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What Is Twitter About in One Word?

Read on for the answer

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[ Social Media]

The "what is Twitter about?" article is not a new concept. It’s been discussed frequently pretty much since Twitter was launched. Yet people still have a hard time grasping the concept. In fact, Twitter has had a hard time with user retention most likely because so many people try it based on all of the hype, and then don’t return because they don’t "get it." What is Twitter about to you in one word? Tell us.

Social Network Reach

The truth is, it often takes a while using the service to "get it." The more you use it, the more you start to realize the benefits that are there. I (with a little help from Mike and Tiffany) asked a whole bunch of people what Twitter is "about" to them in one word. A handful of them responded, and here are some of the answers I got:

- Updates
- Egos
- Networking/Networks
- Relationships
- Represent
- Connection
- Possibilities
- Instant
- Marketing
- Speed
- Noise
- Inane
- Communication
- Contrived
- Aggrandizement
- Useful
- Spammy
- Conversation
- Open
- Freedom
- Useless
- Awareness
- Chat

Going into this thing, the word I was clinging to in my mind was microblogging. It has always been described with this word, but what does that mean? Small blogging. To me, Twitter is not a whole lot different than a collection of blogs, only all of the entries are really short (140 characters or less).

Is there a lot of noise? Sure. Could the same thing be said about the Blogosphere? Absolutely. You read blogs because they are written by people who talk about topics you are interested in reading about, or because you’re interested in what the blogger has to say because of who they are. The same could be said about Twitter. You follow those whose thoughts you are interested in hearing, whose links you are interested in sharing, whose company’s you are interested in staying informed about, etc.

Company Twitter accounts are no different than company blogs for all intents and purposes. The same goes for personal accounts and personal blogs. Do you care what I ate for breakfast? Probably not, but someone might. And I could’ve just as easily posted the same info on my personal blog. The difference is that on Twitter, I would’ve got right to the point – I didn’t have any breakfast this morning. A blog entry might have taken several paragraphs to explain the reasoning behind this. If these are the only things I blogged about, you’d probably stop reading my blog.

If these are the only things I tweeted about, you’d probably stop following me. If twitter accounts are like blogs, then Twitter is like its own Blogosphere (or microblogosphere) combined with a feed reader. You select the ones you want to follow, just as if you were selecting what blogs to subscribe to.

To me, this is what Twitter is about. That’s not all it’s about, but that’s how I get the most use out of it. That’s probably why I am not an incredibly frequent Twitterer per se. I read Twitter a lot more than I write on Twitter, but that’s still using it. Neville Hobson recently wrote about how Twitter is for listening. For some of us, that is the biggest part of it, but still for others, it’s speaking. We couldn’t listen if nobody was talking.

It is clear that Twitter is about a variety of different things to different people (and nothing to others). One person’s microblogging service is another person’s networking platform. There is certainly plenty of crossover as well. It doesn’t have to be about strictly one thing. It’s whatever you want it to be. And if you don’t want to use it, nobody’s putting a gun to your head (hopefully).

Thank you to all who participated in my little survey. I’m not sure if we’ve helped anyone “get” it or not, but either way it was interesting to see the different words people came up with. Somehow, I didn’t get many repeats. Twitter obviously fits different molds for different people. But we already knew that.

Update: Traffic was mentioned by at least one person in the comments of this article, but a number of people have said that they get no extra traffic from Twitter. Jeremy Schoemaker of the famous Shoemoney blog has posted an article about how Twitter is now his second largest source of traffic. He writes: 

"Just engaging in the twittosphere has been amazingly rewarding. But if you still “don’t get it” its cool. Less competition."

You can see Schoemaker’s analytics chart here.

Got a word for Twitter that’s not on the list? Share it with us.

…Try not to get too profane.

What Is Twitter About in One Word?
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  • http://twitter.com/aks2008 Aswani

    Yes, twitter can be seen as a microblogging service with a difference. The only difference lies in the number of words being used for the same. 140 characters may look very small. But I think its enough to let others know about anything you would like them to know if used intelligently.

  • http://textundblog.de Markus Trapp

    A word for Twitter that’s missing on the list:

    Directness

  • http://genesisblogging.com @TraciKnoppe

    People

    While Twitter is certainly all the things listed, the core of it all is really people. It’s a social network – and the heart of that is people. Some may view it as a resource for their ‘target market’: but what that really means, is customers; i.e., people.

