the pulse of the public. When the whole Amazon/Macmillan storm broke, my Twitter list was full of indignant tweets, but the fracas never once reached high enough levels to appear on the trending topics-- which told me the general public really didn't care about ebooks or authors.

p.s. it occurred to me later, but whether or not you get any fun or enjoyment out of Twitter is largely a matter of whom you follow.

Edited at 2010-02-06 06:48 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
'...whether or not you get any fun or enjoyment out of Twitter is largely a matter of whom you follow.'

Hehe, not unlike LJ :)
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sandy_williams - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 6th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sandy_williams - Feb. 6th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 6th, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Feb. 6th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input :)

'Think before you hit submit' sounds like excellent advice, not just for Twitter, but for life in general ;)
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 6th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
tangledaxon
Feb. 6th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
Twitter is my primary social networking platform. LJ is more personal, Facebook is there so I can connect with the people who prefer it, and of course my blog is my primary professional "face" on the web.

My blog readership and Twitter followers are closely related; most of my readers come from Twitter. I've developed great writing relationships with many of my Twitter followers. I've even found a critique group through Twitter.

You asked, "Are you supposed to respond to other folk’s tweets or is it acceptable to ignore them?" There's no expectation that everyone should respond to everyone else's tweets. You can respond if you have something to say, "retweet" if you just want to say, "Hear, hear" or pass along a useful/interesting link... it's up to you.

Many people tweet constantly all day long, so it would be daunting to reply to every single tweet.

Another thing I enjoy about Twitter? Publishing professionals who tweet. Two hashtags in particular are useful: #pubtips (publishing tips) and #askagent. The latter is a chat that takes place sporadically, during which literary agents will answer questions about publishing.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
'I've even found a critique group through Twitter.'

Interesting. thanks for the input, and the hashtag recommendations :)
writertracy
Feb. 6th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
I don't usually reply to tweets unless they just jump out at me. Partially because I have my Facebook account set up so that twitter updates go straight to facebook, and replies look kind of weird there.

But I find twitter useful because I am away from my computer a lot, and Twitter is a format that was developed for smart phones such as mine.

It's easier to read twitter updates when I'm sitting in a waiting room, than it is to load up the internet and read Livejournal.

I think that Livejournal has embraced this format as well. They just released an app for my particular brand of phone that resembles twitter in that they only show you the headlines of a blog unless you want to read it. You have to double click on the blog to read the whole thing.

jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
It seems like most original tweets are signposts, as opposed to commentary, which makes more sense to me.

Thanks for sharing, Tracy :)
a_r_williams
Feb. 6th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
So, I just created a twitter account ( a_r_williams ). Who knows, I may even get around to playing with it.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for adding me to your list, Aaron. I've 'followed' you back, along with everyone else who's been kind enough to follow me :)
plattcave
Feb. 6th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
Twitter has been very valuable to me as a journalist. For one thing, I get story ideas from the people I follow. For another, it drives traffic to my articles, half of which comes directly from the people who follow me, half of which is from people searching Twitter for various keywords ("extinct," "eco," "Jackie Chan," etc.).

I mainly use it to post links to my work, but that's just me.

I've never really gotten into following conversations in Twitter, but some people can do that very well.
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks, John. I'm not sure I'll follow too many conversations on there. After all, that's what LJ's for :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Hehe, don't you just hate it when that happens? :)
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