So what is it? To put it short it’s a blog where all the posts consist of 140 characters or less. No images, but maybe a link. It’s very easy to update. You can do it from your instant messenger, from the web or via SMS from your mobile.
But why? I can easily fill eirikso.com with 140 character posts. And, it’s not too difficult to post to my blog via SMS or IM.
There’s more to twitter than the micro blog it leaves on your own twitter page. You can follow people and people can follow you. Still, all of this is possible through regular blogs. I can follow your RSS feed and you can follow mine. But that’s the point where the usability and simplicity kicks in. Which lead to my experience with twitter.
I have been following it since the start because I got aware of co-founder Evan Williams years ago when he mentioned a service I made on his blog. Evan Williams made the utterly successful blogger.com, the not so successful odeo.com and now the maybe-becoming-utterly-successful Twitter.com.
Twitter is a service that people tend to love or hate. I can’t say I have been hating it, but it has taken me more than a year to understand why and how I should use it. Slowly, I get the idea and now I have decided to start using Twitter more. At least for a while.
You can use twitter the way it’s suggested on the page. “What are you doing?”. Let me see… There. I have now updated twitter. It took me about five seconds. Now it says: “writing a blog post about twitter”. If you’re a fan of my blog it could be slightly interesting to know what I am working on. But most of the time you would find it utterly boring what I was doing. And I think the people that hate twitter get confused by that suggestion on the page. “What are you doing?”.
So what got me from “why the hell would I use twitter?” to “I have decided to start using Twitter more”?
First of all, Mr. Solstad. When he got back from a conference saying: “at conferences twitter is very useful”. And I can understand that. It works like some kind of group SMS. When all your friends are on twitter you can use it to keep track of where people are going. What restaurant to meet at. What speakers that suck and which sessions to attend. At conferences there’s a buzz going on twitter. A combination of public messages and direct messages.
So I decided to follow twitter when I went to Bucharest to speak at NetCamp. And yes, tech savvy people at conferences use twitter. It was interesting to follow in real time what reactions people had to the conference and so on.
I also had the privilege of talking quite a bit to Mr. Hugh MacLeod. An avid twitter user and a person that use the service in a very clever way. He has more than 2300 followers on twitter and could tell me that when he visits a city for the first time he simply twitters “I’m in city nn, anyone that knows a good restaurant?”. Usually lots of suggestions chimes in.
Okay, so that’s something that works when you have 2300 followers. Right now I have slightly more than 20. But I know how powerful a tool like that can be. My blog has enough readers around the world to give me answers to all kinds of strange questions. But how do you get 2300 followers on twitter?
That was one of the parts that took me a bit of time to figure out. But it is obvious. You do it exactly the same way you get thousands of people visiting your blog each week. By sharing interesting thoughts, quality links, amusing stuff etc. And by taking part of conversations.
I have been following Hugh MacLeod on twitter for a while and he does this thing brilliantly. A combination of interesting thoughts and some regular “What are you doing?”-messages. It seems like it works like a draft for his blog. And it’s interesting to follow how he slowly builds a new blog post often based on thoughts shared on twitter first.
So if you want to take part in my experiment, then follow me.
And of course, post your suggestions, people to follow and thoughts in the comments.