Why Twitter is SO Popular

You might have heard of Twitter, you might even be using it, you might even be an addict (like me).

If you have no idea what Twitter is, it’s basically a ‘microblogging’ service which allows you to push out small bite sized updates (no more than 140 characters). It started out as an SMS based service, but has really moved onto the data platform now with mobile clients improving and data plans becoming more affordable.

Twitter

If you’re interested you can read more on Wiki here and the CNET here. The best guide I’ve found is here – The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter.

My general thought it Twitter has struck at the right time, it’s brought back the spontaneous and fun nature of bloggers. Twitter has really exploded in Malaysia lately and well pretty much World wide (even though with @Oprah joining some say it’s the end..)

Then there was the whole CNN vs Ashton thing that went on and a whole bunch of other celebs jumping on the bandwagon.

Blogs have matured, they have gotten serious, correctly spelled, good grammar, nice pictures. Certain expectations have been nurtured.

  • I don’t post camera phone pics of food any more (and sometimes I miss that).
  • I don’t post one line posts about what I’m doing
  • I don’t post one liners with a picture I took casually
  • I don’t post just a couple of interesting URLs I found
  • I don’t post anything that I don’t feel is ‘high quality’

In a way this makes my blog less personal and more like a publication, but well that’s how I like it and I like to maintain the quality. I sometimes feel like having a second blog where I can just rant and post any old junk I like…but now I don’t need it because Twitter has given me back that power and more.

  • I can rant about being stuck in a traffic jam
  • I can post a crappy cameraphone picture of what I’m eating for lunch
  • I can share cool URLs I found
  • I can just simply tell people what I’m doing
  • I can converse with likeminded people on all kinds of topics (politics, music, movies, technology etc.)

That’s what makes Twitter such a versatile tool, it’s really what YOU make it. Twitter has returned the original pleasures of blogging in an informal more instantaneous format.

You could say, well there are already places for these things in blogs such as ‘Asides‘. I toyed with installed Asides on my blog a few times or some kind of “Short Talk” thing but it never really motivated me enough to do it.

You could say Tumblr is the solution, but I beg to differ. Tumblr is great and definitely extremely cool…but I personally find it quite useless.

Most Tumblr blogs are a jumble of quotes, pictures, articles and videos. It’s hard to process the information contained within and if you want to ‘follow’ someone you have to subcribe their RSS and then read their posts in the RSS reader or open a web page to read it (when it might just be one line) – that seems horribly inefficient to me.

Honestly speaking I think Tumblr has a limited lifespan.

Some people are discussing if Twitter is replacing RSS and I would firmly say NO it’s not. They are entirely different platforms.

I am still an avid RSS user and will continue to be, there’s no way Twitter can fulfill my requirements 100% when it comes to what RSS is delivered.

RSS is a pull mechanism, it lets me know when sites I am interested in update. Twitter is a push mechanism, I get told about sites I may or may not be interested in – either way I find stuff I wouldn’t normally see (somewhat like StumbleUpon, or del.icio.us but even more instant).

Google Reader

I adore Google Reader and couldn’t live without it. Which is another reason why Twitter is so popular, it’s not pushing anything away or replacing anything – it’s supplementing.

As for the opposite, how people follow me – I could well see Twitter overtaking, according to Feedburner I have 591 subscribers as of today and I have 276 Twitter Followers, which is almost half way there.

Which is interesting, people obviously favour easily digestible information (which I have written about before – diminishing attentions spans).

The other major reason Twitter is so popular is the amount of services and apps that have spawned around it, the popular examples being:

There are of course many more, those are just a sample of the popular ones plus there are those for specific platforms like WordPress plugins (I use Twitter Tools). If you want a really long list check here.

Then are the clients, once you use a proper Twitter client it will really change the way you use Twitter as you can effectively monitor, engage and influence. Twitter is about communicating not broadcasting, so to use it well you have to engage in conversations.

When using something like Tweetdeck that becomes easy (and addictive).

Tweetdeck

If you want to check out some of the top Twitter desktop clients I’d suggest:

Then on top of that you have a whole bunch of mobile clients for Twittering on the go, this is where the real fun comes in with Twitpic and mobile Tweeting.

All in all microblogging brings back the best parts of blogging without the baggage, I enjoy it again. There’s no pressure to perform, no expectations, no rules or bars – just put out what you want and people will hear it.

If they reply or Retweet or not is another matter entirely, but who cares? Just enjoy it.

And well, I think that’s enough reasons why Twitter is popular no? Remember to follow me @ShaolinTiger!

With my expertise displayed in this post, can I be a New Media Douchebag now?

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21 Responses to Why Twitter is SO Popular

  1. Mark Leo May 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Yeah Twitter is awesome, for example it was Twitter which broke the news of the recent earthquake in Italy and it was via Twitter which I think a lot of Malaysians followed yesterday’s news in Perak.

