Twitter is the #1 cause of high blood pressure in America. Okay, I’m kidding. While there may not be an obvious link between Twitter and hypertension, I have noticed a correlation between mentioning the word “Twitter” and people demonstrating a look of confusion, irritation or outright fear.
Why are people so scared of Twitter? My theory is because it is nearly impossible to define—I mean really define. Sure, I can tell you that it is a micro blogging network that is awesome for real-time information, but what does that mean to the average person? I could say that it allows users to connect with like-minded people across the world. Now, that’s a little closer, but it still does not really create a clear picture of the network or, more importantly, how everyday people can use it.
If I were to explain Twitter in plain English, I would say that it is a social network that allows users to quickly express things that are important to them and connect with other people who value the same things. Notice the word “quickly”—you only get 140 characters. That means that people have to get to the point. Twitter, like all social networks, is an efficiency tool. That might sound funny, considering how many people become trapped in a black hole and throw away hours doing nothing but surfing sites like Facebook and Twitter. Think of it this way—a car can get you places faster than walking, only if you are not prone to random sightseeing prior to arriving at your destination. In other words, you have to have a plan and know where you are trying to go to be successful on any social-media site.
So, let’s apply this in everyday life. You can use Twitter to find a job, build business connections, research and connect with like-minded people.
- Use Twitter to find a job. According to MBA Online, over 8,000,000 Americans say that they got their current job through Twitter. If you are currently searching for employment, you can use Twitter to view job listings as there are many Twitter accounts dedicated to posting job listings submitted by recruiters. One such profile is @Microjobs. Additionally, you can connect with hiring managers and recruiters from specific firms and start to build relationships, but remember—ideally, you want to dig your well before you’re thirsty.
- Use Twitter to build business connections. Depending on your industry, you may be able to connect with peers, influencers and experts online. When MD Anderson Cancer Center hired me to come in to talk to their researchers about using social media, I showed them that many other researchers, experts and hospital officials were using the network. While it may not be appropriate for you to walk up to your VP and start a random conversation, you may find that he/she is on Twitter—it happens more than you think. Because they are likely not amazingly popular on the network, they’ll be tickled when you start to comment on their posts, share their posts and even start conversations with them. So, when it’s time for you to compete for a raise and you and your competition stand with all things being equal, do you think it would be beneficial for you to have an actual relationship with those in senior management?
- Use Twitter to research. You might be looking for information on a natural disaster that is happening now, a conference that is currently going on or a particular topic. Natural disasters often first break on Twitter. I don’t know why, but there is always someone on the brink of death—or running from it—who will take a few moments to tweet about it. News stations and newspapers often quote tweets now when they are covering a story that is currently unfolding. If you have a loved one in a danger area, Twitter is the best place to look for up-to-the-minute coverage. Simply use the Twitter search box to type in “Houston hurricane,” “National Left Footers Conference” or “hypertension” to get live updates and/or links to articles on a topic. The cool part is that you do not need to have a Twitter account to simply use the search function.
- Use Twitter to connect with like-minded people. Let’s say you absolutely love men in butterfly costumes—there is no better place in the world to go to find others with your passion than Twitter. Simply use the search box to find people who are talking about your interest. This can be professional, personal, a cause or even support groups for illnesses. Follow those people who are a good fit and start to send messages to them, comment on their posts and share resources.
Contrary to what you see your teenage niece posting—“OMG! My shoe brk 2day!”—Twitter really does have many practical purposes.