What can you get in a mere 140 characters that changes your life or has a deep, meaningful impact? Turns out, you can get a lot.
Twitter is known for its brevity and speed. Where Facebook lets you post a photo album of your last vacation, Twitter limits you to just four images. Where Facebook lets you write a long monologue, Twitter asks you to wrap up in 140 characters. Where Facebook manages your timeline to show you the best information, Twitter is a constantly updating stream of consciousness.
It sounds limiting and it sounds overwhelming, but once you actually start using it, you realise what Twitter is and isn’t. It’s not just a social network. It’s a broadcast network, a platform for any voice in the world to be heard.
Seriously, why aren’t you using it, you luddite? We’ve tried reasoning with you to use Twitter, but since that hasn’t got the message through, it’s time to get serious and make you realise why Twitter is a necessity in your digital life.
Twitter Dispenses Of Social Niceties and Pressures
Most social networks have implicit agreements. If you get a Friend Request on Facebook, you have to approve that person. If you don’t want to be friends, you can either reject it and break the social contract or leave it unattended, hanging there like the sword of Damocles. Inevitably, you meet in person and that someone asks, “Hey, I sent you a friend request on Facebook.” The hair snaps.
Things are easier on Twitter. If someone follows you, you don’t need to “approve” them. And in the constant stream of updates and notifications, you can even honestly claim you never saw it. More importantly, you could even follow someone (which sends them a notification) and then unfollow them (for which there is no notification). Twitter makes it easy to not be connected online with people you don’t want to be, without having it become a social faux pas. And as our online and offline lives converge, that is a priceless element.
Of course, if you are that interested, you can still find out if you are being unfollowed. But really, what’s the point?
The Coolest Celebrity Conversations Happen Here
There are a number of celebrities and important personalities actively using Twitter. And that usually means you can check out some incredible conversations happening between them.
For instance, before the Superbowl, actors Chris Pratt and Chris Evans—both lifelong fans of the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots—took to Twitter to talk some smack and bet a visit to a charity of the winner’s choice. With a few RTs, the whole exchange spread like wildfire and was the trending topic on Twitter that day.
— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) January 19, 2015
It’s not just the entertainment industry. Even politicians realise the importance of Twitter. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful campaign was often lauded for its expert use of social media in general, and the Prime Minister’s use of Twitter in particular. And even after taking office, he is still using it regularly, even for important events. Last year, PM Modi invited US President Barack Obama to be the first sitting President to visit India on its Republic Day celebrations. The invitation happened via Twitter:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 21, 2014
Twitter is the #SecondScreen
The use of hashtags on Twitter came from Twitter users, not even Twitter itself. But the use of hashtags has caught on like never before, and it’s most prevalent with television and live sporting events.
Actors like Joshua Malina live-tweet during the airing of their shows. The TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver regularly uses Twitter to galvanise its mobile-friendly audience, like with the Jeff The Diseased Lung Cowboy campaign, titled #JeffWeCan:
Sporting events continuously flash an official hashtag. With both last year’s Soccer World Cup in Brazil and the ongoing Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, there is a lot of data to support that Twitter is indeed a “second screen” and a way to augment your world cup viewing experience.
As Twitter’s Raheel Khursheed said:
— Raheel Khursheed (@Raheelk) February 17, 2015
In fact, with actors, commentators, sportspersons and others using Twitter, you can quickly be left out of the conversation if you aren’t using it as a second screen.
The other upside of these hashtags is that if you aren’t interested in a topic or don’t want to hear about it, you can use the mute button to clean up your timeline.
Facebook is Incestuous; Twitter Expands Your Network
Twitter’s ability to let you follow anyone and interact with them (you can send a message to anyone) makes it a better platform for networking than Facebook. Think about it, Facebook is usually a circle of people whom you already know in real life or have heard of before, and the online connection is only expanding on your existing network.
However, on Twitter, you can actually strike up a conversation with a stranger, follow them to see if he/she might be someone you can be friends with, and grow a relationship. There are also some interesting ways to find new people on Twitter. You can even build relationships with minor celebrities—they are real people after all.
I have cultivated friendships and relationships that started on Twitter, and know several others who have too. And this includes people halfway across the planet, those in neighbouring warring countries, as well as those who live down the block. If the point of a social network is to meet new people, hear new thoughts and build a larger network of those who can help, then Twitter is where it’s at.
The Biggest Reason to Use Twitter: You’ll Feel Left Out If You Don’t
Twitter is big. Ask around, chances are that half the people you know are using it. And when something is that big and you aren’t part of it, you will be left out of conversations and miss out on what’s happening around you. It’s that simple.
Tell Us Your Twitter Story
What’s holding you back from using Twitter? If you’re a Twitter addict or a new Twitter user, what has made you a fan? We want to know, and we want to change minds. Let’s talk in the comments.