July 09, 2009

A Skeptic's Guide To Twitter

I've been a pretty vocal critic of Twitter.

Nonetheless, I have given it a chance. I've been on it for about 8 weeks now, and I'm ready to issue my final report.

It's a mixed bag.

1. I stand by my initial evaluation that, for the most part, it's how the narcissistic keep in touch with the feckless. This opinion has only been reinforced by the growth of celebrity Twittering and the phony sense of "community" it has engendered in the foolish and impressionable. I also stand by my initial opinion that about 5% of if is useful and 95% is worthless.

2. I still believe that, for the most part, Tweets fall into two obnoxious categories:
  • Idiotic stream of nothingness
  • Thinly disguised self-promotion
3. Personally, I have found two worthwhile uses for Twitter. Both extremely selfish:
  • To promote this blog
  • To follow what is being said about this blog in Twitterland.
Since opening my Twitter account, I have added about 10% more new subscribers. Even though I try to "follow" everyone who follows me, my follow is very hollow. Honestly, I read almost no tweets that don't reference this blog.

4. While most of the claims about business uses for Twitter are overblown, I can see how Twitter can be useful:
  • as a tactical tool for retailers. It allows them to reach a lot of people quickly and cheaply with an offer ("Save $5 on a pizza tonight.")
  • as a customer relations tool. However, this is tricky and must be done seriously and expertly. It has the potential to really piss customers off if it's seen as simply a promotional gimmick.
5. When you read all the stuff about Twitter becoming a powerful form of citizen journalism, remember, the exact same predictions were made about blogging.

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