Posted by: smirkdirk | February 28, 2010

Giving Twitter a Second Chance

When some of the younger folks at one of my regular internet hang-outs started talking up the merits of Twitter, I decided to check it out. I wasn’t impressed.

Most of the major media focus on celebrity tweets – as though I care about when Ashton Kutcher last wiped his ass.

In fact, celebs who rely too much on Facebook and Twitter to touch base with their fans a lot of time highlight not only the vacuousness of themselves, but the vacuousness of social media in general – and Twitter in particular. A good example of this is Sarah Palin‘s recent Twitter about leaving Obama’s healthcare summit to attend the Olympics.

“Drag away from Obamacare mtg today2cheer Red,White&Blue:USA Women’s Hockey w/AK’s own#23 Weiland play Canada for Gold.Huge contest.Go U-S-A!” 5:03 PM Feb 25th via OpenBeak ”

Was she really “Drag away…” or did she choose to leave? She’s being disingenuous here. Her choice of words to fit the 140 character limit, and the fact that she chose to communicate using a medium with a 140 character limit leaves one wondering if she actually thinks that this particular game was, in fact, more important than her voice in the health care debate.

In the media and on her Facebook page she’s been quite vocal about her negative opinions about “Obamacare” – in fact, was it not Sarah Palin who popularized the term “death panels”? And yet, when she has the chance to voice her view to Obama’s face she Twitters that a hockey game is more important. It’s not even worth a Facebook post – she Twitters it. Sad.

The other thing about celebrity twittering is that a lot of celebrities from Ashton Kutchner to Stephen Colbert think that they’re much wittier than they actually are. Stephen Colbert is actually witty most of the time on television, but I only chuckle at about 1 in 10 of his tweets. It’s hard to be funny constantly and Colbert’s Twitter (though worth subscribing to if you are a fan of him) is proof of that. John Mayer, another Twitter addict, has also recently apologized for his lack of celebrity cleverness.

Twitter also has a corporate side. In industry magazines and business trade publications there are constant articles about the sheer power of Twitter to market whatever you’re selling. Until someone proves me wrong, I call this bullshit. Toys R. Us, Walmart, Gamestop – all of these companies began tweeting. And you know what? Their tweets are crap. If I am a regular customer of yours and want to know about your sales, I’ll visit your website or sign up for your email list. Basically, Twitter is a brand new way to get spammed should you choose to be. No Thanks!

So far, I have yet to follow any business. I did check out some accounts for businesses I frequent, but its nothing that I’m not getting in my email inbox already. Furthermore, since these companies aren’t limited to 140 characters within the emails they can actually give you the real low-down on their products and sales. As a customer, I have found very little value in Twitter as a real marketing tool to your average business.

So, ho-hum, I abandoned my Twitter account within days of creating it. I had seen Twitter mainly as a cellphone application. When I first created it I set my account to text message me the tweets of the few people I had decided to follow. Big mistake. I was being texted constantly with inane shit from Colbert and a few internet acquaintances. Me and Twitter broke up. It was a brief and uninteresting affair, not really even worth mentioning.

Fast forward a few months. I was on Xbox Live playing 1 vs. 100 (Damn, I miss that game…) and got bored and started traversing the Xbox Live Dashboard. Xbox has gotten quite a bit of content lately, from Netflix streaming capabilities, to news and video from NBC and MSNBC, to a Facebook application (I totally avoid facebook because I don’t have the time), to, yup, a Twitter app. I signed into my abandoned Twitter account through Xbox and began browsing around. I clicked through from Colbert’s account to see who he followed and who else was following him, and ended up on Roger Ebert’s account, and from there on to some random people who follow him – a great wide expanse of random non-famous people like myself – and than on to Hugh Hefner and then back to Roger Ebert.

