Twitter: Waste of Time or Revolutionary Communication Tool?

Twitter. A waste of time or revolutionary communication tool?
Are all those tweets a colossal waste of time?

Two recent headlines caught me eye: Is Twitter a Waste of Time? (via Problogger) and Twitter Surpasses 200 Million Tweets Per Day (via Mashable).

What a dichotomy! The microblog lends itself so readily to volume, I guess it’s no revelation that more doesn’t necessarily equal better. I think it all depends on HOW you use it, just like anything else.

Waste of Time?

The biggest case for time waster: 40% of tweets are fragments of conversation. Very true. I often get interested in a twitter exchange, then have to back track to get the whole conversation.

Tweetdeck (with all it’s flaws) is my favorite Twitter time-saving/organizational tool that solves this problem. I can follow accounts with one click. Absolutely love it (well, except for the ipad version, it’s too slow).

Revolutionary?

The biggest case for revolutionary: hashtags. The lowly pound sign has been elevated to celebrity status. Tweetdeck to the rescue! It comes set up with a column showing trending topics/hashtags and also lets you follow hashtags with one click. But now that hashtags are mainstream, following last week’s Casey Anthony’s #notguilty verdict and the swan song for NASA’s #Atlantis launch, the columns were literally a blur. So I had to move to Twitter Web Access in order to make any sense of the conversations. Hopefully Tweetdeck is working on a manual throttle solution. Otherwise, hashtags are going to become useless.

Other interesting factoids from the Problogger research/infographic:

How we use twitter:

  • Learn about products/services 42%
  • Provide opinions about products/services 41%
  • Ask for opinions about products/services 31%
  • Seek customer support 19%

How you should use twitter:

  • Widen your network
  • Learn stuff
  • Showcase your stuff

I would add “Breaking News” to the list. Twitter works for me, how about you?

Lisa DuBois Low is co-founder of SmartGirlsDigital and writes for the company blog, where this article originally ran. Follow SmartGirlsDigital on Twitter @SmartGirls2 and like us on Facebook.

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