One of my cyber-pals has decided to take the leap and enter the "Twitterverse." It was not all that long ago that I threw caution to the wind and dove in myself. I was asked if there was any advice I could offer to help make some sense out of what - to the casual observer - might appear to be nothing but one more enormous "Time-Suck" coming at you from the interwebs.
Obviously Twitter is what you make of it. I am sure there are as many takes on how to best utilize the service as there are those involved with its usage. Here is my philosophy on why I am on Twitter and what I hope to possibly get out of it.
First of all I think it is important to ask yourself why are you there before you get too deep into your exploration of the Twitterverse; much like a trained undersea explorer, you are well advised to plan your dive and dive your plan, lest you find yourself without the air to safely return to the surface.
It is very obvious that - to many - Twitter is a numbers game. The more followers you have the better indication that you might be winning. I am sure this is true if your main goal in Tweeting is measurable statistics related to advertising views. There are likely countless theories as to how to get your numbers up but this aspect of Twitter holds very little interest for me since I really have nothing to sell.
Besides those out there because they obviously (or covertly) have something to sell, are those that have something to say. You can argue that many of those are there to "sell" an idea or philosophy - those I would categorize in the "Advertisers" ranks. A great many folks have interests within a narrowly defined subject or topic and gain followers by their apparent mastery or expertise in their chosen field.
A lot of Tweeters you come across are simply "hams" that have decided that the minutia of their existence may be of interest to both of their true followers and tend to use the service as an old-school bulletin board where anything or everything may be discussed.
Click on image to
go to their feed page.
Now I bill myself as a "cyber explorer of the web less traveled" and as such I try to conscientiously avoid any user with astronomical numbers. I have many varied interests and if I chose to follow all the leading experts in all those varied fields I would certainly find myself on the cutting edge of societal evolution but that is not necessarily where I want to be. Let's face it, from where I stand the minutia of the space program can be every bit as boring as what Billy Joe Bob has in the smoke house. I have found it much more advantageous therefore to find an avid follower of @NASA (for example) and trust that if there was anything truly interesting going on, the NASA enthusiast will re-tweet NASA news thereby squelching much of the noise coming out of that sector of the Twitterverse.
Finding the "right" folks to follow is a bit of a hit or miss proposition but you are advised to review the users posting habits before signing up as a follower. Many people will seemingly re-tweet nearly everything in their feed in an obvious effort to get their name "out there" so if you'd like a taste of what it must be like to follow 20K Tweeters follow a few of these full-time re-tweeters for awhile this might help you determine your preferred "pace" of involvement. Keep in mind that even the compulsive re-tweeter is performing a service to you by filtering a sea of information into a possibly manageable flow.
If I find myself following someone that is a bit too "active" I will see who among their followers might be more my speed and opt to follow them instead trusting that if "motor-mouth" has anything really interesting to say it will be re-tweeted by the replacement.
I guess for me it boils down to this: I am not looking to "know it all" I am much more interested in discovering the rare and precious human interactions that may be found when practicing a cautious, measured approach to internet explorations. I tend to think of my cyber-friends as friends indeed - not statistical rungs on a ladder to the next level. But that's just me.
*apologies to 'Floyd