I find myself trying to explain Twitter’s value to others too often. Poolside, courtside, beachside, inside, outside – I always hear about the downside of Twitter. The downside being that there are twits on Twitter that tweet the minutia of their lives. I’ll get questions like, “Why do I care if The Beeb has a new haircut?” If you don’t care, don’t follow The Beeb. It’s pretty simple.
I’ve given them examples of how I’ve found Twitter useful in times of disaster (i.e., connecting a still-functional hospital with media outlets after the earthquake in Haiti), doing research on anything from vacation spots to technology trends, and even figuring out which food truck has the shortest line.
Why would anyone care about lines at food trucks? Because knowing which food truck has the best food and the shortest line has VALUE to ME. Still, they question the entire concept of Twitter.
Last night, I found myself giving the same examples to a group that ranged in age from a high school senior to parents in their mid to late 50s. They still weren’t “getting it.” I gave the analogy that being on Twitter is like having your own radio station or magazine. Tweeters broadcast or publish without knowing who is listening or reading.
The light bulb went off for the group when I asked if they question the entire concept of magazines because there are magazines they don’t choose to purchase (no value to them). If they buy Atlantic, Esquire, and Time magazines, do they question the value of their magazines because US, People, and the National Enquirer are on the same magazine stand? No, they don’t. Ding.
In reality, I’m not a Twitter evangelist trying to convert people to Twitter-users. I’m simply trying to get them past the misunderstanding that the point of the tool is to let people know what you’re eating for lunch or what you think of your coffee each morning. Magazines (or radio stations for that matter) – the analogy works.
So, if you’re having the same conversations I’m having, feel free to borrow, modify, and improve on it.