What Twitter Is For

Instagram by @andjelicaaa

There’s probably a million blog posts about how useful Twitter is: for sharing, communicating; for businesses, for brands, for people. I started using Twitter about 3 years ago because I felt I needed to understand it. But for the first six months I didn’t know what it was for. But I kept with it. And I learned how to use it, for me.

Last night I learned again the true power of Twitter. At least for me.

In the last 5 months, I’ve moved to New York City. Big change: new job, new responsibilities, new city. An exciting opportunity. But now, most of my friends and family are on the other side of the country. Like millions of other people, I was riding out Hurricane Sandy in my new home in Brooklyn last night. Our internet and cable went out about 8 pm. Without a radio, it was hard to know what was happening with the ever evolving storm. Twitter became my real-time media.

I probably spent from 9 pm until after midnight on Twitter. Sharing safety tips from @NYCMayorsOffice and @FDNY. Passing on rumors and then the truth of those rumors. (Here’s a nice piece on how Twitter operates as a truth catcher.) Retweeting calls for a generator to help someone in lower Manhattan with a ventilator with no power. Thanking the emergency responders. Communicating real-time with my family in the Midwest and in the Bay Area. Sharing the facts about my neighborhood with folks who though I don’t personally know, were asking if anyone had any information about conditions in Cobble Hill. And staying abreast of what was happening in my new city…through tweets, videos, pictures all coming in live and real-time. Some of it scary. Some of it sadly beautiful. All through my mobile phone, not my plasma screen TV.

Trite, perhaps. In the grand scheme of things, my experience last night was uniquely personal and maybe not as profound as I make it out to be. But it is the reality today. I turn to Twitter now instead of the TV to find out what’s going on. And connect. And share. And now I have a better example when I have to explain to people who don’t use it “What Twitter is for.”

EDIT: 10/31 NYT had a nice post regarding Twitter and Hurricane Sandy. Find it here.

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About russhmeyer

Californian by choice; Midwestern farm boy by birth. I have an MFA in design and an MBA in finance and international entrepreneurship. This combo makes me a creative strategist. I am the Chief Strategy Officer for Landor, a global branding consultancy. My views are my own.
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