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How to Explain to Your Mother, Husband, Best Friend That Twitter Is Not a Waste of Time

A good friend said to me: “Why would anyone be on Twitter?” Mind you, he’s never been on Twitter and he doesn’t know a thing about it. But he’s a successful lawyer and thinks he knows what’s what.

In reply, I’ve decided to come up with a list of answers for when someone asks you this question:

1. Getting news updates before the news media

2. Asking technical software/hardware questions and getting answers

3. Asking for referrals for a plumber in your hometown area

4. Getting book recommendations in 140 characters instead of rambling book reviews

5. Connecting with people you’ve met on LinkedIn or Facebook and want a quicker way to message them

6. Getting links to specific industry news

7. Sharing valuable blog posts

8. Sharing information about your own projects

9. Giving testimonials

10. Getting tips in all kinds of subjects

11. Getting help when you have a problem with, for example, your Sprint account

12. Connecting with higher-level people than you could through other communication channels

Perhaps the reason I like best is that I use my Twitter contacts as information filters. I certainly don’t have time to read everything I’d like to read. Thus when someone whose opinion I really trust tweets that this is a good article and includes the link, I’ll click through to take a quick look. More often than not, I’m glad I was alerted to the information.

Of course, it’s important when being on Twitter to be a giver and not just a taker. In other words, you have to share good info also – and not just info that you’ve written. For example, when I’ve read a particularly informative article in that day’s Wall Street Journal, I’ll tweet the link if there’s a public link available for that story.

Also, Twitter offers the ability to widen your own world – and to do this from the convenience of your computer. Most of us tend to stick to the people we know. But on Twitter we can have conversations with people all over the country (and globe if they tweet in English) – people we would never otherwise have the opportunity to meet.

For my part, I’m going to come up with a good “put down” line for when people say: “Why would anyone be on Twitter?” Something like: “You don’t know what you’re missing.” Or: “Try it, you’ll like.” Or finally: “If you try it and become a Twitter addict, don’t blame me.”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller’s company has an Internet marketing program that can help people promote their brand, book or business through Twitter and other online strategies. See for program information. She is also a National Internet Business Examiner at

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