Why Use Twitter?

How to decide if you should use twitter.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #97


Kent wrote in asking whether Twitter is a productivity tool.

Would you please do a future podcast on the effective and efficient use of Twitter?   I have been under the impression that Twitter is just a time-waster. However, after learning that you are on Twitter, I realize that I must be missing something!

The quick and dirty tip is to follow people with content you want, and do outbound tweeting only if you know why you’re doing it.

Why Use Twitter?

I am GetItDoneGuy on Twitter. But just because I tweet doesn’t mean you should. Given all the Twitter hype, let me share my Twitter experience.

From the media hype, you’d think broadcasting on Twitter is like being Mick Jagger, Madonna, or Britney Spears in concert, only without the lips, the pointy bras, or the nervous breakdowns, respectively. You compose your 140-character literary masterpiece, tweet it out, and your hordes of followers--who do nothing with their lives except wait to hear your words of wisdom--eagerly devour every bit. (Pun intentional.)

The reality is a bit less sexy. It’s kind of like writing on the world’s biggest bathroom wall. Only one that anyone can read, even your parents. If that isn’t terrifying enough, your tweets stick around forever, so that one-time drunken indiscretion… let’s just say, what happens in Vegas stays in your Twitter update stream forever unless you remember to delete it by hand.

Twitter Rekindles Friendship

When you follow a Twitterer, you see their updates on your Twitter home page or get the updates as text messages on your cell phone. I started for the friends. I followed my friends and they followed back. Joel would tweet, “Sipping mocha grande while waiting in line to see Snow White and the Seven Vertically Challenged Laborers.” I’d seen it the week before, so I called and we had a great conversation.

With Twitter you get a glimpse into people’s lives. If you’ve ever lived in a dorm or fraternity, you’ll know the feeling. For example, you’ll know Bernice just ran out of laundry detergent and felt strongly enough to tweet about it—something you most likely never would have known about in the pre-Twitter world. It’s those small things that bring you closer. Just like living in a dorm. Only without the smell of dirty socks.

Twitter Brings Wisdom … and Coupons

These days, many people tweet to share articles, opinions, and tips related to their industry or business. Follow those Twitterers for good information. One of my favorites is ChrisBrogan, who I met on Twitter.

These days, you can also follow companies and they tweet links to coupons and marketing giveaways. Personally, I get enough marketing. I follow friends and people with good content. Marketers can look elsewhere.

Should You Follow Celebrities on Twitter?

Some celebrities have Twitter accounts. My guess is their PR people write their tweets, so I wouldn’t bother following them. If any celebrities are listening and want to dispute the point, email getitdone@quickanddirtytips.com and we’ll do a special podcast where you can tell your side of the story. Yes, Rachel Maddow, this means you.

Who Should You Follow on Twitter and How?

You can follow people from your cell phone by texting “follow twittername” to 40404. Their updates get sent to your cell phone as text messages. You can also follow someone through Twitter.com. Their updates won’t go to your cell phone, but will appear on your Twitter front page.

Be selective in whom you follow. I used to follow everyone who follows me. Eventually I was following a thousand people and couldn’t keep up. These days, I only read tweets that are explicitly directed at me. If I could turn back time, I would follow only a few dozen people at most, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with more.

How My Use of Twitter Has Evolved

Originally, I tweeted to keep in touch with friends. That was fun and personal. Then I started asking Get-it-Done Guy listeners to follow me and Twitter became a way to have a conversation with my listeners, answer quick questions, and provide “micro-value.” Since starting my book, it’s also been great way to ask my audience to answer questions on my blog that are influencing how the book develops.

My goal is to build an audience who knows and respects my work enough to help me build a media career. I still tweet personal things, so people get a glimpse of the me behind the podcast. I also tweet tips and observations on life that I hope get people thinking. Twitter gives me a way to interact one-on-one even when my audience is large. That’s just neat!

Be Thoughtful if You Choose to Tweet

If you decide to tweet, you’ve become a broadcaster. What’s your goal, and who’s your audience? Tweeting to stay in touch with friends is very different from tweeting to build a podcast following. Decide what content you’ll share. You can give people a peek into your life and offer advice, insight, article recommendations, inane puns, humorous quotes, or a short critique of every person you meet at your local speed-dating event. Limit your tweets to 3-4 per day or you’ll overwhelm people.

When following, follow people whose content you value. Like me. Only follow as many people as you want to keep up with. To get started, “follow GetItDoneGuy.” If you send a tweet that starts with @-sign GetItDoneGuy, I’ll see it within a few days and reply if I can.

For more on managing your social media, check out this handy little episode I did a while back.

This is Stever Robbins. Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

Twitter Birds image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.