About a week ago, I was a bit bored and decided to see what Twitter is all about. I created an account, and I Tweeted for a week. I tried to keep to the original idea, where a Tweet should answer the question “What are you doing”? Looking back, my tweets include Coffee, Podcasts, Global frustration, Small joys, Small irritations, Re-tweets, and Replies.
Twitter is a service were you can send short texts of 140 characters or less, called “tweets”. These texts end up on a webpage, resulting in a micro-blog for all to read. Think of it as SMS-ing to your blog. One of the fun parts of Twitter is that people find really creative ways to express themselves in 140 characters or less. This allows you to follow an amazing amount of people, getting short messages about what they’re doing, such as “is relaxing with the wife and kids….. at home” or “Great meal at Michael Minna with my best gal”.
|Should you find a “Tweet” you think is interesting, you can reply to that person (not to the tweet directly) by starting your tweet with an “@” and the username of the person you want to reply to.|
|You can even “tag” your Tweets by using a “#” and a word. So for instance “#rolfje” would add the tag “rolfje” to my Tweet. You can then easily search tweets with this tag. Tags are sometimes used to create something of a “communications channel”. For instance, the #followfriday tag is used to tweet about people you think are worth following.|
Starting in the US, Twitter is becoming increasingly popular all over the world, now taking over Europe. BBC had an item on English television about twitter, massively increasing the number of English twitterers.
And ofcourse, where there are people, there are money-sharks to spoil the fun. Some companies are showing up, and are clearly not understanding what Twitter is about. They start a twitter account and twitter promotional messages, product releases, etc. The problem with this (for the company) is that for this to be succesful, people must follow you. If there’s nothing interesting to read, people will not follow.
This same problem occurs with people who have their staff update their twitter accounts. This makes for really uninteresting, unpersonal tweets, and replying to them will almost never result in a nice conversation.
What I used:
During my Tweetweek, I tried different OSX and iPhone clients. There are a lot of clients out there, but none of them are good enough to be your “single client of choice”. Here’s what I think of them, in short:
Twhirl: Done in Adobe AIR, multi-platform and consistent accross OS’s. Good for a Windows app, terrible for an OSX app. Settings are in strange places, not clear what the “narrow” column mode is for. Ugly but probably the best twitter client out there, with twitpic and tinyurl integration all out of the box.
Tweetdeck: Also done in Adobe AIR, mutli-platform and consistent. Works fine, has multiple columns for monitoring your tweets, search results and profiles. Feels a bit funny, for instance the same icon is used for “show input window” and “send tweet”. It works, but it doesn’t fit the “clean and simple” design I think a twitter client needs.
Twitterific: Nice design, clean. Not much features, too overpriced. If Twitterific had tinyURL and twitpic integration, and sold for about $5, it would be a huge hit.
Tweetie (iPhone): The funny thing is that “Tweetie”, the iPhone twitter client is way better than any of the clients I tried on a normal computer. Tweetie wins hands down. The best twitter client for the iPhone, simple and clean, camera integration, GPS integration. This also fits way better in the twitter philosophy, Tweeting whatever you are doing, wherever you are.
What I learned:
Twitter is for everyday people, like you and me, and feels like a mix between CB radio and texting. Twitter is all about you and who you follow. It’s definetely not about your followers. Ofcourse you can try to get as much followers as possible, but I think that does not guarantee a nice twitter experience. Some people think it’s rude not to follow back if they’re followed, and will tweet to let somebody know that they’re being “un-followed”. I think that’s not how the system is supposed to work. There’s also no real relationship. Follow or unfollow, it’s not like you’re devorcing.
Just Tweet, and see what happens. There’s no currency, only small text messages from people around the world for you to read and reply to. Or not.