“Brevity is the soul of wit.” Polonius from William Shakespeare´s Hamlet
Twitter is a simple web application that asks the following question: What are you doing?
You get 140 characters to answer.
In Twitter: More Than Messaging, It Can Generate Traffic and Twitter Useless For Driving Traffic? Think Again, Neil Patel runs through the basics of Twitter and how it’s useful for search marketers.
But what about the question, which is, after all, the heart of Twitter?
I wasn’t a Twitter early adopter, so I really don´t know how people tweeted early on, but certainly amongst the people I currently follow (most of whom are in some facet of online marketing), Twitter is more often not used to answer the question, “What are you doing?” but instead to answer the question “What are you thinking?”
Below a recap of how Twitterers are really answering the question. If you’re thinking of joining the ranks of Twitter, maybe you’ll get ideas on how Twitter can best work for you.
The 4 Types of Tweets
1) What are you doing? Amongst the people I follow, these twitters are only about 5-8% of all tweeting.
… picks up phone books left at door…walks over to recycle bin…deposits phone books in recycle bin … 10:51 AM January 10, 2008 from web
2) What are you sharing? Dropping a link to something and either describing the linked content or offering the reader a reason to click the link. On the continuum between “Doing” and “Thinking,” “Sharing” falls somewhere in the middle…you think that the link will offer value to your followers, so you drop it for their benefit.
SEMpdx Searchfest Tickets On Sale: 3/10/08 Portland, OR http://tinyurl.com/2dcxzm 09:05 AM January 09, 2008 from web
3) The conversation. I’ve been on Twitter for three months and the volume of conversations amongst the people I follow has exponentially increased. Early on, most everyone I followed talked to themselves, hoping others would notice. Now, people seem to be much more comfortable @ing somebody, and more often than not, the @ is acknowledged. (To reply to someone, you place a @ before their username.) Frequently, you can reach a prominent industry person easier via Twitter than via any other medium. Twitter is a 21st century version of the 1950´s “Party Line,” where anybody with an internet connection can “listen in” and participate.
4) What are you thinking? In my Twitter neighborhood, I see many more “thinking” tweets than “doing” tweets, and I view “thinking” tweets as much more interesting and valuable to the reader. I follow many SEM Twitterers because I hope to get additional insights from them above and beyond their blogging & article writing. Also, their non-industry related thinking tweets are great in getting to know them better as individuals…people frequently mute their personality in blog posts, whereas they usually tweet in a much more uncensored manner.
Were any male babies named “Dirk” after “Boogie Nights” was released? I think that name had to be retired… 03:36 PM January 11, 2008
Why do I tweet?
I tend to have a lot of random thoughts while I´m working at the computer (most of them totally irrelevant to what I´m working on), and Twitter offers me a place to record and share them. Some use Twitter as an extension of their professional communications, while I use it to take a break from them.
It´s a real art for one person balance the personal, professional, and informational tweets. Though it might be heresy within some SEO circles to say something positive about Jason Calacanis (@JasonCalacanis) , I believe that nobody that I follow on Twitter uses the medium more effectively than he does.
Feel free to follow me @toddmintz on twitter and I´ll be glad to reciprocate.
Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon’s Search Engine Marketing Association.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.