Twitter: What is it Good For?

I ask a lot of questions on Twitter. A lot.

Someone mentioned that using Twitter instead of Google to find information was an attention-getting tactic.

To which some people replied, “Isn’t Twitter in general a way to get attention?”

But I digress.

I do not use social media professionally. I am not a brand. I am not marketing myself or my writing or a company or a non-profit.

Which is not to say, especially when it comes to my children’s school, I wouldn’t like to use Twitter in such a way — to market, to communicate to a specific audience, professionally. And I do post my blog posts to Twitter.

If asking questions on Twitter is attention-getting, I am guilty, in spades.

But I do use Twitter for information. It’s so very efficient! If I throw a question out there, such as, “What is superfine sugar? Is it confectioners’ sugar?”, I get anywhere from one to five answers. (My favorite answer to that question the other day was, “It’s really, really good-looking sugar.” h/t @onedamnthing.)

If I google that phrase, I get more than 300,000 results, and many of the results are ads that take me to a particular brand page (which, go SEO!) or recipes. I would have to sift through those results. When I ask on Twitter, not only do I get an answer, but I also learn, for example, that while I can buy superfine sugar, I can also get the same effect by putting regular granulated sugar in a food processor.

Plus, a lot of time when I use Twitter to ask questions I’m at home, and I don’t sit in front of a computer at home. I am running around with my kids, or cooking dinner, or cleaning up, or whatever. So I use my pocket friends and their stores of knowledge. My pocket friends are very smart, very patient with me, and pretty willing to answer my inane baking questions. (I also asked about self-rising flour recently. In case you didn’t know, self-rising flour has nothing to do with yeast.)

(Phrase “pocket friends”, h/t to @tehamy and @jayesel — I’ve seen them both use it. Or maybe one of them says “pocket people”. Anyway, you get the idea.)

Search engines very much have their place. Google and Bing are a great resources, and I do use them quite often professionally and casually. But if I want information quickly, Twitter is the place for me!

When you need an answer to a question, where do you turn?

8 thoughts on “Twitter: What is it Good For?

  1. I tend to Google product information and some questions, but, as you said, there are so many results, a lot of which tend not to be helpful (maybe I am not using the best wording). If I come up empty there, or if I care more about someone’s opinion, then I head to Facebook. Those people are “real,” often with legitimate experience. Who knows who or what you are getting with the big, bad internet?!

    If I used Twitter, I think I would go there first; it does seem more efficient than Facebook. But I am not 100 percent sure how it “works.” It seems to be the opposite of FB. Is it that you pick the people you follow, but if no one follows you (or if only a few people do), then no one would be able to answer your questions?

    • Facie, Twitter and Facebook *are* different, and I think people have very clear preferences. With Twitter, you would pick the people you want to follow, and depending on how (or if) they know you, they would choose to follow you back. I prefer Twitter: there is a lot of control about privacy, alerts, and so on. Facebook is constantly changing, and I have to constantly change my settings there. As far as seeking answers, both would work similarly: the people who could see your status or tweet would be the people who could answer it.

  2. I don’t Tweet. I’m still a Google girl. But I also don’t own a touch-screen phone yet, so I might as well be living with the dinosaurs, no?

  3. I also use Twitter to seek information–sometimes about baking, sometimes about clarification, sometimes suggestions for places to take my kids for dinner…that sort of thing. There is a sort of personal element that Google does not have in that I’m getting responses from people I know in some way. If only virtually!

    • Yes, exactly, katy! The responses are impartial (i.e. not selling anything) yet still knowledgable. I follow a number of people who are good cooks or foodies, and/or good bakers. They are usually happy to answer a question without me having to go to my computer. 🙂

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