Twitter is awesome and overwhelming. On March 4, 2009, I signed up – like millions of other people – to Twitter. Many of these millions of new users have been attributed to spam, advertisers, and ghost users, however the amount of real people posting quality links has kept me happily using Twitter.
I use Twitter for two main reasons, networking with people in my discipline and city, and promoting valuable resources for my own niche community of martial arts enthusiasts (kinda dorky, I know). When I graduated University, and began figuring out how I would pay back my heaps of debt, a woman (Janice La Couvee) contacted me on Twitter asking me how she could help me. I was taken aback by her unsolicited offer, and we met for a coffee. Over a hot cup of java, Janice gave me access to her network. One of her contacts lead to a pretty awesome volunteer opportunity, with the Canadian College of Performing Arts, giving me some much needed real world, resume-worthy, experience.
I practice and teach an obscure martial art, Chen Style Practical Method Tai Chi, and our community is scattered across the world. Resources and conversations about this martial art are hard to find, and many of the people who train locally move away. Twitter has connected me with martial arts enthusiasts from around the world. Masters in Australia, America, and Europe, such as @chrischats, @TanDoaKungfu, and @masterboozer, share valuable information and experience via Twitter.
This fall, my twitter account was hacked. I clicked on a spam direct message disguised as link from an otherwise reliable user, and they spammed out 500 Direct Messages (DMs) to all of my Followers. The worst part, some people believed I would send them a poorly written tweet about weight loss programs. With a password change and few apologies everything turned out fine. Scams are part of internet life. Be careful of who you follow, and which links you click.
Twitter is an internet service with the ability to change lives. It’s networking capabilities allow you to meet people from within your choice of communities and interests. From around the world and in your hometown, people are contributing, a.k.a. Tweeting, to their communities.
This year, I have met many local people from Twitter (tweeps) at local ‘tweetups’. Together, we organized a social media charity function “Twestival”, a social networking fundraiser supporting a local charity. We held a silent auction for donations from people and companies who use twitter. Although holding a twestival is a new name for an old idea, a group of local people – Twitter users – got together to raise funds for a non-profit.
Second only to real-time search, Twitter’s best feature is its layout. Many people can’t get over the limit of a 140 characters, but it’s limited design makes information clear and concise. It feels like you are brainstorming with unlimited amounts of people, because it is invitational and you can choose which accounts you want to follow.
Twitter can be whatever you want it to be. If you like celebrities, there are tons on Twitter, if you like graphic design or photography there are plenty of resources and information for you. If you like cute animals, hockey, or UFC, you will find a community for that too.
The problem is managing all of these interesting people, and interesting articles. Twitter can be a time suck, and you don’t need to subscribe to the noise all of the time. For a much better musing on how to manage the scale of your online socialization, read Wired Magazine’s Clive Thompson in Praise of Online Obscurity, Tweet responsibly and have fun,
Find me on Twitter @Jordan_Keats
P.S. Although I am blogging about social media, I do have a real job: www.outpostcommunication.com