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Five reasons why everyone (even moms) should be on Twitter…by Julie Marsh

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Thanks for Julie Marsh of The Mom Slant for sharing her thoughts about Twitter………..

I’m not what you’d call an early adopter. I got my first cell phone as a safety precaution on my grad school commute through the sketchier parts of SE Washington DC. I joined Facebook in 2007, but deactivated my account shortly afterward and only recently reactivated it. I don’t own an iPhone or a Blackberry. I have accounts with BrightKite and Plurk, but I don’t use them.

I finally jumped on board with Twitter after reading secondhand the JnJ Camp Baby tweets about pelvic floors and vaginal prolapse and hair braiding. More than any other social media platform (besides blogging, of course), I’ve embraced Twitter. It’s so simple, and yet it’s so powerful.

Here’s how I use Twitter – and why everyone (even moms) ought to be using it too:

To get news first

I was literally writing this post when I first heard about Michael Jackson’s death via Twitter at 2:45pm PDT yesterday while MSNBC was still reporting only that he had been rushed to the hospital. It was nearly 20 minutes later that MSNBC first mentioned the TMZ report. At 3:21pm PDT, MSNBC reported that according to the LA Times, Jackson had died. His official time of death was 2:26pm PDT. Social media scoops old school journalism.

More importantly, the news I get via Twitter is the news that’s most interesting to me. That’s because I follow people who interest me, and the articles they tweet are almost always ones that I want to read. Sure, I’d probably find most of them on my own, but Twitter helps distill the glut of news into a manageable stream.

Sometimes the news is personally useful. When I tweeted last Friday that I was making homemade chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I received a reply alerting me to the Nestle’s recall. My own tweet was on the frivolous side, but if I hadn’t overshared we might have spent Sunday’s triathlon camped out in the port-a-johns.

To get news that’s otherwise unavailable

The recent events in Iran have been documented in far greater detail by demonstrators inside the country than by any news organization, and the protesters are getting the word out via social media – primarily Twitter. The role of Twitter in the dissemination of information has been both vital and unprecedented, publicizing protest organization sites (including Where Is My Vote?, Why We Protest – IRAN, and Green Revolution) and video footage from the streets of Iran. What’s being accomplished via Twitter – where cable news outlets have failed – is truly amazing.

To make connections

While many of us on Twitter have a blog or business that’s the basis of our online interaction, a website certainly isn’t a prerequisite for using Twitter productively. Nor is it necessary to immediately have legions of followers. Start by following people who interest you – news sources, journalists, politicians, even celebrities – and they’ll lead you to people who share your views and interests. There’s a big world out there beyond your geographic boundaries; explore it, if only virtually.

To send a message

I wasn’t yet on Twitter when I posted about the Camp Baby invitation/dis-invitation debacle, but in the wake of the subsequent and similar Fishful Thinking backlash and the Motrin Moms outpouring, I realized the power inherent in Twitter. We’ve faced backlash against us for our responses in these situations, but the fact remains that an outlet exists where more immediate attention can be gained than by calling the customer service line or writing an angry letter. But as with all forms of social media (adolescent MySpace users, I’m looking at you), it’s important to wield that power wisely and consider carefully before hitting Enter.

Twitter is also an ideal way to spread the word about what you love. Granted, warm and fuzzy tweets can be suspect – “was she paid to say that?” – but just like with personal blog posts, it’s fairly easy to tell when someone is sincere.,, and each new iteration of the iPhone have all been tweeted prominently. I’ve tweeted about and, in particular the Born shoes that I’d been eyeing at retail and got on RueLaLa for half-price, generating several replies from others who love Born.

To be entertained

Celeb gossip is rarely my thing, but I have to admit it’s hilarious to see what kind of damage a celebrity can do with a Twitter account. I follow a couple colorful personalities (Penn Jillette and Meghan McCain), but for really good trainwreck-watching, check out Kirstie Alley and Miley Cyrus. Plenty of regular joes are entertaining too. Aimee turned me on to @badbanana, who’s got a dry sense of humor that I love. Watch for #FollowFriday recommendations too; it’s a great way to find new people to follow.

