Twitter explained: Boilerplate
April 18th, 2008

Has anybody else had a tough time explaining the value and purpose of Twitter to your non-Twittering friends, clients or colleagues?

After writing several lengthy emails, I threw all my best examples and links into a single message. My “Twitter explained” *boilerplate is the result.

*This boilerplate is just that: a template. I recommend that you hack and remix it with a style and examples all your own.

Please also share your favorite Twitter metaphor in a comment below ( for example, “sensibility streaming” or “collaborative unconscious”).


Subject line:

What Twitter can do for your [brand, company, blog, school, course, social life, running goals, academic career, etc]

Message body:

Hey [future Twitterer],

I was thinking it would be great if you had a presence in Twitter [ ]. In a nutshell, Twitter is sort of like the Facebook status update and IRC chat rolled into a single social application where people write, read and respond in real time. The result is a kind of live collective unconscious of all those you follow.

Twitter posts, AKA “tweets,” are 140 characters in length including links. Think of online news headlines and you get the picture. I think of Twitter as a [your metaphor here] “sensibility subscription” because it allows me to subscribe to other people’s ongoing thoughts and activities and share my own.

Here’s a great animated video by Common Craft that explains it all much better than I can. It’s called “Twitter in plain English:”

One of the most popular uses of Twitter is as a micro content delivery system. Tools like Twitterfeed allow you to configure an RSS of your latest [blogposts, magazine articles, website content, news, social bookmarks, flickr photos] to your Twitter profile:

BBC, WIRED, Boing Boing, Smartmobs and many other publications [your examples here] use Twitter as a means of extending their reach and expanding their audience. Here’s the BBC feed:

Many educators have done interesting things with Twitter as well. University of Texas media professor David Parry is a Twitter-teaching pioneer:

And Howard Rheingold has the most extensive collection of Twitter links I’ve seen:

Last but not least, here’s my Twitter …

If you were in Twitter, this is where you’d be:[friend, brand, client, blog name here]

Let me know if you’d like to Twitter. I’d be happy to help get you started.

[sign off]

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