Why Twitter Is So Powerful

It hit me in the shower last night why exactly Twitter is so powerful. It’s like IRC.

No, I’m not kidding and don’t run away yet.

Today @stripedshirt and @valene were talking about why MSN (aka IM) isn’t used by them anymore, simply because it’s too distracting. On top of that, MSN mostly allows for one-to-one conversations (yes I know you can add more people to conversations), but Twitter is cool in that you can have many people adding to a conversation at different times of the day and it’ll continue on.

And that’s what I like most about Twitter and that’s why it’s so powerful. It requires a short amount of attention, but it allows you to feel connected and part of a community more than IM does (at least for me). A real example is when a few of us just got started on Twitter. Me (@uniquefrequency), Andre (@stripedshirt) and Valene (@valene). So 3 of us kinda were messaging here and there but with only 3 people, there wasn’t much benefits to reap in terms of network externalities.

Fastforward 4-6 weeks, add in Andre’s group’s great presentation on microblogging, and now we have Nabilah (@allquirknoplay), Jacqueline (@jacquelinechang), Amelia (@amsie), Lionel (@gaothebao), Peiling (@gniliep), Alaska (@alaskie), Xiao Hui (@thehsuperficies), Mark (@beatmastermark), Gladys (@gladyschock) and Christina (@tinana).

The best part is I have less than half of these people on my MSN list, and yet I talk more to most of them than to other people on my MSN list.

It’s like IRC in that we all drop in the same “room” at different times of the day and maybe I’ll know that some of them are in the library, some are awake at 5am finishing a project, who’s in a Starbucks, and the list goes on. It’s come to a stage where we even have @SMUtweets to tweet school-related stuff to all of us. How cool is that?

To me, Twitter has truly become the new social water cooler.

You might argue that 13 of us out of a school population of 4,500 is insignificant. But is it really? If you were a company and you had 13 passionate advocates following your brand on Twitter, Tweeting things to each other and spreading your brand and/or message, wouldn’t you be happy? (Wouldn’t it be great if Frujch could tell us when the queue is short? Or if portobello melts are running out so we can ZOOM down to get the last few?)

I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and here’s an experiment I want to run: All of us SMU students currently on Twitter should aim to get one, just one, other friend on Twitter by Week 14 (just lean over to the person next to you in the library and do some convincing!). We’re going to try to double the SMU-Twitter population and see just how far we can go with this in really forming a community and network, and see what comes out of it.

Post your success stories and/or great Twitter stories in the comments section so we’ll know who to follow and we’ll review this experiment in 2 weeks! Let’s keep in mind that getting new people to sign up on Twitter is just the first step, we need to make them feel welcome to get them to stick around and enjoy it as much as we do!


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17 Responses to “Why Twitter Is So Powerful”

  1. brian Says:

    great evangelising! everybody just needs to get one extra person on twitter to make the world a better place.. hahaha
    glad to have added you @uniquefrequency

  2. Daryl Tay Says:

    @brian: Thanks! Dropped by your blog. I think there are lots of gems in there. Consider me subscribed! (Tell me if your feedburner count goes up. Mine seems to be buggy)

  3. Daryl Tay Says:

    Pleased to report my SMU Twitter Experiment convert: @chloefair

  4. the fiancee Says:

    i kinda disagree. i’d rather people take their long twitter conversations offline to msn or something else, especially if it is mindless chatter. can create too much noise for me at times, particularly if i’m not interested in following the other party.

  5. Indian Stallion Says:

    I am one of those who still doesn’t get it. I don’t really wanna know about the inane details of other people’s daily lives.

  6. thehsuperficies Says:

    the best part was REALLY when Lionel asked me “so WHO IS THIS DARYL! i only know him as the uniquefrequencies guy.” and then two minutes later we bumped into you.
    awesomeness to infinity

  7. Daryl Tay Says:

    @fiancee: That’s true. I just listened to an interesting podcast about that actually. I guess reading 5 posts each from 4 people at once can be crazy, but for me it rarely happens because they’re spread out over the day.

    @Indian Stallion: Ah but it’s used for much more than that! Drop me a line on Twitter and we can talk more!

    @thehsuperficies: EXACTLY. Aren’t you glad you decided to take the social media plunge? I’m waiting for your Experiment result!

  8. brian Says:

    lessee, the power of twitter can be demonstrated in this. @uniquefrequency found my blog, left a message and also proceeded to add me on twitter.

    having checked his blog out and worthy to follow on twitter, i follwed him back. and then i found out about social media breakfast, and i got my colleague to add him as well. and it was great, we were twittering without needing to ask for MSN. (which could have been easily solved i guess..) but yeah, there’s a social element to it, its not just one on one communications, and its done over GPRS, not wifi, the penetration rate for GPRS is so much higher.

    it’s really non-invasive, because there’s nothing wrong with ignoring a twitter message, you can block or unfollow, and you gotta learn when to switch off.

    that comes with discipline, we can’t follow all our RSS feeds and Twitters, we’ve got to let go of some and in the process, this selective reading is a new media literacy skill. seperating signal from noise.

  9. Andre Says:

    Great post!


    Thanks for the mention!

  10. eugenemon Says:

    I’ve been in twitter for a few months now but i still don’t know how it works and what it is for. :s

  11. Twitter is Indeed Powerful (If Used Properly) « Striped:Shirt Says:

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  12. amsiewong Says:

    twitter ROCKS, period. 🙂

  13. Daryl Tay Says:

    @brian: I couldn’t have put it better myself! True social media adventure!

    @Andre: Your follow-up post is pretty good too!

    @eugenemon: I’d be happy to show you some of the stuff you can do! Have you checked out my Twitter 201 series? feel free to add me on Twitter!

    @amsie: no argument 😉

  14. Evan H Says:

    Great post espousing the power of such a simple little app like Twitter. I started using it about 2 months ago at the behest of my girlfriend. At first, I was of the opinion of many others that wonder why they want to follow the inane details of peoples’ lives.

    However, as a result of using it (and integrating it into my netvibes page), I’ve noticed that my connections to the people using it have become much more frequent.

    One specific example is my communication with my brother who lives over 500 miles away. We both have very difficult schedules, and he has a family that takes up a lot of his time. By using twitter, we’ve been able to communicate the little conversations to each other (the inane details) more often. I actually know what is going on in the lives of my niece and nephew again!

    So, kudos to you trying to recruit onto twitter. I plan on doing the same in Northern Virginia. I’ve been successful with 4 or 5 people over the past few weeks or so. Good luck to everybody!

  15. Daryl Tay Says:

    @Evan: That’s a great Twitter story! I love the part about your brother, niece and nephew! I’m sure it would be so much easier to quickly read about something that they tweeted about compared to them sending you an email every so often. What’s your Twitter username? I’d love to follow you.

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