    Connect with, and see the social aspects of Twitter; enter into the conversations with the people on Twitter and stop worrying about your number of followers, etc… and you will ‘get’ Twitter.

    Twitter is best thought of as an interactive social ‘sport’, if you will. Sitting on the side-lines watching the tweetstream flow by, does nothing for you, or for the stream of conversations that do not know you are watching. Jump into the stream & join in the conversations to get the most out of Twitter.

  • http://potpolitics.com John Sullivan

    overrated

  • http://www.sem-advance.com SEO

    Time Waste

    its two words sue me!!!

    • Guest

      I agree!

  • Chris 54

    One word for twitter?

    egoistical

    • Guest

      very much so!

  • http://reno-rambler.blogspot.com renorambler

    narcissism

    • Guest

      lol! Boring!

  • Guest

    we-mail

  • Jim

    a Hype;complete useless

    • PJM

      We have gotten along without this nonsense in the past, we can live without it now!

  • http://twitter.com/luzsa2004 andy

    Good point, Chris. Could it be that those who drop Twitter are resisting the tight and bright writing expected from microbloggers?

    We’re not likely to draw new followers to our respective Twitter accounts if we don’t [or can't] keep their interest. To do that, we’ve got to write about what they want to read and, more importantly, keep the copy tight and bright.

    At the very least, those who keep on tweeting try.
    http://twitter.com/luzsa2004

  • Guest

    Will disappear as quickly as it appeared.

  • http://www.liveambitions.com Steve Baik

    One words: update, discuss, talk, communicate

    • PJM

      One words: update, discuss, talk, communicate, BORING! Much more constructive sites exist!

  • http://thenextpost.com Markk

    Twit.

  • Guest

    sharing
    information
    readers for articles

  • http://www.thepleasuresallmine.com Guest

    A Total waste of time.

  • http://www.palmspringsdreamhomeraffle.com UpDog

    ‘BUSY’

    It’s about stalling. Filling the attention gaps between worthy ways to spend time. Technology put focus on speed and most of us already are outpaced by it, feel the need to be busy (vs. productive), and twitter allows me to *look busy* anywhere, anytime.

    It’s like a sanctioned, conscious, self-induced micro coma.

    • http://www.melbourneonline.com.au/web-design.asp Mark – Web Design Melbourne

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a huge waste of time but serves the purpose of making bored people seem busy.

  • http://www.willowtreegiftshop.com.au Jenni C

    I tried it because of the hype. Couldn’t see the point of it and gave up. Tried again from a business perspective and same result. Couldn’t see the point. After a given period of time I could create just as much interest in my business as my blog could. So twitter-is-for-the-birds/”>why do we need Twitter when blogging has been serving our needs so well?

    One must ask the question - is Web 2.0 a friend or a foe?

    • PJM

      Twitter is a very time-wasting, pointless site. I tried it for my business and found that it makes no difference. It doesn’t bring new traffic or anything hardly!

  • Guest

    brilliant

  • Stuart

    — unintelligible

    “tight and bright writing” are you kidding?

    badly spelled, poor grammar, incomprehensible txt speak

    maybe it’s “tight and bright” if you are mentally ill.

    • Guest

      Agreed! Twitter is not the best of concepts!

  • PJM

    STUPIDWASTEOFTIME!!

  • http://www.hiveminds.co.uk Carl McDade

    uncomplicated

  • http://www.firmalatter.dk Ejvind

    uninteresting

  • http://www.thepathwebdesign.com Neil

    Well actually Ive thought of two:

    Rubbish and Boring!!!!!

    The only use I have for it is telling people about any new websites I make. Dont get much traffic from the tweets though.

    • Guest

      Probably because you only use it for telling people about new websites you make…

  • http://webli.st Firas Steitiyeh

    Blogository (Blogs Repository)

    Twitter, is a repository of almost all blogs on the web!!

  • David

    Whether listening or speaking isn

  • Chris Crum

    A lot of varied and interesting opinions of Twitter. Please keep them coming!

    • http://www.mtuba4u.co.za mtuba4u

      Problem is most prople do niot understand what twitter is, and try to use it the wrong way, then when it fails they compalain.

      Twitter is like microblogging, used to keep those interested in a process informed of the progress of the process.

      For example, a band haveing a concert would twitter about who will be there, what type of music will be played, who the expected audience will be, where to find a ticket, and all kinds of usefull pointers to people who they believe may be interested in attending the concert.

