I first signed up for Twitter in the beginning of 2008 and enthusiasticly jumped into the conversation. However, I quickly became frustrated by the limit of 140 characters and frequent appearance of the now infamous fail whale. My commitment to frequently checking Twitter and posting tweets quickly faded. But, my interest in the concept of Twitter remained. I randomly reinvigorated my curiosity and returned to investigate how things were going in the Twittersphere. Then I started reading about the numerous Twitter-based applications entering the marketplace.
Since I posted my first tweet over a year ago the site has grown at an astonishing rate. Between February 2008 and February 2009 the unique audience that visits the site has increased by 1,382% according the Neilson Online. (Read more at Mashable.com.) In addition, the site has become much more stable during this time and sightings of the fail whale are decreasing. Twitter is rapidly becoming part of our everyday information and communications channels.
So, brings me back to my original question: Who should tweet and why?
The simple answer to that is anyone with information to share. However, I think the better is anyone who has information to share that will add value to the community. This of course raises the question of what information has value to the community. My answer to that question is the ever ambiguous it depends. And, this brings us to the same argument that can be raised with spam and junk mail in email and postal mail. Of course there are many sides and opinions in this debate.
The interesting thing with Twitter is the collective community answers the question of value through their actions. Each individual decides which Twitter users he or she finds interesting and follows them. Twitter users who post interesting and valuable information get rewarded with lots of followers. Users who post boring, senseless, useless, offensive, or otherwise bad information do not get followers and can get blocked from following other users.
That brings me to another point – Twitter is not just a place to post your information, it is also a place to learn. Some people participate in the conversations by sharing information and others by reading, digesting, and learning. Personally, I use Twitter to share information that I find interesting and hope others do too and to gather information. The interesting thing about Twitter is that not only can you read news headlines – you can see what people are saying about the news real time. This has gained momentum with recent events, such as the elections in Iran and the deaths of Senator Edward M Kennedy and pop singer Michael Jackson.
Back to my mother's question, should she “Twitter, too”? The only thing I can say is it depends.