If any single device is responsible for my return to Twitter it would be my Xbox 360, not because its a particularly good Twitter device, it’s not. But it is a way to access Twitter and see what’s going on in Twitter world. The Xbox showed me that some Twitter worlds are better than others. The people that I know personally are always fun to check in on, and the minds of the world that I respect provide food for thought 140 characters at a time. The downsides of the XBox as a Twitter device are that typing your own tweet is sorta a pain in the ass with the on-screen keyboard, and mainly, since the Xbox has no true browser, any links to other web content found in people’s tweets are inaccessible.

And therein lies the real power of Twitter. Did you catch it? Let me go ahead and repeat the important part: “…links to other web content found in people’s tweets…”

If the Xbox is the device that brought me back to Twitter, Roger Ebert is the prolific Twitterer that has showed me the power of Twitter and, more importantly, how it is used properly. The majority of Mr. Ebert’s tweets include links to stuff he’s found elsewhere. Without access to these links, his stuff is generally worthless, thus although Twitter is accessible via Xbox, PS3 and most famously, text messaging, it is through the actual web that it’s real power lies.

This is not to say that there is not a place for tweets about what people are doing right now. I love to watch my daughter’s Twitter account, which is one of the few people I follow that I have set to come directly to my phone as a text message. I’m not sure how she got re-involved with Twitter, but she had dumped it for quite a while and around the time I started to come back to it a few weeks ago, so did she. She’ll Twitter random stuff about doing the dishes, or that she’s about to go grocery shopping. Even though I don’t care if Ashton Kutchner is doing the dishes, I do care when my daughter is doing the dishes. Interesting – if you have an personal relationship with a twitterer, it makes twittering totally interesting and cool.

So what to take away from this post:

I totally recommend Twitter – with a few ground rules.

A.) Always follow people you actually know and care about. In these cases, even what would normally seem boring tweets are awesome!

B.) Just because you find a celebrity interesting, it doesn’t mean their Twitter is interesting. Be selective.

C.) By the same token, sometimes you may not find a celebrity interesting, you may even hate the celebrity, but check out their Twitter. Sometimes it is totally interesting

D.) Although there are some exceptions, a good Twitterer is essentially good at writing and smart which leads us to this General Rule: The bigger the brain, the better the Twitter, the smaller the brain, the lamer the twitter. (We all like to look a pictures of Jessica Simpson, but her Twitter is no fun. By contrast, looking at Mr. Ebert these days is a tough sell, even he will admit this, but his Twitter is eeeyawsome.)

As you can see, my blog itself has undergone a quickie redesign. This was mainly to account for my resurrected Twitter account. The new design allows the Twitter feed to be right at the top of the page, and you, dear reader, don’t have to be a member of Twitter to check it out. There’s tons of stuff I come across on the internet on a regular basis that I’d love to share, but its just not worth a whole blog post. Twitter allows me to blog when I’m totally not in the mood to blog, to post stuff for future reference without having to expend much effort, and to goof off when I’m in the mood. The abundance of bad writing, incoherence and inanity that is this blog can now be increased tenfold people! Thank you, Twitter.

In the GTA IV episode “The Ballad of Gay Tony” Twitter is known as Bleeter – a’la sheep – as in “He just Bleeted that he’s taking a crap overlooking Central Park” – Here’s more on that.

And here’s some twisted chick who Tweeted throughout her abortion procedure: Happy Reading!
P.S.: All blogs should have Twitter feeds. (I’m talking to you, Lootsteen.)

P.S.S.: I haven’t completed settled on this blog design, but whatever I finally end up with, the Twitter will be at the top.

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Responses

  1. Not much to argue with here. I will take your thoughts into consideration. For me, the only real use I can think of is to post music. Given that I only write about 10-20% of the music I find and like…some songs are just a good listen without need of exploration…so I could see that as a possible use. Hmmm…

  2. Yeah, but what about my fascinating insights into grease and Day Light Savings Time and the pictures of my dog – You too could be so prolific!

    In fact, why am I even commenting here when I could be tweeting my reply?


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