Two years or so ago, I was told Twitter was the next great internet craze, and I should get an account immediately. Not one to bow to peer pressure, I waited a day, and then signed up. And, like many others since, I "tweeted" once, didn't get it at all, and walked away. That was roughly 20,000 tweets ago across several different accounts, and now I think I understand Twitter and its usefulness. And I love it. Why? Well, since you asked...
1. Twitter gives me an outlet
While I can't help but shudder at some of the thoughts being tossed out there for public consumption (look, I'm sorry about your rash, but not as sorry as I am about knowing about your rash), we all have things rolling through our minds that we know the world needs to hear. Why put a message in a bottle and merely hope it gets opened, when there are millions of people out there starving for my every word?
2. Twitter gives me a network.
Never mind the few hundred followers I have; pick the right topic and broadcaster, and I can reach millions! Try this: tweet something about #OccupyWallStreet to @AlecBaldwin today, and there's a very good chance he'll retweet it. Whether you agree with his views or not, your voice has just been sent out to his network of followers. Forget that old "and they told two friends, and they told two friends" idea. Because he just told half a million friends!
3. Twitter can affect the world
Just look at the uprisings in Egypt and Libya, to name two. No, not everything on Twitter is positive. There's a lot of truly useless garbage on almost any internet site, but these are examples of little people making huge change.
4. Twitter is my sports bar
Without spending a dime on beer and wings, I can get immediate news from every sporting event I want to keep track of. And others I don't care about. From the blood-curdling wails of disappointed Cub fans, to the arrogant taunts of Patriot fans, I know when every home run, fumble, kick save, and 3-pointer happen, as soon as they happen. And I don't have to wear out my TV remote.
5. Twitter can accentuate a social life
I have connected with, and met IRL (that's "in real life" for those of you not as nerdy as I) a lot of great people, at all ends of the spectrum. From savvy business professionals, to sports experts, to media moguls, it has been a great way to network, share, and just enjoy the company of others. I even met my girlfriend on Twitter. Pretty sure she met her boyfriend on Twitter, too. How's that for networking?
Remember, this all comes only from my personal perspective. There are countless ways businesses can benefit from a properly maintained Twitter presence. (I use the word "properly' because it is tragically possible to do it wrong.) No, it's not for everyone. But I hope everyone who does use it, uses it to its fullest potential. Then again, shouldn't we do that with everything we use?