Friday, 7 December 2012

A newbies thoughts on Twitter

I'll admit I wasn't a Twitter person until about 2 months ago when someone had to step up to the plate and pick up the Friends of Kananaskis twitter feed given the imminent departure of our program coordinator (recall that I am a Director of the Friends).

Being a smart guy about these things, rather than screw up the Friends twitter feed with newbie mistakes, I decided to create my own Twitter feed, and "practice" there. Tweeting's not hard, but it does involve a rather unnecessarily complex vocabulary all its own.

So I have now started tweeting as the Friends of Kananaskis, too. And I have learned much about tweeting.

First, Twitter really boils down to "producers" of tweets, and "consumers" of tweets. As myself, I consume tweets. I consume the tweets of my ski area to see how much snow there has been and what runs are open. I consume the tweets of the road reports and the avalanche forecasts. I consume the tweets of my local papers.

As the Friends tweeter, I produce tweets that my followers (consumers) want to see, including hiking and mountain biking condition reports and current weather information. I re-tweet information my followers will care about if they don't follow the reports of the avalanche and public safety guys.

As myself, I could give a hoot about the latest ramblings of Lindsay Lohan (a producer of tweets). As the Friends tweeter, I could give a hoot about Lindsay Lohan, because we're in the hiking trail maintenance business, and Ms. Lohan is in the "get into trouble" business.

So key Twitter learning #1: understand if your a producer or consumer of tweets. Act accordingly.

Second, I find Tweets MUCH less interactive than Facebook. MANY Facebook status updates could be tweets, but Facebook is far more interactive about the way we deal with those posts (note: the Friends has a Facebook account which I will also soon control). I can ignore a Tweet or Facebook post. But if I care to comment on, or enter into a debate on, said information, it is MUCH easier to do so on Facebook than Twitter.

Third, Twitter's main value is its immediacy. But you need to continuously follow your Twitter feed constantly in order to benefit from that immediacy. Examples:

  • I get to the ski hill, and a section is closed for avalanche control (I knew that would be the case from the morning Snow Safety tweet I read at breakfast). I ski a bit. Then I learn that that closed section is now open and dozens have been in. They found out because they saw it open. But at least one person came a'running because he saw the tweet that it was open. Well, I don't look at the twitter feed on the ski hill (but obviously, some skiers do). So unless I'm monitoring the feed, the producer's info isn't available to me as the consumer.
  • I am driving to Calgary and "on the road". The AMA road report tweets that the road is closed/blocked for weather/accident (great, immediate info about a traffic snarl I could avoid). But I drive right up to and am stuck in the traffic jam, because I can't access the immediate tweet unless my iPhone or computer is on the Twitter feed continuously (while I'm driving, which happens to be illegal where I live).

So Twitter's an interesting idea, but I'm really struggling to see the value, unless you have nothing better to do than sit on the feed and watch it all day long. I have 6 followers, the Friends have 56. Perhaps the reason that the Friends of Kananaskis don't have a lot of followers is because whomever set up the Twitter account spelled Kananaskis wrong.

I'm just glad that no one will live or die based on the info in the Friends tweets.


Edwin said...

Would have been nice if you had mentioned your twitter handle as well..

RyderDA said...

Good point. @RyderDAR. The Friends of Kananaskis one is @Kananskisdotorg

I'm curious since you have a lot of followers and follow lots of people, what utility you get from Twitter.