5 Easy Ways to Explain Twitter Without the Geek Garbage

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It seems like a lot of us tech people find it hard to explain the tools we use on a regular basis. I don’t think the problem lies with how complex our tools are. The problem is that, as geeks, we usually make things too complicated. I’m definitely guilty of this and those close to me point it out all the time.

It’s like trying to explain what a computer does by starting with how microchips work. Who cares about all that? Normal people just want to know how something benefits them. How can it fit into their lives? Nobody cares how a microwave works, they just know it makes food hot. Nobody cares what HD really means, they just know it makes sports look really good and allows you to see how many people on TV actually wear make-up.

Now, here are 5 easy scenarios that you can use to explain Twitter to regular people:

1. It’s a way to let your friends know what you’re doing all at the same time

Let’s say you decide to have a little get-together. You could call all your friends individually, you could email them, you could even text each one. With Twitter, all you’d have to do is send one status update and all your friends will see it immediately. They could even respond to let you know they will be there.

None of this has to involve direct contact with a computer because Twitter supports SMS. You could be handling all the initial preparations right from your cell. No making fifty calls to give out directions, tell who to bring what or any of that mess.

2. It’s a way to ask your friends a question

You’re watching TV and you can’t remember the name of this actor, it’s driving you nuts. You’re pretty sure one of your friends knows, so you update your Twitter status:

Hey, anyone know the name of the black guy on House? Total brain fart.

Pretty soon, someone sends you a reply, reminding you that it’s Omar Epps.

3. It’s a way to share important news

You hear breaking news about a tornado sighting. Your kid’s team just won the playoff game. Kroger has 2-liter bottles of Coke 10 for a dollar. You just ate the tastiest mango you have ever had in your life! Whatever the scenario, you can let everyone know what’s going on immediately my sending out one simple update.

4. It’s a way to get important news

In the same way that you can quickly share news with others, you can get news updates. Not only can you get news updates from your friends, but you could actually follow CNN, MSNBC, BBC or maybe your local news network. Whatever you want to know about, there is probably a reliable source for it on Twitter and you can listen in and stay up-to-date.

5. It’s a way to strengthen relationships with those you care about

My family is pretty much scattered across the US. It’s even sometimes hard to stay in touch with local friends and family. Sometimes, you don’t have time to reach out and touch someone. You know you want to stay in contact, but maybe you don’t do small talk too well or you just don’t enjoy discussing the weather. Maybe you know people who gossip too much and you don’t want to deal with it, but you still want to stay close because they are your family.

Twitter allows you to maintain that connection with loved ones, without all the bells and whistles. You don’t have to talk to them directly to remain connected and stay in touch. You keep track of their updates, they keep track of yours. You maintain a bond with minimal effort. If you so choose to have a discussion, the option is always there. This may sound like an impersonal solution, but what’s the alternative? Falling out of touch with those you actually care about?


These are just a few examples to maybe spark a fire in your mind. Those of us familiar with social media tools often struggle to explain them. They don’t end up getting used by the general public because we can’t even tell the general public what the point is. It almost boils down to one of the most basic rules of sales:

Features tell, benefits sell

Stop trying to describe tech tools by gushing about how scalable they are, how clean the website is, what random tech blogger guy is behind it. Nobody cares about any of that. All they want to know is what will it do to increase the quality of their life.

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