I’ve been talking a lot about Twitter lately. Not on Twitter, but In Real Life. The people I’ve been talking to are Facebook Fiends (and friends), but Twitter Sitters. Meaning they are constantly interacting on Facebook and they have a Twitter account, but just sit on it rather than participate.
I’ve been trying to explain the draw of Twitter and what they can get out of it. It wasn’t until I got around to reading an article by Jacob Weisberg on Twitter in the March issue of Vogue (with a sultry Adele on the cover) called FAST COMPANY that I finally understood what I wanted to really say: Facebook is an extension of your real life social circle, while Twitter can actually extend your online and real life social circle.
I first joined Facebook when I was leaving my previous place of employment and everyone kept asking how we would keep in touch, which was followed by, “Are you on Facebook?” So to keep a social circle that would have otherwise fallen by the wayside, I signed up and collected friends both past and present. But, I keep my privacy settings on high alert and I don’t friend anyone that I haven’t actually met face to face. I message through Facebook and have organized events and groups, all with people that I have personal connections with in the real world.
Twitter, ironically, is more of an open book than Facebook. It is a public forum where anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone, it doesn’t have to be a reciprocal relationship like Facebook friends (of course, I’m leaving out people who have protected tweets, they don’t count). The trick with Twitter is you need to be following the right people, many of whom you do not yet know and may never know. By following tweeps you are not asking to be their friend, you just want them to share something of interest.
At first, I had some trouble decoding tweets, I was confused by all the @’s, RT’s, MT’s #FF’s and all the other hashtags (funny, I thought it was a number sign). What did they mean? How did they work? I did my research, stuck with it and one day it became a second language. As I got comfortable and started interacting more I began to feel at home. I understood the humour in fake hashtags and enjoyed engaged in two way conversations with people known and unknown. But, I had to step outside my comfort zone and try some new things. I’ve certainly made mistakes and missteps on Twitter, but the tide of tweets just washes them away and I continue to learn and improve.
The Vogue article compared Facebook to a walled garden where anonymity and parody are not allowed by the powers that be, while “Twitter prides itself on openness and egalitarianism – innovation percolates up from users rather than being pushed out from headquarters.” In the world of Social Media, Facebook leans to the Social and Twitter smacks more of Media. While Facebook has been keeping me up to date on my friends and family, Twitter has been feeding me news about my community and interests at an amazing speed. Twitter users have filled me in on earthquakes, police investigations, fires, sales, community events and celebrity deaths (some prematurely announced) before traditional news sources can grab their press pass.
So, if you have all the friends and business connections you’ll ever need and you like getting your news a day late then be a Twitter Sitter and a Facebook Fiend, but if you want to expand your online world and be connected to your community then tweet away! As I look forward to my first Tweet Up (a meet up of local Twitter users) I’m excited to increase my social circle and maybe make a few more friends.