Whether you’re a long-time power user or you just signed up this month, there are some things you probably don’t understand about Twitter. Or maybe you do, but we’re willing to bet a huge portion of your followers don’t. Here’s our take on the three things most people don’t understand about Twitter.
Twitter is not a social network
Twitter and Facebook are often spoken of in the same breath. They are both social networks, the mainstream media repeats, so they should be compared.
There is some validity in comparing the two across some dimensions, but I would argue that in fact, Twitter is an information network, not a social network. You don’t sign up for Twitter to socialize – you sign up to find information. Whether that information is breaking world news, celebrity sightings or industry insight is up to you. But Twitter is really at its most useful when information is shared, expanded upon and retweeted.
You can have social interactions on Twitter, but it is more likely than not your time on the network will be spend engaging with information rather than people. You click on links, look at photos, watch videos. And you share your thoughts on these pieces of information with your followers, who in turn engage with them and pass them on. Twitter is about human-powered information curation, not socializing.
Twitter is not one thing
Although I believe Twitter is more of an information network than a social network, there are no doubt hundreds of people who do use Twitter to socialize. And to joke. And to complain. And to market their services. And to find local deals.
Twitter isn’t only a place to find breaking news. It is a tool that has as many purposes as there are users. While many of those users will find they like Twitter best when it gives them relevant information, others will prefer to use it for another purpose.
There are people on Twitter who update their account as if they were a historical figure. And others who use it to sell their book. While Twitter’s currency may be information, human ingenuity means that this currency can purchase a wide array of experiences within the network.
Twitter is time consuming/a waste of time
Many people who are new to Twitter or who haven’t used it at all will take one look at their timeline and assume that there is simply too much information to sort through, or that even if they could sort through it there would be nothing of value in these tweets.
Twitter is so powerful because of the non-stop deluge of information being tweeted every day. Billions of tweets have been sent out, and this number can be staggering for those who don’t understand how to harness Twitter’s power.
Filtering tweets, using lists, selectively following and choosing the right times to be engaged are absolutely necessary in order to appreciate the quality of information within Twitter and not waste time with information that is irrelevant to you. Many people don’t understand that Twitter is a fully customizable experience, one which can take 10 minutes or 2 hours a day to be truly valuable – it is all dependent upon how Twitter is used.