      These messages are all small and easily read. each single message will be one point that is expanded else where.

      Twitter is not really micro blogging, as some twitters have a large number of echos, and reverbreate around the net at great speed.

      Twitter is a great site for those who need to inform their customer base or audience of happenomgs as they occur, and may be considered an instant messaging type service combind with a Blog and rolled into one site.

      The fact that you may get allerts from twitter on subject matter of your choice because of RSS feeds is also vitaly important and this makes Twitter so much more difficult to sumerise in one word.

      The best single word for twitter is TWITTER – continuous updates in small does of current activities and trends, to be used for planning purposes, with the option of revieving querries from prospective consumers in bite sised chunks, instantly ready for conumption., where simple yes and no answers will suffice.

  • http://www.argusvision.net Zeb

    What exactly is the point of letting someone know what I had in my breakfast? Even if i want to, what are newsletters and blogs for?

  • http://prestigeimportofatlanta.com scott klein

    Twitter in one word…

    “Confusing”

    I think I’m on the same page with several people here….What’s the big deal. Who cares who’s doing what right now. You can’t (at least I haven’t figure out how to) communicate with people. The only way I see to make it work is to be on the site all day long and who has time for that.

  • http://ontoppr.blogspot.com Diane Stein

    My one word is research. I find Twitter to be an excellent source of information about what is happening, what is new, the latest trends in my industry and the industries of my clients. Just like life – Twitter is what you make of it.

  • http://newsunseo.com Internet Marketing NY

    Twitter is beginning to bring us A LOT of traffic. We have about 10k followers currently.

  • http://www.usfreeads.com/1812128-cls.html Guest

    I tried it and just can’t stay interested. I was just getting some good use out of instant messenger until Twitter came along and guess what…it’s going to pass right by me because I am not trying to learn anything else about the internet.

  • http://www.hudsonhorizons.com Lauren

    Thanks to an enormous number of active & engaging users, I find Twitter to be a tremendous window/door/platform/what have you for opportunity. If and how people choose to embrace and employ that opportunity is up to them. As far as outgoing content goes, I like to look at each tweet as an opportunity to dazzle those who took the time to follow me with helpful resources, relevant articles, and of course, personal witticisms… as far as incoming content goes, I embrace each tweet as an opportunity to learn something new from the fascinating and dynamic characters I follow.

    -Lauren (@beebow)

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com Diamonds

    Not4Everybody

    This can be useful for some industries like the music industry, you could follow concerts and other events. It’s not like you can’t do this on FB or MySpace though…

  • http://twitter.com/surferjoe2020 Surferjoe2020

    Inform@ionjunkie

  • Karl

    FAD!

  • http://www.caromillan.com Carolina

    Globalization

  • http://crazytittletattle.blogspot.com Cathy Laine

    —> Witt <—

    • Guest

      Twit

  • http://www.thepleasuresallmine.com Guest

    a complete and utter waste of time, unless of course you have nothing better to do

  • http://ebook-site.com Bryan Quinn

    An opportunity to express your thoughts to an audience, good or bad, important or not.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    If used correctly, money does come from Twitter ;) not so much with those aff landing pages with redirects.. heck, I don’t trust too many to actually pay. Promoting your own service is best!

    http://www.twitter.com/snerdey

    • Nita

      Pronounced ??-(?)g? ?din.

  • http://www.DailyScoff.com J. Gravelle

    “Me”

    -jjg

  • http://www.wehringerandco.com Tracy Wehringer

    Twitter is another channel for marketing. A conversation is going on within your niche and all you need to do is join the conversation with your buyer personas. Just another touch point.

    I’m a believer :)

  • Guest

    two words: Public Relations.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kamret kamret

    Mini-blogs

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com/personalsecurity Official Safety and Security

    As a web site owner of safety and security products, I’m still leraning how to raise awarness for my products without being spammy. Twitter is an interesting concept that does take some getting used to. Thanks, Chris.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kamret Kamaraj Retnasami

    E-marketing

  • http://www.beijingdiscoverytours.com Beijing Tours

    Networking!

  • http://www.horozima.com Lawrence

    Follow and let others to follow for some good reason.

  • http://www.ukmagz.co.uk UK Magazine

    A Short messaging Blog.

  • http://www.straightalk.biz/links/home.php Social Network Marketing

    STRAIGHTALK