My friends, family, and colleagues are frequently asking me why I do Twitter. Or to be honest, when I ask if they are on Twitter, their response is less than enthusiastic.
In fact, the most frequent response I get is either
- Rolling of the eyes, OR
- “I don’t need to tell people what I had for lunch yesterday.”
Why does this concern me? I reckon I’m more surprised than concerned. Surprised that my friends think that I am vain enough to join a social network just so I can let people know what I’ve had to eat. Yelp aside, I rarely use Twitter for this. Although I do not judge those you take pictures of their food, then post it (Yes, I do judge YOU). Most of my shock comes from the fact that many in my close circle of friends and family are IT professionals. Mind you, this isn’t just my dad who doesn’t get it – although he has an iPhone, so he’s not totally behind the curve thank goodness.
I wanted to spend a few minutes this morning to be completely honest with myself about why I choose to put so much of my personal life online for others. And I suppose if I choose to cheerlead for Twitter or Yelp going forward, I can now have a URL to forward people as well…
I originally signed on to Twitter because I was morbidly curious. You can only hear something about 1,000,000x before you are tempted to check it out for yourself. But let me be clear, the reason I joined primarily was for a very selfish reason – I wanted to get myself out ‘There.’ I’ve spent the past decade helping Toad users answer questions about their favorite database tool. I thought maybe here’s another medium I can access to help people.
But wait, you said you joined for a selfish reason?
Yes, by helping others I help myself. The more people I help, the more people I can rely on for the casual favors I ask for, or even for the recommendations I’ll need to pursue my next job or career. It’s as simple as that.
I have seen some side effects however, and all of them have been positive:
- Meet great new people @SQLChicken, @OracleNerd>, @JulesDC
- Open up opportunities for me to present at user groups and conferences
- Learn more about technology I don’t have the time to do research first-hand, #SQLHELP (SQL Server)
- Interact with people way smarter than me
- Politely ‘stalk’ my favorite internet celebrities, @CraigyFerg, @CaliLewis
- Open up opportunities for me at my current employer
- Make more $$$. Yes, I am motivated by cash.
This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully this is enough for folks to begin to understand what I get from being on Twitter. Actually, let’s put this more accurately:
This what I get from being ACTIVE on Twitter.
It’s not enough to just BE on a social media forum. But, that’s a whole other topic, and others have put it way more eloquently than I ever could.
Why do I do Yelp? Pretty much for just two reasons
- It’s good practice for my writing skills.
- I use it as a travel/restaurant diary.
I’m already discovering other great benefits by actively participating. I’ve been invited to join an elite group of Yelpers, and I hear that could get me into restaurant openings and exclusive parties. There’s nothing wrong with getting asked to have a good time with others that share your common interests!
This is very simple – I actually think there are a few people out there that actually care what I think. And maybe, just maybe, I can help a few people along the way.
Which brings me to my final point.
I’m a social person, and I like people.
I could never convince someone that their cubicle-lifestyle is not ideal. If you don’t like interacting with people and meeting new types of folks and seeing how ‘the other side’ lives, then maybe these social networks just aren’t for you. But, if you really like Facebook/LinkedIn/Farmville, and are wondering if you’re missing out on something, don’t snicker so loudly next time I ask you what your handle on Twitter is, OK?