I signed up with Twitter over a year ago, but didn't start using it until April 26th, 2008 at 4:40pm. Twitter is huge right now, and even with its more frequent down time lately, it doesn't seem to be discouraging people from jumping on board. But a lot of people who aren't using ask me, "Why bother? What's the benefit? Isn't it just one more thing for me to do?" My answer is typically, "It's fun, can be entertaining/encouraging, and not really." Twitter works like a mini blog that only serves to tell people what you are doing/thinking about at the moment. "Tweets" (posts) are limited to 140 characters. So you get a few sentences to share your thoughts. So, what's the big deal? Like I said, many (not all) find it fun to share the small parts of their lives with others. And at least for me it isn't time consuming. Once you're connected to Twitter with your cell phone updates take about 60 seconds and can include a photo. In my limited experience so far, I have found Twitter to be both fun and encouraging. How?
1. It let's people into your world. That church members and friends can peek into my day and see where I am, what I am doing or what I am thinking about (if I choose to say) is a good thing. From the discovery of 20 year old tees in the attic, to talking Jesus and politics at the cigar shop, I hear that people appreciate it.
2. It can facilitate in the immediate dissemination of information. On the day Jen was delivering our third child I kept the world updated via Twitter. Well, not the world, but many parts of it. Her family in Germany and people from church were particularly happy to follow the live updates. For the record, Jen was all for it and the "tweeting" did not get in the way of the experience itself.
Ed Stetzer is using Twitter to keep people informed about who's wearing what at the SBC. He's like a male version of Joan Rivers on the red carpet. AND, he's keeping us informed with all the actions being taken by the Convention.
3. It allows you to get immediate feedback. People often post quarries via Twitter. Michael Hyatt once asked about the best services to check a website in various browsers. He got a lot of feedback and found what he needed.
4. It can be educational and encouraging. Following a million people on Twitter will result in you missing some good posts. But only following four people will probably leave you scratching your head about the usefulness of Twitter as well. If you follow the right people you can have more than a fun 5 minutes of distraction when you read through the updates. You can learn something, be inspired or find encouragement. I follow a few runners, some friends, a number of pastors and a few true gurus/experts. In sharing their experiences and thoughts in 140 characters or less each time I often encounter words that really do matter. Even in what may seem like trivia, there can be instruction.
So I Twitter. For now. Maybe it'll last a few more months. Maybe longer. But for now - it's profitable and fun. More could be said about Twitter: as accountability/motivation, as community group tool, and more. But I'd be interested in hearing about your experience. If you use it - why? What has your experience been?