Ok, so I started using Twitter about two months ago, and at the time it seemed like my Facebook friends (especially my wedding vendor buddies) were interested in finding out my thoughts once I had a handle on it. Perhaps that's changed, but I'm going to give them anyway. Enjoy! Just so you know, I'm very tech-savvy but I'm not an "early adopter" when it comes to technology. Especially web technology, and especially social networking. I just started a blog for my company in May. I run a very successful (and time consuming) business, and I have a tendency to get hooked on something new and waste my very limited time on it instead of being productive. To combat this tendency, I won't join a site or sign up for a service unless I can see a clear picture of how it will benefit my business.
I didn't join MySpace until late 2007, and I deleted my page a few months ago - that was a "time gobbler" for me. I joined LinkedIn in 2008, that seemed to have real promise at the time... now nobody really uses it. I like the idea, but it seems better for finding a job or for finding new employees - not really applicable to the wedding and events industry. I resisted the urge to join Facebook until December of 2008, despite my lovely and talented wife, Jennifer, insisting that it was fun and had a practical business application. I had only seen her use Facebook for playing Scrabble and SuperPoke and didn't see much use. Despite my initial objection, it actually has had a practical business application and I've been able to connect with a lot of my wedding vendor pals and stay in touch on a regular basis. To me, that makes it worth it.
I had strongly resisted joining Twitter for about a year until I joined in June. I understood the whole concept of micro-blogging, I just couldn't think of any possible reason that the general public needed to know what I had for lunch. I hadn't really seen any practical application for it in terms of business -- at least not one like mine -- until I attended Liene Stevens' Blogging Bootcamp in Washington, DC. Liene is, by all accounts, the top social media expert in the wedding and events industry and has two highly successful blogs and legions of devoted followers. If anyone was going to convince me that Twitter wasn't stupid, it would be her -- and she did!
Lesson 1: Twitter and Facebook are Totally Different
Shocker alert! It's true. Facebook is great at relationships -- finding old friends, planning happy hour, seeing what your jerk brother-in-law is up to. Twitter, on the other hand, is great at disseminating information quickly -- see the Iran Election saga and the death of Michael Jackson. They are totally different platforms and are good for two totally different things. My resistance to Twitter was a result of assuming that it was similar to Facebook and that I'd simply be doubling my status updates on a second platform. In truth, using Twitter to update my Facebook status has resulted in no extra "work," other than having to keep up with the same conversation in two different platforms.
Lesson 2: Twitter and Facebook Have Different Users
Another shocker! Not everyone is on both platforms. A lot of tech-forward users have abandoned Facebook entirely for Twitter, and plenty of people on Facebook refuse to use Twitter (which can be appropriate, I'll explain later). I can see the Facebook-leaving folks' point -- Facebook is slowly moving from a groundbreaking, innovative social medium to an annoying wasteland of unparalleled stupidity like MySpace did. For examples, please refer to the "Which Brand of Soda are You?" quiz and anything in the LivingSocial App. Facebook is way more annoying now, even since I joined in December. Will Twitter ever kill Facebook? No. Not unless Twitter changes its entire business model (if it even has one) and becomes a less-annoying version of Facebook. Otherwise, Facebook can only kill itself by becoming so annoying that people stop using it. The fact that there are people on Twitter that I couldn't reach on Facebook was one of the main reasons I decided to try Twitter.
Lesson 3: Nobody Cares.
Well, sort of. Here's the thing... Facebook is great for connecting with friends and colleagues and people who you are actually associated with. Twitter, on the other hand, is great for connecting with people who you aren't associated with - at least not yet.
Here's an analogy - Facebook is like having a party in your house and inviting your friends. You can talk to everyone at some point one-on-one, group discussions will develop, and if somebody has something important to say, they can clink a glass and get everyone's attention for a minute.
Twitter is like having a giant party in the parking lot at a stadium. Nobody is really invited, they just show up (or not) and yell in the general direction of whoever they like or whoever has something interesting to say. Everyone is yelling, all at the same time, but only a handful of people are listening to you. The more interesting you seem to be, the more people will listen to you and interact with you -- but you'll never be able to get everyone's attention because the party's too big. If you don't have something interesting to say, people will just walk away and go find someone else to listen to -- nobody will "follow" you. The great thing about this party, though, is that so many different people are there that you can get connected to someone you might not ever meet otherwise -- industry leaders, media personalities, decision-makers, and all sorts of other people you normally wouldn't have any type of access to. There aren't the same type of privacy barriers on Twitter that there are on Facebook, so everything is publicly visible unless otherwise specified (except direct messages). If you yell in his general direction, Shaquille O'Neal might just holla' back at you... it's that kind of party.
Lesson 4: Twitter Isn't for Everyone
This may or may not be a shocker -- if you think that Twitter would be a waste of time for you, you are probably right. For a "normal" person like my mom (who just joined Facebook), there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to use Twitter. If you run a business, write for a blog or a magazine, are running for elected office, or are doing anything else where you're generating interesting content to be absorbed by (or sold to) the public, Twitter can be very useful. That means that 95% of Facebook users can safely stay there and won't miss anything important by not posting on Twitter. You can still read someone's Twitter feed even if you don't have an account. Heck, you can even subscribe to their Twitter feed via RSS just like a blog.
Simply put, Liene was right. Twitter has been very useful in helping me find and develop relationships with some key industry people, keep up with a handful of my pals who aren't on Facebook, and has even landed me a couple paying customers. Facebook is still great for keeping me connected to my friends and business associates, and my mom. The solution? I use both. I use the "Selective Twitter" app on Facebook, which pulls my Twitter status and updates my Facebook status automatically, as long as I add a little "#fb" hash at the end of my Tweet. My followers on Twitter react and I can talk to them, and my Facebook friends do the same thing. I have Twitterberry and Facebook Mobile on my Blackberry, so I can keep tabs on everything from the road. Overall, I really like both Facebook and Twitter, and will use both until one of them becomes too annoying or loses all of its users (like MySpace).
Hopefully that helps, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. Also, you can use the links on the left to become our fan on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. See you out there!