Sure, the Book of Face is the big green hulking monster of social media right now. You don’t want to see him when he’s angry.
And yes, it has more money than God.
HOWEVER: Just like Ang Lee is a talented director who never in a million years should have touched the story of Lou Ferrigno Wearing Green Body Paint, the Book of Face is a powerful monster … and exactly the wrong tool for people who actually want to get things done.
Reason No. 5: Facebook is really for friends and family
If your goal is to share wedding photos with family who are across the country, or on the other side of the world, sure, Facebook is perfect. Post every photo you’ve got.
And if you want to find old buddies you knew in college, high school or Initech, then Facebook is the right tool for that job.
Also, the Book of Face is fine for playing Farmville or whatever, though my first act as dictator for life would be to ban requests from Farmville, Mafia Wars, Shopping Girl and all that other nonsense.
Is it the right tool for meeting people around the world? No.
Is it a good tool for chatting with experts who are in your field? No.
And is it something that’s easy to pop in and out of? No.
Reason No. 4: Twitter makes you a better writer
Writing anything in just 140 characters is quite tough.
Twitter makes you write — and think — in soundbites. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING.
In fact, it’s beautiful, and one of the toughest skills to master.
Because less is more.
Let’s say it in French: Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue parceque je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. — Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales
Translation: “I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short.”
Short takes work. That work is worth it.
The more you practice making your words tight, the better you’ll become as a writer.
Reason No. 3: Facebook is invasive
If you let it, Facebook will track every web site you visit. Every click you make, every breath you take, it’ll be watching you.
And with this new Timeline thing, every moment of your life is on display. Technically, it’s possible to edit and delete all that stuff, though it is a tremendous PITA.
All this Big Brother horsepucky makes you far less likely to truly use Facebook to meet new people.
And that’s the real purpose of social networking in the first place. Meeting new people. Making new connections. Talking to people, around the world, who are passionate about the same things you are, whether it’s miniature schnauzers, model trains or romance novels featuring men in kilts.
This is why people tend to really love Facebook at first, then peter out and stop using it. There are only so many people in the world who I want to give access to all kinds of family photos and random snapshots a friend took of me at a bar in Kentucky.
The invasive and intimate nature of Facebook makes it tough truly reach out to people you don’t already know. Are you going to “friend” somebody from Ireland who you don’t know at all, and give them access to every little bit of your personal life, just to START talking to them?
No. That’s backward. It’s like you’ve got to invite people over to your house for dinner before you shake hands and say hello.
Reason No. 2: Twitter is made for making friends
There’s no pressure. There’s no worry about giving people access to all your private photos and an online biography of your entire life.
Twitter is a happy little bar where the drinks are free.
You don’t need to “friend” somebody to chat with them. It’s not a flipping crisis requiring therapy if you don’t follow them, or start to follow and then unfollow later. You can still see their tweets if you really want, and talk to them.
No big deal.
And since tweets are limited to 140 characters, nobody can put you in a coma.
Making new friends on Twitter is painless and easy. You can chat with all kinds of people who you would never (a) friend on Facebook, (b) send a random email to or (c) call on the phone.
Reason No. 1: Free ink and airtime
Twitter is the best tool not just for social media, but for regular media.
There’s a reason why ESPN, The Colbert Report, CNN, MSNBC and every other TV station with letters of the alphabet are talking about tweets all the time, live and on the air.
Because tweets make for easy news.
The media needs soundbites, which are hard to find.
Twitter gives you instant soundbites, whether it’s from regular viewers responding to questions from the host, professional football players making news by tweeting insane things or cat-fights between rap stars and Hollywood types via snarky tweets.
Take it from a former reporter: tweets are like catnip for newsrooms.
Reporters drown in emailed press releases. You would not believe how many they get every day — hundreds is not an exaggeration. Their inbox gets so full, a lot of reporters don’t bother reading them.
They’d rather get their tips from tweets, because (a) they can see the tweet in a quick glance, (b) they don’t have to open every email, read it and delete it and (c) they can reply right away or click on the link to get more while (d) getting a response by email is almost always slower.
And journalists hate nothing more than Things that are Slow, because they are forever on deadline, and always trying to break news.
Reason No. 1 also combines with Reason No. 4, since all the tweets you’ve written in just 140 characters have not only made you a better, tighter writer, they’ve also taught you to write in headlines, soundbites and pitches.
That is some sneaky penmonkey magic right there.
Now, I’m not saying Twitter is a replacement for mass media and publicity. Not at all.
Twitter isn’t made to sell things. Don’t try to pimp your book / album / movie with a bunch of tweets. Just don’t. Are you tempted? Read this: The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
Twitter is made for making new friends. Use it for that.
Now, there will always be new social media sites like Pinterest popping up, becoming the hot new thing. Twitter may grow bigger and start buying up companies, or it may get slaughtered by something that hasn’t been invented yet. Same with Facebook.
The thing that won’t change is that you need different tools for different jobs.
Tools like Facebook keep your current friends and family happy. They want to know when your birthday is, so they can send a note. Wedding photos and baby pictures are stuff friends and family want to see.
Tools like Twitter are for entirely different purposes. Twitter-like objects are for meeting new people, for chatting with fellow soccer maniacs or writers of cozy mysteries involving talking cats.
(Talking cat cozies — am I kidding? No. Click here to read the first page of A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER)
Completely different tools. One’s a hammer, one’s a screwdriver. Don’t get them mixed up.
But if you only have time for one, and you’re some kind of writer / musician / actor looking to bust through, pick Twitter.
Related posts. Read this stuff. DO IT NOW. Then tell your peoples, so they don’t waste time hiking down the same dead-end paths.
- You can pitch ANYTHING except quality
- Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection
- How to write KILLER headlines and hooks
- 11 brutally useful posts on publicity for writers
Special note: This is my 100th post, and the posts will come more often now that my busy season is over. Got an idea for a post? Are you a writer, editor or author dying to write a crazy guest post that you couldn’t pull off on your own blog? Shoot me a note on Twitter @speechwriterguy — and, yes, I tied this back to Twitter. NOT AN ACCIDENT.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.