Twitter’s been around for a while, but there are still some nasty myths circulating among even the Twitter elite that could be crippling your success.
Some of these myths have been around since before Ashton Kutcher and CNN brought Twitter to the mainstream, while others have popped up more recently. But they will all damage how effective you can be on Twitter if you buy into them, so be wary when you hear these myths being floated around the media, the water cooler, or even Twitter itself.
“Twitter is a waste of time.”
This is one of the most perpetual myths that people who aren’t on Twitter believe. If you’ve been on it for any amount of time, you likely already know that Twitter is a valuable tool for networking, marketing, branding and any number of other useful things. However, far too many people who have never, or barely, sent out five tweets brand Twitter as a complete waste of time.
Buying into this belief will cut you off from one of the most powerful communication channels of our day, so it’s important that you try it out and get to know how it works for yourself before writing Twitter off as a time-waster.
“140 characters is too short to say anything important.”
This is another myth often believed by those who have barely used Twitter. Condensing your thoughts into 140 characters is hard but not impossible – and the difficulty often makes a tweet more poignant than a 500 word blog post. The fact that Twitter users have to reduce, edit, and really think about what they’re tweeting doesn’t mean that Twitter is filled with inane bursts of gibberish, but rather that it contains distilled and condensed thoughts that people have spent time shaping.
If you write off Twitter because 140 characters seems arbitrary and too short for anything important to be shared, you’ll be missing out not only on some great content, but also on training your brain to be concise and to the point.
“There’s simply too much information on Twitter for it to be useful.”
Information overload is a common complaint about Twitter, and it isn’t without some degree of truth. If you look at all of the tweets every day (assuming there was even enough time in the day to do this), you’d find tweets about bands you aren’t interested in, local politics happening 500 miles away, promotional material from brands you couldn’t care less about, and, yes, many, many tweets about what strangers had for lunch.
However, a successful Twitter user will know how to pare down this information and connect only with the tweets that matter to them. For example, using a Twitter dashboard like HootSuite to organize the tweets you read or using Twitter lists effectively will help you put on blinders to the tweets that you’re not interested in and focus in on your niche or interests.
“Twitter is shallow.” and/or “Twitter users are narcissistic.”
Alright, I don’t doubt that shallow people tweet, and that their tweets themselves can often be narcissistic. But that’s not what Twitter is nor is that representative of most Twitter users. Anyone who has stuck with Twitter will have learned – often the hard way – that tweeting about their daily routine will quickly alienate their followers. Those who tweet about themselves all day offer little to nothing of value to their followers, and will quickly die out on Twitter.
The most successful Twitter users tweet tips, questions, interesting links and other things that benefit their audience, not themselves. The myth that all Twitter users are narcissistic is simply untrue, because those who are usually don’t last long.
“There is a right way to use Twitter.”
There is no one right way to use Twitter… but there certainly are some wrong ways. Twitter is as diverse as the millions of people sending tweets every day. If some guru tells you that you have to use Twitter a certain way, they’re probably either pretending to know more about Twitter than they actually do, or they’re more interested in boosting their reputation than helping you. Using Twitter to spam, trick people into clicking nefarious links, and for any black hat purposes are all wrong, but there are an infinite number of “right” ways you can use Twitter if you just get a little creative with it.
As a business, you can brand yourself; as a book-lover you can hear from your favorite authors; as a freelance writer you can find jobs and network with other writers. How you use Twitter is up to you.