Penny Arcade gets it.
I think the most important things I’ve learned from the course, I’ve learned about Twitter.
Twitter is an intimidating beast. On the one hand, there’s an immense amount of data being processed and syndicated every moment of every day, from celebrities, news outlets, individuals, and more. On the other hand, an individual’s contribution is limited to 140 characters. Without an understanding of what Twitter is, it seems like it would be difficult to be heard, let alone make an impact.
On Twitter, users are given 160 characters to describe themselves, and that’s it. Unlike Facebook, a user is defined by the conversations they engage in, not what they decide to post about themselves in their “About Me” section. Unless you know how to actively engage other users, people will know nothing about you, and they won’t be inclined to care. Twitter isn’t a network of people, it’s a network of conversations. People don’t search for other people on Twitter, they search for topics of interest (at least, if they want to participate in a conversation).
HootSuite and TweetDeck have been instrumental in helping me get involved in (and making sense of) all the data. WIth the rare exception, no one is going to make a splash on Twitter the day after they sign up. Knowing how to navigate through the conversation and understand what people care about is crucial to knowing how to engage with others meaningfully.