its about engagement

I’ve recently come back from a fantastic holiday in East Africa (which included a quick getaway to South Africa to watch Ghana spank USA during the Round of 16).

I had the opportunity to meet many business people and entrepreneurs in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and even South Africa.  One of the questions I got asked was, “I don’t get Twitter. Why should I bother reading what people are eating for breakfast?!”  Good point.

Allow me to make my point now:  Being on Twitter is not the same as being engaged on Twitter.

Now let’s discuss this.

The most popular accounts on Twitter are people you and I will probably never meet on a one-on-one basis.  Movie stars and TV personalities have huge followings because of the nature of their industry.  But they are not engaged with you and you are not really engaged with them.  They tell you what they have for lunch and you think that’s the reason Twitter was invented.

On the flip side, there are real people making real connections on Twitter.  It’s not the number of followers you have.  Instead, it’s about the depth of conversations you have on Twitter.

I use Twitter to brand myself.  I tweet about what I’m doing like waiting in the hospital for malaria tests.  But I also use it as a feed for my articles I write on Techvibes as well as on this blog.  And I also promote links to other tweets (called ReTweets) and articles that I find interesting.

Finally, I use Twitter to crowdsource help and ideas.  In fact, I can safely say that most of the people I’ve connected with IRL (In Real Life) in 2010 in Toronto and Kenya were people I first “met” via Twitter.

So the value of Twitter is not in the tool or software.  The value of Twitter, and other social media tools, is determined by the user and the level of engagement they pursue.

By the way, I had a peanut butter sandwich and orange juice for breakfast.

What say you?