Everyone’s talking about it.
No, not Eastenders. Suddenly, everyone wants to know about Twitter. I’ve been asked several times recently “What is it, exactly?”, and I can only say the usual: it’s a bit like texting, but imagine your text going onto the web, and if people find your texts interesting enough or they know you personally then they will follow your texts. And you can follow other people’s texts. But just call them tweets instead.
That seems to do the trick.
This is often followed by the skeptical “What’s it for?” Essentially this is the same as asking “What is a website for?”, which in turn is like asking what is a phone for? Well, it’s for communicating. What, specifically? Well, anything, generally! Ed Lee gives some timely advice on how to decide when to use Twitter.
I think three recent events have pushed Twitter to the fore:
- Barack Obama is the number one Twitterer. Suddenly we have someone who is not ‘social media’ in the number one position for a social media platform. This tells people – nice, ordinary people, not weirdos who hang out 24/7 online – that you don’t have to be a nerd to use it, and you can actually get results (I daresay Obama’s election objective was met). It also spreads the word generally because it’s a great story – one that, if I ever wrote it, would be entitled “Yes We Can Haz”. (#2 on Twitter is Steven Fry, again, not social media although by all accounts a bit of a geek).
- Twitter was hacked. This made a lot of headlines online as, today, is news that the Dalai Lama is (sort of) on Twitter too.
- Mike Wilson tweeted immediately after surviving a plane crash (and amazingly enough you can still see the actual Tweet here) which made headlines offline. This was supplemented by one of The Guardian’s splendid centre-page photos, so suddenly we got images as well as text thrown into the mix, and images can easily become viral because they’re readily shared. It doesn’t look like The Guardian’s image spread, but I daresay if Mike had taken a photo or two, they would be all over the web by now.
Just take a look at what Google Insights shows us about Twitter: notice not only the exponential growth in searches, but some of the events listed. The majority of items are on the hacks, and political involvement with Twitter.
But you don’t have to be God (sort of), or a politician, or a luvvie. Anyone can use Twitter. So long as you use the more immersive twhirl or Tweetdeck rather than the Twitter site to interact with people, you’ll be laughing. Ha ha.