Commentary

Twitter Success! Or, I'm an Early Adopter with a Social Media Dilemma

I was cruising through our WordPress comments list for this blog and noticed the plethora of comments on a post on Twitter. As a fellow blogger I feel I should offer an alternative viewpoint, with all respect to my friendly millennial counterpart.

I'm a huge Twitter fan. I signed up for the service in 2007 but only began using it once I convinced a group of friends to sign up for it. We were the early adopters of the college community. We were nerdy journalism or tech types who instantly found joy in a steam of status updates and the conversation ensuing from them.

I won't bore you with three paragraphs as to why I think twitter is a great, most of the comments seemed to take care of that. In the blogger's defense, the service arguably has little relevance to anyone unless he/she a) knows people on it or b) is looking to network with professionals and industry.

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That brings me to an interesting fork in the road as I prepare to leave college and head for the professional world. How serious should I make my twitter feed?

I debated the reasons of professional twittering and more casual/friend twittering with this blog's moderator just the other day. While I maintain an account for my web site (@bewilderedsoc), I also keep my original personal account, (@dpstud). On top of that, I manage two other accounts as part of my job. So the debate here is this: Is having an openly accessible twitter account that's more personally focused a bad thing? Am I wrong for tweeting my inside jokes, comments on drunk friends' hijinks and thoughts on airport security?

As a cocky little millennial, I'm prone to say, "I don't care." This is my social space, and you stumbled into it! I mean, if you're judging me for my tweets as part of a job interview, I'm inclined to say one of two things: a) You won't like me anyway or b) Why the hell didn't you mention the drunken Facebook pictures of me jello-wrestling a small family of geese during "fowl night" at the bar? I mean, that's the obvious deal breaker!

Yet, I know better than to think that some people, specifically hiring managers who live by MBTI types, won't seek out that sort of Internet work. But let's face it: I'm nearly 25, and most of my life has existed alongside the growth of the Internet. I'm a nerd. In fact if you wanted dirt, there's a lot more than my Twitter account you could dig up. Case and point: Archives of a members.aol.com Web site with commentary/columns from my early days as a public access television producer. I'm sure there are some remarks on there that I'd regret now. But hey, I thought it was right when I said it. People change. People mature.

As I prepare to move, I can see this uber-personal tweeting evolving as I depart from college life. At the same time, a new home means new friends, but also a need to stay in touch with the old ones. To date, I've yet to back away from these more "personal" tweets directed at friends. And by that I mean my true friends. What's a true friend? Uh, someone whose number I have in my cell phone? OK.. Well, that's not a pass/fail, either. How's this: The people who I could give a hug to without it being awkward.

I digress. My personal tweets are not focused on trying to market myself or seem like one of the thousands of "social media experts" in the field. Rather the tweets are more about random events relating to campus, where I'm traveling or who I'm visiting ... and the jokes, curious thoughts and remarks that come to mind during the day. I'm using twitter as a social tool with my friends, and I'm not about to lock it down (though some have) to only followers because it seems "unprofessional." Fact is, at the moment I feel I have other outlets for disseminating my thoughts on my interests in journalism, digital media, etc.

In this respect, Twitter really has two distinct uses and thus, users. The first type of user is concerned only with professional networking and communication. The second type of user is using the service as a device to further friendships or maybe even find them. Those who mix the two have an understanding follower base, with friends who let the professional "check this link out" tweets fly past, and the professionals who let the friendly "enjoying beer night @ the baseball game with @friend @friend @friend" go past without judgment.

Which type of Twitter user are you?

Perhaps more importantly, how understanding of a follower are you?

1 comment about "Twitter Success! Or, I'm an Early Adopter with a Social Media Dilemma".
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  1. Ricky Munoz from Fuji Xerox Philippines Inc., July 20, 2009 at 8:12 p.m.

    If what you're saying is that anticipating moving into the workforce will cause you to change your social behavior in order to conform to a new social millieu, then welcome to the workforce. This is nothing new. Twitter merely spreads your connection to others over a wider toast, but what you spread on it will always be your choice.

    But then "prefessional" Twitter is more than just the online equivalent of a cocktail party vs a weekend drinking spree (as in "Twitter".) People can forget your social gaffe's when slightly tipsy, but having the ability to replay your inneviatble errors over and over again means that "professional" tweeting must be looked on as a form of publishing i.e. imagine yourself as a newspaper editor before posting that photo of you feeling up the CEO's trophy wife.

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