Twitter is fast becoming a leading online community as well as a powerful social marketing tool. The beauty of Twitter lies in its simplicity. Compared to other community-oriented web services like Facebook and MySpace, Twitter is streamlined, simple, and straightforward. This both contributes to and detracts from its usability.
Twitter is Easy to Join
Advantage: It takes less than a minute to create an account with Twitter and start “tweeting.” The rules of the game are pretty straightforward. Registration is instant, and there is no need to follow up with a confirmation e-mail.
Disadvantage: because Twitter is so easy to join, virtually everyone has a Twitter account, so their server tends to get overloaded easily. It’s not uncommon to have trouble connecting to Twitter’s site.
Twitter is Easy to Use
Advantage: Twitter limits its updates to 140 characters, so there’s no need (or temptation) to launch into long-winded prose or to over-explain your thought. There is only one main screen, so you never have to search around for what you’re looking for.
Disadvantage: Because Twitter is so simple, there is little sophistication to the presentation. Your profile is lean and mean. You can only have one photo attached to your profile at a time, and little detailed information about yourself. It’s not a great way for people to get to know you, unless you are very good at expressing yourself in 140 characters or less.
Twitter is a Democracy
Advantage: You can follow anyone on Twitter, and anyone can follow you. Although there is an option to block someone from following you, unlike with Facebook, you don’t have to actively accept someone’s friendship in order for them to see your updates. It’s easy to accumulate followers passively, and common for strangers to follow your feed.
Disadvantage: Without the advantage of selectively specifying your target audience, your message is in danger of being diluted among the masses. Chances are that most of the people who follow you on Twitter aren’t really paying attention to what you have to say.
Twitter Can Be Anonymous
Advantage: Unlike Facebook, which insists that you use your “real name” (while doing a debatable job monitoring whether or not you actually do so), Twitter allows you to choose any available user name you’d like—creative or otherwise. You can fill out a profile at your discretion, without the mandate to share personal information.
Disadvantage: You may not have any idea who is really following you.
Twitter Can Be Automated
Advantage: With the use of such third-party services as HootSuite, you can set your tweets to update automatically without having to log in on a regular basis. This allows you to keep an active Twitter presence with very little effort.
Disadvantage: You can’t count on the timely integrity of other tweeters’ information either. As far as you know, a robot wrote their tweet.
Twitter Offers Free Widgets and Apps
Advantage: With a flexible selection of free widgets and mini-applications available, it’s easy to embed a link to your Twitter feed (or even a subset of the feed itself) into your personal or company web site.
Disadvantage: Tweets are everywhere. It can be hard to weed through all the Twitter updates popping up around the web.