I am active on Twitter. I post to Twitter daily. I have four different RSS feeds that add my blog content to Twitter throughout the day. I have about 400 Twitter followers and follow about that many people. I am starting to make use of Twitter clients and Twitter tools like TweetDeck. I link my Twitter account in various ways to other social networking sites that I’m on.
And yet, the fact of the matter is that I don’t love Twitter. Or maybe I do.
For the most part, I don’t enjoy Twitter. I don’t like the format that it’s in because it seems messy and complicated and overwhelming. Even with the use of Twitter clients, I don’t find Twitter to be friendly on the eyes (or the brain). I also don’t like that Twitter seems to be most effective as a tool for blog traffic if you’re following tons of people but that means that you’ve got to look at Twitter updates every few seconds because there are so many people posting all of the time.
But there’s definitely something that draws me to Twitter. It’s addictive. It’s interesting. I can see what people are thinking about all of the time. I get links to information that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. I feel connected to the world around me by virtue of the fact that we’re chatting online even though I see a level of superficiality to all of that online communication.
You know, come to think of it, my love/hate relationship with Twitter is a lot like my love/hate relationship with the city of Las Vegas. I don’t like Las Vegas much. It’s overstimulating and overwhelming and superficial in so many ways. But I go to Vegas fairly often because it’s a convenient vacation, most of what I want from a trip can be found there and the benefits of traveling there sometimes outweigh the negatives of the experience. Now if only Twitter had showgirls and slots … you know, I bet if I looked around, it might.
I wrote an article earlier today over at my Real Words blog all about how I’ve seen a recent shift in the way that my online social networking communication is taking place. In the past, I’ve had two types of connections online. First, there were my friends in real life who I chatted about normal stuff with on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. And then there were people who I know only from online who would add me to those sites just to send me links to their online work.
What I’ve noticed recently is that more and more people on these sites are truly interested in starting real conversations. The line between my real life friends and my online friends is starting to blur. People I don’t know are asking me how my day is going and responding to my general status updates. They are inviting me to meet them in the real world or at least expressing an interest in knowing what my real world is like.
At the same time, my real world friendships are getting closer as a result of staying more frequently updated with everyone’s activities online. I know that this revelation isn’t new – many people have experienced this with online social networking. But I still sense an even greater shift in this going on right now, at least in my own life, and I’m excited to see how it develops.
I’m still trying to get the hang of using Twitter. I really didn’t like the site when it first came out. However, since it was the online social networking tool that everyone was using, I realized that I needed to get on board if I was going to keep staying in touch with the people who I communicate with online. I signed up for an account and started playing around with it.
The truth is that I’m still adjusting to Twitter and I don’t know if I like it much yet. I feel like I don’t quite “get it”. I have a hard time staying on top of conversations with people on the site since updates are so frequent. But the more I use it, the more I get used to it so it gets easier to understand which makes me like it a little bit more.
One of the things that made me feel like the site had gotten easier to use was discovering TwitterFeed. Before discovering that tool, I was trying to update Twitter manually with all of my various blog posts and articles. It was time-consuming and kind of felt like a waste of time.
Now that I use TwitterFeed, the posts update automatically to Twitter. This way, I can use my time on Twitter to actually respond to people and to post updates that I actually specifically want to share with my Twitter friends.
I’m still learning the best tools for communicating on the site. I’m still playing around with when to use @Replies and when to use direct replies. But I’m getting there. Anyone who has specific tips on the use of Twitter in conjunction with blogging is more than welcome to comment here!