When people who don’t use Twitter talk about Twitter, I usually get annoyed. The idea that Twitter is only about what you’re doing (i.e. eating lunch, watching a movie, taking a dump, etc.) is a misconception propagated only by those who haven’t really used the tool.
Explaining what Twitter truly is can be difficult, and it’s not because the technology behind it is complex. In fact, the actual practice of sending a tweet is easy. People often cannot grasp the concept behind Twitter because what comes with it is a language that might seem odd and crazy. More importantly, Twitter has its own culture which isn’t exactly the same as other social networking sites and which may seem counter-intuitive to someone new to the platform.
This misconception is especially true amongst people who are loyal to Facebook. I often hear people say that Twitter is a toned down version of Facebook, that it’s all about posting a status . Well, that’s partly true. But it’s also half a lie. It doesn’t really tell the whole story.
It’s not you, it’s me.
If Twitter is not about your mundane activities, then what it is about? And how is it different from Facebook?
From my experience, Facebook is more about being self-centered. Posting a status, we literally answer the question “What’s on your mind”. If you’d like to get “likes” and comments on Facebook, you usually need to be doing something really, really cool, or you need to be saying something super witty.
Twitter is sort of like that, too. But it’s more.The most successful Twitter users are usually those who retweet other people’s stuff. They reply to others. They tweet about other people’s content. They share valuable and timely information. In short, they talk about themselves, but they’re also more than willing to help out.
And I think that’s the difference. Facebook is about you; Twitter is not. It’s about others. It’s about what you can offer to help out. It’s about establishing your credibility and then paying it forward.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wha?
Ok, let me just add one caveat that this whole blog post is a generalization. I’m not suggesting that all heavy Facebook users are selfish, self-centered creatures. It’s also a mistake to think of all Twitter users as helpful, networking-savvy beings. My thoughts here simply reflect my personal experience with both media and what I’ve seen from most of my Facebook friends and from the people who seem to be thriving on Twitter.
If you’re new on Twitter, this is all you need to know: You only get out of it what you put in. Yes, it’s that simple. So go out there, have fun, help others, and tweet your hearts out!
As a networking tool, what do you think are some of the differences between Twitter and Facebook? Do you approach the two media differently? Leave a comment and discuss.