It takes talent to make people laugh, but it really takes talent to do it in 140 characters. Some of the best tweets still crack me up, and I’ve got them saved in my favorites. Some of the exchanges on Twitter that made me laugh the hardest are the ones that I merely witnessed after the fact, like #cathyandersonandherwhiteteeth. With others, I jump into the fray and later find it documented in a post. It’s like having a group chat where nobody ever gets interrupted and everybody gets a chance to chime in.

Of course Twitter has its share of “what I ate for breakfast” tweets (interestingly, it’s the celebs who’ve cornered the market on these inanities), but the solution is easy: Don’t follow people who don’t interest you. Instead, focus on the people and news sources that enrich your day. They’re out there.

How long have you been on Twitter? What do you like best about it? If you’re not on Twitter yet, did I change your mind about it?

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  • comment avatar JoAnn July 31, 2009

    I’ve been a part of Twitter since February 2009, so I’m a relative-newbie.

    I joined Twitter kicking and screaming, and it took a while for me to really “get it.” But, once I did, I wondered what took me so long! In fact, the other day I was just thinking to myself how much I’ve learned by being on it! There is this whole other world that exists, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

    I’m @casualperfect, so if you see me around, say “Hi!”

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson July 31, 2009

    Wow, what an inspiring post about…Twitter? Funny how it’s grown. I’m continually annoyed by the spammers but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. I, too held on on becoming a part of it but really delved in last fall and love it.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver July 31, 2009

    These are terrific reasons, and I second each of them.

    I’ve been on since BlogHer08, just over a year. I used to read each and every tweet in my stream, but now, I follow way too many people to do so. I use TweetDeck to manage now.

    The best advice you have is to follow only people who are likely to interest you.

    I’m @BestLight.

  • comment avatar Kagey July 31, 2009

    I’m still dragging my feet on Twitter. I waste too much time everyday on things like FB, so I’ve been trying to figure out why tweeting is worth my time? This post makes it sound tempting.

    I guess part of the appeal is the mobility? I don’t have to be online to “follow” these folks. Those of you who tweet – do you ever find yourself too distracted by multitasking when you’re trying to get other things done? Other than the cookie dough recall, can you cite other times Tweet was more than entertainment?

    Just Curious! Build the case that I should hope on the bandwagon!

  • comment avatar Melissa Taylor July 31, 2009

    I love Twitter so much I have to limit myself – it’s now an addiction. So many posts are things I want to read, and learn.

    I’m @ImaginationSoup – for my parenting related tweets and @MelissaWrites for my writing related tweets.

    I love saying tweets but I hate saying tweeple. Maybe it will grow on me.



  • comment avatar Mama Bird July 31, 2009

    I’ve been on Twitter since March ’09 & though it took me awhile to get the hang of it, I’m now addicted. While many FaceBook is fun, it really isn’t great for conversation – too many lurkers. Twitter though, is all about joining in!

    Kagey, a Twitter friend (@casualperfect) first alerted me to the Southwest bid for Frontier, which personally affects my family, through Twitter. I was then able to go to Twitter and get all the latest on it hours before it hit the TV or radio. While it was quite amazing to find out about MJ’s death the same way, there is more to Twitter than entertainment. There are serious Tweeters out there putting out all kinds of information on a range of topics. You pick what interests you. However, it can also be distracting if you let it be. You are in charge of how much you participate. Hope that helps!

    I’m @chriscbird.

  • comment avatar Beckie August 3, 2009

    Twitter has been a pleasant surprise for me. Several opportunities have been created for my blog and the business whom I tweet for. I love going on Twitter and learning about new websites and interesting conversations! Twitter is quick and to the point and FUN!

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