If you’re still unsure about Twitter and what it’s all about, you’re not alone.  A recent article in PC World states that 60 percent of new users become disenfranchised within their first month of Tweeting and give up.  All things considered, many wonder why anyone would even want to create a Twitter account in the first place if it’s so difficult to use.  Listed below are three of the common complaints non-users have and why these misunderstood “issues” have, actually, helped make Twitter the 9th most used site in the world.

  1. 140 character limit on Tweets
  2. Confusing Symbols and Terminology
  3. Irrelevant Trending Topics

Criticism 1: 140 Characters – or less…
One of Twitter’s biggest criticisms since it’s conception has been the 140 character limit put on Tweets.  Some claim it’s near impossible to say anything valuable in such a limited amount of space.

Response: Someone who can articulately communicate an intellectual, useful or funny message in 140 characters or less is someone who has taken the time to put their thoughts together.  Twitter is not a place to ramble on.  Quite frankly, that’s one of the best parts about it!  Finding scanable, concise and easy to read information designed for web viewing… what more could a person ask for?

Criticism 2: What the #@#@ do these symbols mean?!?
Twitter’s use of hash tags (#) and @’s has no doubt contributed to a lengthy list of confused individuals.  For many, learning how to use these symbols properly is a waste of time when they could just use Facebook and not have to worry about any of the nonsense.

Response: Twitter is a phenomenal place to share information, and an equally great place to find it, largely due to the fact that t it allows people to categorize their Tweets based on any topic, phrase or description they like.  Hash tags (#) aren’t meant to confuse users; they’re meant to give users a way to categorize their posts.  These categorizations allow those looking for specific topics to find them more efficiently.  For example, if I wanted to search for conversations about Charlie Sheen, I could search specific keywords that I know people have been using while talking about him, i.e., tiger blood, winning, two and a half men, etc.  Take a look at how these descriptors are used as hash tags in the screenshot of an actual user’s Tweet below:

Using Hash tags in Twitter

In a similar sense, as hash tags (#) are meant to categorize information, @’s are meant to indicate a Twitter user’s profile.  Nothing confusing here.  Just remember that if there’s an @ in front of a word, i.e, @DoyleMarketing, @Starbucks, @chrisbrogan you’re looking at a person who’s been mentioned in a Tweet.  Check out the example below of Starbucks mentioning USA Today in a recent Tweet.

Using @'s in Twitter

Criticism 3: THIS… is what’s “Trending?”
New Twitter users often struggle to grasp the concept of the what’s “trending” on Twitter.  Often times they’re unfamiliar with the topics that appear to be popular and feel uninterested, out of the loop or uncomfortable with their lack of knowledge about this feature.   And why does it matter what they talk about if it’s not relevant to what’s “trending?”

Response: The first thing to keep in mind about what’s “trending” on Twitter is that there are millions of users across the world Tweeting every single day, so anything can trend.  If a large group of people are making mention of something, then their topic of discussion, phrase or hash tag, can find itself trending.  That being said, the topics that appear as “trending” on the right-hand side of a user’s profile are, by default, set to display “wordwide” trends.  If a user can’t find anything relevant to them, they can always take a look and see what’s “trending” locally too.  Twitter allows users to see what’s being talked about in the specific cities and countries that they live in or around.  If all else fails, users don’t need to worry about what’s “trending.”  They can just Tweet about their own interests and passions and start a new trend themselves.  The beauty is that no matter where a person’s interests lay, it’s almost guaranteed that they can align themselves with like-minded individuals and information via  Twitter.

A Suggestion
Using Twitter on a mobile device helps users keep up with the real-time updates it provides and can also help one feel more connected to their friends and followers.  When Twitter begins to seem like an interactive community of friends, contacts and people of interest, it becomes less of an ambiguous space people know they should be occupying, but aren’t sure how.  When used regularly, it turns into a useful, informational, fun and, at times addictive, tool.