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Is Twitter a Chat Room?

Twitter is so noisy

Anyone on Twitter has heard it all before- “Twitter is too noisy,” “Twitter is just a big pointless chat room,” “Twitter is stupid,” and “no, I won’t use Twitter, now get off my lawn.” Once fully immersed into the social microblogging network Twitter, people start sounding like that guy who used to weigh 400 pounds but lost 200 and now looks like an after picture. That guy wants everyone to join him in his fabulous weight loss quest and it comes up in every single conversation you have with him.

So what? If there was a magic pill that cured obesity, don’t you think everyone would be talking about it? If there was a magic social network that bridged all others and was growing like crazy wouldn’t it be prudent to look into it? The 2008 social media statistics were just released: Twitter grew 752% in 2008 which is the equivalent of 400lb guy losing 350lbs- it’s insane.

Still not convinced?

No? I wouldn’t be either because those are just numbers, right? I mean, who cares that Twitter has a fairly well educated, high income demographic? Who cares that it is a naturally informal place conducive to genuine connections that offers up a trust relationship at a break necked pace? Who cares that Twitter is catching up to Facebook in monthly traffic? Who cares that moms, athletes, Realtors, lawyers, CEOs, java programmers, journalists and Shaq all congregate somewhere that people let their hair down on a level playing field? Who cares that the same people calling Twitter a waste of time actually spend their time ON Twitter? Who cares that the use of Twitter leads to “tweet ups” where people take these relationships offline and often to a business relationship? Who cares that in many cases, Twitter has replaced texting and email? Who cares that 70% of users joined in 2008, and are new just like you?

Twitter is not a chat room although it has some of the same functionality. Twitter may some day evolve into something else and we understand that Twitter is just a tool or a vehicle, but the culture of open and instant communication will live on regardless of the forum. If you’re not on Twitter, it can feel like a giant chat room at first because the age of early adoption is over and many users are well established in the network and “speak” accordingly. You don’t have to use Twitter, but if you do, you’ll be the formerly 400lb guy in no time talking about the amazing connection potential.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Marvin Jensen

    January 26, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Twitter is noisy, but it works!

  2. Jack Leblond

    January 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Twitter can be noisy. But, like many things you get out what you put in. Noise in, noise out. Valuable conversation in, valuable conversation out.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    January 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I think Twitter can be noisy if people are not selective in whom they follow. Realtors especially, tend to follow anyone and everyone because in this way they hope to increase odds of business success. But the truth of the matter is,you have to have a true interest in getting to know that particular person that you’re following. Otherwise, Twitter becomes like Macaroni Grill on Saturday dinner time.

  4. Jason Crouch

    January 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Lani – This is a very astute look at Twitter. I sometimes feel like that guy you referenced here.

    “A friend of mine on Twitter said…”

    “I saw ________ on Twitter….”

    Nicely done!

  5. Nick Bostic

    January 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Yes, Twitter is a chat room. There are a lot of people in one place all talking to each other and seeing one another talk to specific people with little privacy (unless a DM is sent). Are chat rooms bad things?

    I ran a BBS ages ago, met a lot of great people, found loads of information and had a lot of fun. Then came Prodigy and Compuserve with official chat rooms and I avoided them like the plague. Chat rooms were the home of weirdo’s, and I didn’t want to be a part of that.

    Shortly after joining Twitter, I realized it too is a chat room, so when/where did my barrier drop? It was what I was in the mood for. I used to chat endlessly with people via IM, but now people have IM on all the time despite rarely being near the computer (myself included), so the value has dropped.

    I said recently I found Twitter to be too noisy. For my needs, it is now. There are great people on there that I contact from time to time, but as a full-time office worker with multiple side business ventures about to launch, I unfortunately don’t have the time to sit and watch the stream.

    Per usual, YMMV.

  6. Ken Brand

    January 26, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Twitter is babbling party river, sorta like the Guadeloupe River rushing through New Braunfels on July 4th. You got all kinda tubers splashing around. Some interesting, some funny, some odd, some inappropriate and some boring. It’s a spectacle and for me that’s the beauty, you never know what you’ll hear, or who you’ll meet.

    I also like it because it updates my facebook status. Although I must admit, Twitter is fairly informal, I’ve unplugged the FB status update a time or two.

    And finally, don’t drunk dial, don’t drunk text and don’t drunk twitter.


    Oh –

  7. The Harriman Team

    January 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I’m sure to some people Twitter might seem noisy. Sometimes it’s like the static on a old radio, the kind that grates on your ears and makes you change the channel until you find a clear one. That’s the ticket with Twitter: fine-tune it, choose who you follow wisely, pick the people who add quality signal to your stream, not static, and weed out the chaff. There will always be some noise, but it can be managed down to a dull roar so you can focus on the signals that add value.

  8. Paula Henry

    January 27, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I liken Twitter to a coffee break. When I have time, I meet my friends for a few minutes, talk about what’s going on, offer suggestions, receive some ideas – read an article or two, then coffee breaks over.

    Yeah, sometimes it’s noisy – the best coffee houses always are!


    January 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I look at it as a headline of whatever you wish to say. Whenever I gain a new property or sell one I write a headline on Twitter.

  10. teresa boardman

    January 28, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I think twitter is a kind of chat room that is why it is so cool.

  11. Lesley Lambert

    April 15, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Twitter is a chatroom that you can filter if you use your tools (ie: tweetworks or tweetdeck) and finesse the chat into real conversations. Many of my conversations have turned into actual friendships and several have become business partners of mine.

    Used properly, twitter is powerful!

  12. Mary Ann

    May 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Well, for me Twitter is a chatroom…I sometimes talk to friends in there..discuss some few things which we interest in.

    It’s kinda noisy..but I love it there.

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