Introducing Twitter To Millennials

I work on a University campus. Everyone is on Facebook.
I watch my own children in both Middle School and High School. All of their friends are on Facebook.
I speak at a variety of youth events. Facebook rules their time on the internet.

A 2011 Nielson Report shows that globally, people spend 53 BILLION minutes a month on Facebook. The next closest social media usage was YouTube with 9.1 billion minutes a month.

Enter Twitter.

Twitter hasn’t caught on with Millennials yet. I think this is due to a couple of factors:

1. Facebook does everything Millennials want.
2. All the Millennials are on Facebook.

When I mention Twitter to my Millennial friends, I’m often met with blank stares or a response like, “Oh, I signed up for a Twitter, but I’ve never really used it.” I can understand that. Facebook is the common community with this emerging generation. Twitter seems to be more useful and used by an older demographic. It seems that Generation X is more apt to drink the Twitter Kool-Aid. This includes me.


This is the #1 question I get asked when I talk about how involved and invested I am in this social media tool. My response typically falls within four categories:

1. Concise

140 characters. That’s all you get. The medium forces you to be pithy. It requires you to make your point clearly and quickly. I may not have time to write a blog post but I can knock out a “tweet” (the name for each individual message sent on Twitter) in a matter of seconds. A tweet is text message with wings. It can contain a link, a powerful message, an observation, a real-time update, a reminder, and anything else you can think of that fits within the 140 character limit. You must choose your words carefully. Twitter doesn’t have to consume a lot of your time in what you read or what you create.  The very nature of the Twitter keeps it concise…always.

2. Content

Twitter is a constant flow of information. The information is like a giant river. Step into the river and you’ll be inundated by all kinds of messages. It can be overwhelming. That’s why I encourage people just starting out to get over the idea that you have to read every tweet. Twitter content is useful in so many ways. Just this morning, I received the following content through Twitter:

  • Links to a variety of articles on the internet I wouldn’t have found on my own.
  • Status updates of some close friends.
  • The latest news from my local newspaper and some other media outlets I follow.
  • Some inspirational quotes that got me thinking.
  • A couple of comments about my blog and my books.
  • “Live” Pictures and observations from a conference I’m unable to attend.
  • Encouragement from others who are working through P90X2 like I am.
  • Lots of other stuff…

Of course, I use a variety of tools to keep my portion of the river organized so that it isn’t overwhelming. The goal is to read the tweets you want to read from the people you want to read from. Twitter helps you organize your “twitter-stream” through the use of lists, hashtags, and advanced search functions.

One more thing about content. I just shared about what I consume. The other side is what I create. I post about 10-15 tweets a day that sit in most of the categories I listed above. It usually takes me less than 10 minutes total to do that. I try to add things to the twitter-stream that I consider valuable and that I think others would find valuable. My best example of this is Tweedership – Learning Leadership in 140 Characters or Less. I wrote Tweedership, along with my co-worker, Kenton Lee, ONE TWEET AT A TIME. That’s right. You post enough tweets on a certain topic (in this case, over 450), you can compile them together and create a book. You can read the whole story about Tweedership here.

3. Connections

For the most part, behind every tweet is a person. Because of the concise nature of twitter and its ease of use, I can send and receive messages from people I wouldn’t normally have access to. I have asked questions and received feedback from CEO’s, authors, professional athletes, people from other countries, peers at other Universities, and so many more. Twitter has given me access (or at the very least, attention) to people and information that wasn’t possible before.

One of the best parts of these Twitter connections is when they move beyond the tweets. Connections that started on Twitter have moved to phone calls, meet-ups, collaboration, conversations, and sharing resources. I have connections with people all over the globe. To say that Twitter has expanded my network is an understatement.

4. Contributions

If you ask me, “Why Twitter?”, I’ll point to the first three areas (concise, content, connections) to talk about all of the things you can get out of Twitter. I’ll explain all of the things that Twitter can do for you. Yet all of that is possible to the extent that each person is willing to contribute TO Twitter. Twitter is an opportunity for you to add your own voice, your own observations, your own valuable resources to the stream. It becomes quickly apparent to others who follow you closely how you use Twitter. There is so much to receive from it. But there’s so much more to the experience if you’re willing to contribute to it. It’s not terribly time-consuming, yet with each tweet you are adding to the collective experience.

I started using Twitter on Sunday, March 4, 2007. Starting out, I didn’t know what posting a tweet meant or if anyone even read it. But over time, having contributed over 8650 tweets to this thing, the ripples are showing me that Twitter is a great social media tool. It’s growing and evolving. I encourage all of my Millennial friends to step into the river. More and more of them are starting to do so. It’s great to see their contributions.

On Twitter, I am @timage.

If you have any questions or want to enhance your Twitter experience, leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter.

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