Connecting with people on Twitter is incredibly simple. Friends and strangers can be reached directly with a simple “@” and an appropriate username. If this public communication is not desired, direct messages can be utilized.
I’m currently enrolled in a graduate course that required the use of Twitter to set up a 120-minute class presentation. All classmates would be speaking on different topics related to social media use and adoption. From the get-go, I was a bit skeptical. A lot of information can be communicated in 140 characters, but would that be enough to conduct a somewhat complicated task such as this?
Well, I think it could work. I would label this class’s attempt as lackluster, but it was not a complete failure. Much was learned, but so much could be improved upon. Our professor nailed it on the head when she briefly stated that the biggest flaw with this plan’s execution was that so many of the participants of the presentation just didn’t “show up” initially. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault; some classmates are brand new users of Twitter and everything is confusing and foreign. What makes perfect sense to a veteran tweeter like myself could seem inane to someone who has been using the platform for a week. So there was a clear misunderstanding of Twitter and how one communicates with the tool.
Another problem is inherent in the Twittersphere itself. The aforementioned character limit poses a problem. Ideas are often spread across several tweets due to this restriction. Additionally, given the nature of the tweet feed and new users’ unfamiliarity with lists or dashboard applications like Tweetdeck, being able to follow a conversation with a certain group of users can be rather challenging. The class consists of about 12 individuals; it is not possible to “@” everyone for each message. By the time this is done, the 140 characters allotted would likely be depleted. The class attempted to implement a class hashtag to help facilitate the process, but that too didn’t seem to be wildly helpful. This hashtag wasn’t exclusive to the group project and elements of unacquaintedness definitely came into play with this tactic, as well.
I feel this project could have been a success had it been assigned a couple more weeks into the semester. People didn’t “show up,” not because they did not want to, but because they were still working to understand the social networking site. It was an interesting experiment, nonetheless, and I look forward to watching the class grow on Twitter and learn how to more effectively use the platform.