What is Twitter Good For?


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An acquaintance of mine, Deb, made an interesting assertion at the [re]Think Hawaii conference last week. She suggested that Twitter is where conversations are happening. I suggested that that isn’t quite accurate.

As you very well know, I am on Twitter. However, I don’t use it to have conversations as some of you do. To me, trying to use Twitter to have a conversation is similar to using a screwdriver to pound a nail into a steel door. Sure, it’s a tool… but are you using that tool the way it was designed?

Twitter wasn’t designed for conversations. It’s difficult to track them. To go one level deep into an interaction is an exercise in futility. Have you ever gone to a person’s page, and seen ten tweets in a row, complete with several @msgs? It’s impossible to follow.

I say that if you want to have an actual conversation, I feel you should be doing so somewhere like FriendFeed or Facebook. That is easy to track. Twitter wasn’t built with threading in mind. It’s a great tool, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not a place to have conversations. Don’t use it in ways it was never meant to be used.

Sooner or later, I’m sure that Twitter will figure out a way to make it easy to follow threads and conversations. A one-to-one is done easily via a direct message… such as with IM or email.

I’m going on record as a person in the world of social media, and state outright that Twitter isn’t a good way to have a conversation. If someone @myself, I tend to follow up via email or DM if I want to reply to or address whatever it was. However, it’s very seldom that I try to interact with someone on a one-on-one basis on Twitter. I usually only share information that I think would be funny/interesting/informative to my community.

I could be wrong, of course. This is just my opinion. If you do disagree with me, you can say so on Twitter, or even here on my blog.

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