  2. suanie May 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    twitter is great. follow me at http://twitter.com/suanie ftw! :P

  3. eyeris May 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    @Suanie Follow ME at http://twitter.com/eyerizzz ftw! LOL.

    Shameless plugging aside, nice post. Though maybe I don’t feel that blogging is too serious yet, because I still keep MY blog as irreverent as ever. LOL.

  4. davidlian May 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Yeaps, I love twitter. For reasons which can be found on my blog (how ironic, using the blog to pimp Twitter).

  5. julian May 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    Ya I finally jumped on the bandwagon, and I can see the appeal – though one really needs to have the mobile aspect to get the full effect.

    do you know how to find out how much the mobile operator charges? Is it just usual SMS charges? Do you have to pay to receive tweets?? I haven’t found any clear information online yet…

    Um – people can follow me if they want too :-P I think this is the link : http://twitter.com/julianhopkins

  6. bryanlyt May 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    for twitter desktop client, maybe u can add in Digsby?
    i’m using it and it serves me well enough..
    simple, lightweight, all in one – twitter, multiple email notifications, etc..
    however the interface is just too plain and not as nice as the others such as tweetdeck, seesmic desktop, etc…

    n yes, twitter rocks!
    http://twitter.com/bryanlyt :D

  7. KY May 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    tweetdeck just wouldn’t install in this PC grr

  8. suanie May 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    for some reasons, i can’t install tweetdeck at home too. some issues with adobe air, even though i uninstalled, reinstalled whatever that i think could help i did. still cannot. oh wells

  9. Nigel May 8, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    Tweetdeck ftw. But on some machines, the issues with adobe air is there. I guess with so many options, one has an alternative.

    And yeah, I love the idea of ‘posting’ such informal stuff on twitter. makes it full of drama. haha.

  10. christock May 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    twitter is overrated and ppl are just joining for the bandwagon factor, and then they stop. kinda stupid. now i’m getting like tons of followers, but i only follow those who are worth following like Suanie *grins*

  11. dsaint May 9, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    twitter is boring. status update on facebook is better. more activity. :P

  12. ShaolinTiger May 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Mark Leo: Yah it’s carving out a new niche for live, unedited, raw reporting from the scene.

    suanie: Spam!

    eyeris: Yah irreverent maybe, but you still maintain some quality in your posts – you don’t just post random one liners about what you are doing or what you had for lunch.

    davidlian: Blogs and Twitter complement each other I think, not exclude each other.

    julian: Non of us are using SMS as mentioned in the post, we all use data apps – mostly desktop based like Tweetdeck and Twibble/Gravity on the move. So we only pay data charges (nothing if we have unlimited package).

    bryanlyt: Digsby is more than just a Twitter client so it doesn’t really fit here. It’s an all in one web app.

    KY: Keep trying! Or alternatively try DestroyTwitter.

    kimberlycun: Thanks for your insight..

    Nigel: Yah Tweetdeck rocks, not sure what the AIR issue is some people are having but it seems intermittent.

    christock: Overrated by who? It’s the fastest growing website. There is a high fallout rate though.

    dsaint: Most of our FB statuses come from Twitter anyway so why not go to the source? It’s not a problem anyway because Tweetdeck handles FB status too.

  13. Michael Yip May 9, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    sadly, TweetDeck was unable to install into my computer despite numerous tries. :( Now have to wait for the TweetDeck guys to get back to me on how to overcome the installer problem. :(

  14. Huai Bin May 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    I just jumped on the bandwagon and I love it! It’s so addictive. Like Michael, I too have problems downloading TweetDeck too. It keeps on giving me a binary error. :S

  15. Joey Logano Fan May 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    I am still very much a newbie to twitter, I only just recently signed up with twitter. My @joeyloganofan offcourse.

    I am following you now Shaolin, by the looks of it, you gave me a really good idea…. I am going to try to photoshop a photo on the left hand side, like you did. I think that will be much better to brand myself more. I just wish twitter had more customization!

  16. julian May 9, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks – seems like I should have read your post more closely. Will try to find out more about the SMS side of things… I guess it means that it is basically people with mobile internet access who will be using it in its full capacity?

  17. ShaolinTiger May 11, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Michael Yip: Tried DestroyTwitter? Or just keep trying, it’s an intermittent problem.

    Huai Bin: As above.

    Joey Logano Fan: Good stuff, keep it updated :)

    julian: Indeed, no one I know is using SMS to update unless they are out of data coverage (GPRS is fine to update, 3/3.5G is best for Twitpic). Full capacity is reached using a desktop app like those mentioned above (Tweetdeck, Dt(w), Twhirl, Seesmic). Mobile data compliments it meaning you can Tweet on the go.

  18. Kim Ong May 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Well said, I’m new to twitter. Lots to learn from this post!

  19. ShaolinTiger May 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Kim Ong: Glad it’s useful, do learn to harness Twitter – it’s a great tool.

  20. Tiago Faria June 7, 2009 at 6:16 am #

    You need an http://www.identi.ca account for me to stalk you there :)

    Have a good weekend.