is twitter really useful?

March 4, 2009 marlafederman

twitter-birdI was recently instructed to set up a Twitter account for a public relations class as a way to start building my social media footprint. When I first starting tweeting, or posting updates on twitter I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this social network was. Now I understand why Twitter is such a useful tool. However, I do think that Twitter is a bit noisy. Noisy meaning that there is a lot of pointless information being passed around Twitter, mainly personal updates. The idea of people being able to tweet every random thought and give an update each hour what you are doing is annoying and unnecessary. I mean, no offence but who cares what you ate for breakfast, or that you have a lot of homework or that you are stuck in traffic? I know that sounds insensitive, but there are probably few people who are actually interested in what you are doing each hour of the day. Having people constantly updating their status on Facebook is enough. If I really am dying to know what my friend is doing I will call them. I think Twitter would be a better tool without all of the extra useless chatter.

Aside from all the nonsense updating, I think that Twitter is a great tool that has a lot to offer everyone. Twitter is a great tool for networking and making new contacts within your field of interest. I think Twitter is also a great place to discover new information. People are constantly posting, or tweeting interesting links to all sorts of things like an article they found intriguing or a breaking news story. Twitter is a great tool for circulating information and ideas. Some people will post job and internship opportunities on Twitter, which is very helpful for students who are graduating soon.

Another rather unique way that Twitter is being used is to provide live updates of events that would otherwise be difficult to come by. The Baja 1000 off-road racing event is an example using Twitter to connect fans of off-road racing with live updates. Jason Falls tweeted from his mobile phone to provide coverage and communication about this event.  The Baja 1000 is a racing event that takes place in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and the race usually run 18-26 hours, so a televised report of this race would be rather difficult. The fact that people can send Twitter updates via a mobile phone makes Twitter a very convenient tool, especially for the Baja 1000 race.

Though many people have caught on to the many ways that Twitter can be used to their advantage and to the advantage of others, some people are still missing the point. Back in September a reporter, Berny Morson, used Twitter to provide coverage of a three-year-old child’s funeral. News organizations have been using Twitter to provide coverage of political conventions and sporting events, but a funeral? Come on have some respect. A funeral is a very private event and the reporter had no right publicizing it. In another case surgeons used Twitter to post live updates during an operation to remove a kidney tumor. Again, extremely unnecessary, and maybe illegal? Surgery is very personal and people have the right to expect that if they are having an operation that the details of that operation will remain confidential. You can’t just post updates on Twitter about a surgery. First, that is personal. And second, ewww. Who wants a play-by-play update of surgery anyway?

These examples illustrate the importance of knowing what is appropriate to post on Twitter and what is not. When in doubt, don’t tweet anything that wouldn’t be televised. 

 

Image from Google Images

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