Like me, love me, brand me! (l)

(This one’s a two-parter! Golly, I’ve been a busy bee!)

A few weeks back, a (rather jolly successful) marketing friend of mine came to visit. We went out for a meal, and over an exquisitely arranged starter, got to talking about blogging, facebook and twitter. She explained that she really couldn’t see the point of twitter – the status updates were the most annoying element of facebook anyway, so how could a site dedicated to nothing but updates appeal to anyone? Never one to back away from a challenge, I had to step in with my two penn’th!

To begin with, I don’t think one should ever underestimate the appeal of the mundane. As someone, somewhere in the internet ether once argued (forgive me, I’ve forgotten where exactly) we ask our friends what they’ve been up to when we engage in conversation, don’t we? We share last night’s TV viewing with our colleagues, tell our mothers what we’re about to cook for dinner, relay stories about the traffic or the weather to our hairdressers… this is small talk. It’s shared experience, the basis of social interaction.

But look again and you’ll see that twitter goes much farther than that. For me it is a place in which I share information and links, and find out the latest news. I used to have the BBC News website open on my desktop, flicking through the most-read and most-shared stories each morning with my morning cuppa. Now I subscribe to the subsections of national newspapers, breaking news channels and frontline blogs and let them tell me when a story is breaking. When Michael Jackson was rushed to hospital I was watching another channel, but thanks to twitter I knew that something was going on. As with 9.11, I watched events unfold on a news channel (last time CNN, this time BBC News 24) – but it was twitter that alerted me to their beginnings.

Of course, this discussion took place long before MJ’s death had crashed Google, before the twitterverse had gone green and changed location to confuse and confound the Iranian government. The full extent of twitter’s reach and influence hadn’t been seen as yet (and may not have been yet!) – still, I was convinced of it’s usefulness.

I also use twitter to keep track of other people’s blogs. To go through my bloglist (see column to the right –>) takes… well, let’s just say more than my lunch hour. Half of those won’t have been updated, but I’ll have still lost a couple of minutes waiting for the page to load, then a couple more returning to my list (yes, our work connection is tediously slow!). If my favourite bloggers tweet (and for the most part it seems they do!) they tend to also tweet when they’ve written a new blog post. Allowing me to be first on the scene, up-to-date and ready with a keyboard-loaded comment!

Which leads me neatly on to my next item: networking. Twitter, unlike blogging, takes down the barriers of blog content. Blog etiquette deems that a comment should really relate to the content of the post. Twitter takes this constraint away, allowing you to interact socially on a whole new level – much as you would with a friend. Case in point, I happen to know that lovely Amy stubbed her toe last week – because she tweeted it. And I was able to express sympathy, just as I would had a friend texted with the same news. Twitter allows you to build relationships on a more personal level, but without having to intrude beyond the confines of the computer screen. Not unlike facebook, it’s the much needed bridge between shared web presence and actual friendship.

Need a breather? I do. Part II coming up tomorrow.

(Read Part II here)

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8 thoughts on “Like me, love me, brand me! (l)

  1. You should really get aquainted with Google Reader, instead of manually checking blogs – it’s fabulous! All the blogs you read in one place 🙂

    I love twitter, personally – I love the conversational aspect of it all. It is more personal and interactive than blogging is.

    • Do you know Zoe, it’s funny you should say that. As soon as I’d finished this post I thought exactly the same – and have just been setting myself up this morning!

      I too love twitter, in case you couldn’t tell… 🙂

  2. “I don’t think one should ever underestimate the appeal of the mundane”

    This is the crux of it for me – and I, too, used to think Twitter was the most useless invention ever. But I basically get to have the same kind of conversations on it that I would have if I had a “proper” workplace, and for someone who works from home, that’s quite important. When I used to write for Shiny Media, most of my colleages were in London, and I’m in Scotland, but I was still able to stay in touch with them, and keep up with what was going on etc, on Twitter – and much better than I would have via email etc, purely because people DO share the little, mundane details that, as you point out, are exactly the kind of things we talk about in person anyway. I feel I’ve become closer to some bloggers I know too, because on Twitter I can have a more or less “real time” conversation with them about stuff that may be trivial, but which can be fun to talk about, and which help you know a person.

    To be honest, it makes me smile now when people accuse Twitter of being “trivial” or “mundane” (even although I used to do it too). Do these people only ever have conversations about deep, meaninful things and super-important issus? I doubt it. I bet in real life even they sometimes talk about what they’re having for lunch and which pair of shoes they have their eye on. That’s how conversation works, and Twitter is just another form of conversation.

    Sorry for the long comment – I had no idea I apparently wanted to say all of that about Twitter! (Especially given that it’s been annoying the life out of me recently!)

  3. As someone who only met you because of Twitter, I can safely say that I need no convincing of it’s place in our busy lives. My life is richer because of the relationships I have forged (present company most definitely included) and the information I have gleaned.

    By the way, I was going to mention Google Reader to you the other day but we got chatting about something else and I forgot. you will never go back!

  4. I like the “social” side of twitter, but unless you are a company with a constant breaking news stream – I think it fails on the corporate side. I also tend to lose respect (just personally) for companies who have facebook pages…

    I spend half my life chasing permissions to print material about customers using our products, and most of the time they wont let me! If I had a corporate twitter page – you would be lucky to get an update every 6 months! 🙂

  5. Zoe’s right about Google reader. That is how I keep up with my blogs.

    I have a Twitter account, but I haven’t logged in for so long that I cannot remember my screenname! I guess I’ll have to sort all that out so that I can chat with people more.

    I like the status updates in Facebook, so perhaps I’ll give Twitter another chance.

  6. Just getting to grips with Facebook! By the time I get to Twitter something else will have taken it’s place. I have trouble persuading my friends that Facebook is ‘Safe’ (provided you set up the security properly). My peers are sooo suspicious and lacking in computer literacy!!xxx

  7. I used to wonder what the point of Twitter was too, but for me it’s been an absolute dream. It took some convincing as I’ve never liked Facebook or MysPace – I find that there can be such a judgemental aspect to those sites and there just seems to be a nasty undercurrent to them both. Twitter on the other hand seems to ostensibly be about exchanging the mundane, which as Amber wonderfully points out, is essential if you work from home. It’s not about who’s saying what to whom, who’s commenting on who’s pictures and the like, it’s all about small talk – an online text if you will, no hidden agenda.

    Twitter is often where I first hear breaking news stories, it’s where I can check up on new blog posts, see new items from all my fellow indie designers – I’ve even had an amazing business opportunity come my way, entirely because of Twitter. Someone saw one of my ‘mundane’ tweets’ about a new bag I’d listed on Etsy, and then a few tweets later we’d set up a wholesale deal between little old Wonderland Boutique and her beautiful store in Scotland!

    So Twitter, despite myself, I have come to ♥ you – for where else could I tell the world I stubbed my toe in an unfortunate pyjama-related accident?!

    A x

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