My recent acquaintance with the rapidly growing and truly addictive micro blogging platform, Twitter, has presented me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I have been spending endless time tweeting and reading other people’s tweets. I am learning new things every day, such as the effective use of Hashtags on Twitter, and the various URL shortening services, some of which introduced us to a whole new method of infecting PCs around the world.
What also amazes me is that Twitter really facilitated the birth of an entire industry to support it. From the desktop clients (I have reviewed em all, and will share my conclusions with you in a later post), iPhone apps (in one word, TwitterFon), and plugins, to the stat sites, twitter design tutorials, and user analysis tools, the possibilities are endless, and I am presented with new ones every day.
As I am writing this post, I came across a new and interesting Twitter tool, a Twitter dictionary, or Twittonary. Yes, there is a whole new Twitter language, with words like Tweets, Tweeple, and Tweetaholic becoming mainstream, I really cannot get enough of Twitter.
I met a few of the people from my Twitter followers at Mobile Monday last night. I have to say it was a little strange to put a face to all the tweets. Some of my followers have already added me on Facebook after we tweeted back and forth a few times and realized we have a lot in common. I am reading new articles written about the Twitter phenomenon every day, and it seems like the interest in Twitter is only getting greater.
However, Twitter also presents me with a challenge that I have yet to overcome. I am the type of person that likes to share my experiences with others. When I am excited about something, I need to pass it on to friends and family. Whether it is via the blog, my Facebook, email, or just in person. Somehow though, I cannot do that with Twitter. As much as I love it, I cannot relay the genius behind it, to my peers. Every time I try to verbalize how revolutionary Twitter is, I always get the same few answers; “I don’t get it”, or “So basically, it’s a chat room”, or “Why is this such a big deal?”, and of course the answer I get most frequently “So they stole the idea of status updates from Facebook, and this is exciting, why?”
I have tried to pinpoint what is so amazing about it, but have had no success so far. I wrote in my last Twitter post that the ability to follow anyone and not just people you really know, is what separates it from other social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, but as cool as that is, that does not do Twitter justice. I thought maybe it was the ability to get real time news, like we saw in the famous Hudson plane crash, but that too does not seem to impress the people I speak to.
What ended up happening is that when I am trying to “sell” Twitter to someone, the conversation always ends with me saying “you just have to try it”. The below video is the closest I have come to finding an explanation that might satisfy some. So I will conclude with a request. If any of my readers can think of a good explanation of what makes Twitter so great, and what caused its numbers to increase 850% in 2008, or to explode with 20,000 new users every day, I would be greatly appreciative. Not only would your suggestions help me explain Twitter to others, it would also help me justify my strong addiction to myself.