Why Smart People Use Twitter

Brains On Twitter - The Anti-Social MediaSo I went to Wal-Mart this weekend because I wanted cheap crap at discount prices at 9 pm on a Sunday night.

Now, before I get any further with this story, I want to say, yes, this has everything to do with social media. So shut up.

Anyways, as soon as I parked my car I was greeted by a bright orange car with decals of paw prints on the sides and a huge Garfield sticker. What year is this? 1989? I was really disappointed there was no little suction cup stuffed Garfield hanging in the windows.

Anyways, I go into the store and move quickly to get the few items I need. As I get in line to check out, I’m preceded by a family that looks like they haven’t seen an ounce of culture since 1995, and and another family that has two children, both under the age of 8, out at Wal-Mart after 9 pm on a school night. Both families are buying more non-essential items, like tube tops, Wii remotes and furniture that looks like it was designed by a second grader.

High priorities here at Wal-Mart on Sunday night.

However after witnessing the Garfield car, the families that don’t know how to take care of their children, and the amalgamation of 200,000 square feet of crap in one ridiculously sized building, I realized there’s a reason I like Twitter so much.

You have to be smart and focused to use Twitter.

To create compelling messages over and over in limited format takes brains. Brains most people have, and brains the people shopping at Wal-Mart don’t have. Sure, on Facebook you can put all your crap in one space and attempt to organize it into some semblance of categories, but on Twitter you don’t get that. If you want to tell people about your loves and obsessions, you’ve got to do it in such a way that doesn’t drive the rest of human to tell you to shut up. You’ve also go to do it in space that is cripplingly small, not a 200,000 square foot retail cavern.

You also have to focus on a few topics if you want to build a great audience on Twitter. People have expectations on Twitter. Expectations you can’t control. They’ll expect certain things from you. You don’t always have to play to their expectations, but if you focus on a few topics you’re bound to do better than a crazy cat person who mostly shares his own blog posts and makes sarcastic tweets.

Most of all, if you’re good at Twitter, you’ve got some style to what you’re doing. Sure, that $140 futon may not be the most stylish thing, but the lime green cushion says something more about you than the choice to spend your time shopping at Target in your pajamas. With a limited space, every word counts, and your choices stand out even more.

Facebook, is the Wal-Mart of social media. It’s an 600 million member gorilla that can throw its weight around so much to affect the very nature how we use the web. Twitter is Target. It’s still huge, and there’s definitely crap in there, but there are also a lot of gems. MySpace is K-mart, struggling to hang in there and remain relevant in a land of big-box social networks that are too big for their own good.

The Garfield CarSmart people use Twitter because it’s big enough that most people they want to connect with are on there, and there’s a whole bunch of other great stuff for them to find if they look around hard enough. It’s still a big box social network, but there’s value beyond the huge amount of the masses on there.  Also, they aren’t greeted by the Garfield car when they use Twitter.

Are people smarter on Twitter? Do they actually drive cars that are decorated to look like other cartoon characters? I want to know where you think the smartest people hang out online.



68 Responses to Why Smart People Use Twitter

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