I know what you are thinking and I can just about picture the face you are making. I am fully aware of the image problem I may be creating for myself and I assure you that I am a little bit embarrassed to be writing this.
But please read on.
If you think Twitter is for high school kids to instantly tell their friends who they just saw holding hands with Suzie at the Cinemaplex, then you have a narrow notion of the truth. I suspect that some teens probably use it that way but there is certainly more to this story.
Let me tell you who else is on Twitter. And I mean on Twitter a lot. Journalists, bloggers, and media aggregators; that's who. They monitor the Tweet stream and find the content for their established audiences. For many of us, getting a message in front of them is a good thing.
Also, let's not forget the software bots and crawlers collecting and indexing information for people who will later be searching for it. As with live writers, getting a message in front of these digital collectors can be important for many of us.
Let me tell you what else is getting tweeted. URL's to interesting information make up the bulk of all tweets (way ahead of hand-holding updates). So what does that mean?
It means this. If you have a message that you want to spread to many people (suppose it is an article about a particular topic), the internet is a pretty good tool. However, information on the internet is increasingly buried under a lot of other information making it unlikely that your audience will ever find it. To be found, it must be recent and relevant so that search engines can find it. Know how it becomes recent and relevant? By being viewed. Know what happens when you twitter about it? It gets viewed.
I still know what you are thinking (I'm clever that way). You're thinking that tweets don't get viewed unless lots of people follow your twitter account so it could all be a big waste of time. You are right. But read on.
Here is some news for you that I was surprised to learn through real life experience at about 11pm the night before last: Twitter's millions of users have a culture of reciprocity. If you establish a Twitter account and follow someone whose tweets you find interesting, there is a good chance they will follow you back. Click on some people you want to follow and VOILA, you get a following in return.
Here's what has happened to me in the last 36 hours:
Just before midnight on Tuesday, I activated my Twitter account and tweeted the URL's from a few of the posts in my Brain Today blog (just some basic info about memory loss that I think has high educational value). I went to bed and woke up a few hours later with about 20 followers. I looked at who my followers were following and selected a few to follow myself, almost all of whom immediately followed me back.
I also decided to follow a few "big names" and by end of day yesterday, Maria Shriver and Steve Case were both following me. Granted, they follow thousands of twitterers (reciprocity) but I now enjoy the privilege of putting a message directly into their inboxes which is potentially powerful. Stay tuned while I figure out how to leverage that.
This is not for everyone but if you are trying to spread a broad message, as I am with awareness and education about advances in the Alzheimer's space, there is tremendous power in this embarrassing little, oddly named, wildly misunderstood tool.
Also, Jack Welch Tweets so it must be legit. Here is his explanation of why he does it.