Do You "Get" Twitter? If So, Tweet Larry

Generic image of Twitter logo. AP Graphics Bank

Like millions of other people, I'm on Twitter. I'm not glued to it all day, but I try to check in at least once or twice daily to catch up on what others are saying and tell anyone who cares to "follow" me what's on my mind at the moment. Unlike some, I don't use it to signal my every move.

But my "tweets" have ranged in significance from my thoughts on a major issue of the day to "going to bed now," all in 140 characters or less as dictated by Twitter's technology. I also use Twitter to update my followers on my latest articles and blog posts. Indeed, a link to this article will find its way to anyone who happens to follow me here.

As a Twitter user I'm in good company. Nielsen Online reported last week that "unique visitors to Twitter increased 1,382 percent year over year, from about 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to about 7 million in February 2009, making it the fastest-growing site in the member communities category for the month."

The survey also found that the largest age group of people on Twitter is 35 to 49 and that "the majority of people visit Twitter.com while at work." In a recession, it's fair to wonder if Twitter is costing employers billions of dollars in lost productivity.

But despite the fact that I've been "tweeting" for several months and consider myself relatively hip to the tech scene and culture, I have to admit there is something about Twitter that I don't fully "get."

I thought (and blogged) about Twitter last week when I read a transcript of a "twitterview" between George Stephanopoulos of ABC News and Sen. John McCain. In the interview, Stephanopoulos asked McCain a series of questions--all in 140 characters or less--which McCain answered with equal brevity.

Now I read that Salesforce.com plans to launch CRM for Twitter to allow its clients to monitor Twitter messages about their company and that BusinessWeek is syncing comments from its Business Exchange social-networking service directly to Twitter.

It seems as if the entire world is jumping on the Twitter bandwagon. Clearly, it has appeal to millions of people and it must appeal to me. I find myself drawn to it not only to avoid missing news from those I follow but also to be sure I remain relevant in this ever-changing media environment.

That said, I'm still questioning how Twitter adds value over other media. Radio added sound to news reporting, TV added pictures to radio, and the Web added timeliness, frequency, and depth to all of the above. But when it comes to the depth of the messages it can deliver, does Twitter really add anything other than the ability for people to grab messages and respond in kind?

Maybe the reason I don't "get" Twitter is that I'm thinking about it as a medium rather than a means for people who know each other to chat among themselves. Of course, that doesn't explain why Stephanopoulos and McCain along with Saleforce.com, Business Week, and plenty others businesses, media companies, and politicians find Twitter to be worth their time.

Have a thought on this? Comment here, but why not also send it to me, naturally, via Twitter at @larrymagid. I may be quizzical but I'm covering my bets.
  • CBSNews

Comments