Twitter has significantly changed how I communicate online. Though I registered in 2007, after having tried out Jaiku, I didn’t really adopt micro-blogging until mid 2008. This past year I made around 5,000 Tweets or about 13 a day.
Twitter’s constraint of 140 characters is its greatest asset. You can only get one thought or comment out at a time. Once you get used to the medium, it’s much easier than trying to write a blog post, which of course is easier than writing a feature article, let alone a book. In some ways, it’s communication for the masses, due to the low barrier to entry. As a blogger, it’s even easier to jump onto Twitter because you are used to publishing in public and you’re probably connected to a lot of people online. Charlene Croft explains how Twitter is especially good for:
Connectors are individuals who know lots of people and who use those connections to their advantage. Connectors are people who have invested in social, cultural and identity capital and who can convert those intangible resources into pretty much whatever they decide to.
Mavens are the senders and receivers of information. They are the people who always have the pulse on the good deals and breaking stories of the day. Mavens are the trendsetters and the people who you turn to to find out about this thing or that. Citizen Journalists are types of Mavens, often scooping the mainstream media in reporting “from the ground”
Salesmen are the persuaders of society. They are the people who dedicate a great deal of their lives to selling people on their ideas.
It seems that everyone is a Maven today, as @amandachapel recently tweeted that “self-proclaimed Social Media Gurus on Twitter are multiplying like rabbits”. About 16,000 people on Twitter say they are social media specialists, indicating that being a Maven in this space has some perceived value.
Connectors bring ideas and people together. One of my favourites is @valdiskrebs who is not only an expert in social network analysis (a real Maven) but makes an effort to introduce people and sends out ideas like confetti. I like to follow Connectors because they share a lot. I no longer read BoingBoing or SlashDot or several other media sources because I know that if something interesting is published, someone in my network will post it. Choosing the right mix of Mavens & Connectors to follow can increase serendipitous learning opportunities, without being overwhelmed by noise.
The truly effective Salespeople on Twitter are not selling things but building relationships. For instance, following @kanter keeps me in touch with many social and non-profit causes. Given the number of followers that Beth Kanter has (+250,000), it’s obvious she’s a Maven, Connector and a Salesperson.
Twitter has connected me to more people and ideas than several years of blogging could possibly do. My blog still has immense value as part of my personal knowledge mastery process, but Twitter has a greater reach to more, and more varied, communities. For example:
I can talk in public about things that would not go on my blog, either because they are off-topic or I don’t have time for a full blog post.
I learn an enormous amount from Twitter and for the past several months have summarized this with my weekly Friday’s Finds posts [due for a format change in 2010].
Twitter may not be for you and it’s probably not going to save the world, but I am certain the format of micro-blogging will be around for at least as long as blogging.