I chat with a lot of people who tell me that they don’t “get Twitter.” They often open up accounts or look at www.twitter.com, but are intimidated by how one actually talks to other people on this platform.
Initial perceptions are that one just shares random thoughts about their lunch-time preferences. And while a person can certainly do that on Twitter, there is so much more that is possible.
In a recent conversation, one of my friends pushed me and asked, “What are you thinking when you engage on Twitter? Do you have a certain number of tweets where you intentionally act one way or another?”
This got me thinking about what I do on Twitter. And while some people probably do wonder what I’m thinking when I tweet, I have learned that how one communicates speaks volumes about who they are both online and in the real world.
People that I find fun to engage with usually share a balanced mix of the following on Twitter:
- What they are doing in their lives personally
- What they are doing in their profession (this could include books they are reading, conferences they are enjoying, news about trends in one’s profession or other work-related activities)
- Commentary on what they see occuring in the world around them (these illustrate opinions, beliefs and sometimes even visions for the future)
- Content they are creating on blogs or in other news venues (these tweets often include weblinks to that information)
- Talking to other people (through the use of mentions which look like @username)
- Sharing or retweeting comments that they like (when you see a RT in front of someone’s tweet, this illustrates that the information is being shared again either because it is liked or felt to be important to another audience).
These 6 ways of communicating cover the very basics of talking on Twitter. It’s not hard to choose how you prefer to engage, but each of these methods help to reveal layers of your personality and your contributions to the Twitter community.
It may seem a little crazy at first, but it truly is a powerful way to communicate in very short character bursts. And while I still hear people say “how can you communicate anything in 140 characters?,” I now believe that if you can’t summarize your comments in less than 140, you might wonder if it was worth being said at all.