Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Twitter Experiment: Wrap-Up

Better late than never, I want to give a little wrap up on my experience with Twitter so far. After ten days on Twitter, I've gotten over my early frustrations and chilled out a bit. As I said, the big stressor for me was just the sheer busy-ness and buzzy-ness of it all. I felt like I was in a big convention hall where I was expected to be chatty and engaging and cool--and those situations drive me insane!

After chilling out, though, I realized something that gives Twitter an advantage over the Introvert's Nightmare: in this "convention hall," you can become invisible whenever you have nothing interesting to say. Even if I'm silent for a whole day, there's no auto-tweet going out saying "hey! look at Jessica! she's awkward and nervous and needs to get her a$$ into Toastmasters ASAP!"

I separated my Twitter and Facebook after just a couple days (even though their integration had been one of my incentives for starting!) because I like having my Facebook status just be little slices of life, while Twitter is best for sharing articles and recommending resources, etc. Now that I don't have to worry about inadvertantly updating my Facebook status with every random tweet, I've been able to enjoy the medium for what it is a little more. I've found my tweets generally fall into one of three categories:
  • Work-related updates. This was the main reason I joined anyway--to generate interest for Circuit Rider and books I'm working on. I love my work and it's fun to share news like "#wasabigospel just arrived from the printer!" or "great line from @erikrees' upcoming book..."
  • Links to articles, blogs, and websites that are interesting (re-tweeting or original). This includes linking to my own blog posts occasionally. I linked to two posts in tweets last week, and Google analytics shows those each got a few direct hits (fewer than ten each, but with only 60-something followers at the time, that's not a terrible percentage).
  • Facebook-style updates with random commentary about Kate or other stuff. This was my most common type of tweet over the weekend, when work was out of sight and out of mind.

I have 70 followers, and am following 146 people now: authors, churches, news feeds, bloggers I like, and other cool people.

Final verdict: I'll keep it up at a moderate pace. I may download Tweetdeck, since that is purported to be the best way to use Twitter.* I'd recommend getting on board if professional networking is important to you, if you like blogs (not just anonymously reading them, but interacting with people through them), and/or if the Internet has warped your mind to the point that you prefer to communicate in tiny soundbites.

*Jay Baer, on the social media consulting site Convince and Convert, comments on how ridiculous it is that all these non-Twitter sites have popped up to help you use Twitter better. If you were interested enough in this post to read to this point, go ahead and read Jay's post: "Why Twitter Needs Its Bottom Spanked." Jay says the same thing I did about signing up for Twitter--the site just dumps you out with very little guidance for how to get started. If I hadn't been familiar with the concept and lingo already, I might really have been lost. It helped me find people in my gmail address book who were on Twitter, but otherwise I had to figure out how to find people and set up my profile just by exploring the site. Fortunately, I'm comfortable enough on the web to just do that, but some other late-adopters aren't. I was teasing my mom earlier today that when she's online, she's like a man in the shampoo aisle of a grocery store: she can't find the link she's looking for unless it is right in her line of vision, with big blinking arrows pointing it out. (just teasing, Mom. I love you.)

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