Here's what you need to know about Twitter. If you have an inner circle of friends, and outer circle of contacts, but you don't have a "far outer circle", then the Web application may not be for you. If you think you do have a far outer circle of contacts—keep reading.
I currently have close to 1200 people "following me" on Twitter. Are they my friends? Some of them are. Are they friends in my inner circle—people I talk with daily? Most of them aren't. Twitter helps me engage with and stay in touch with all 3 circles, but perhaps is most effective with my "far outer circle" of contacts.
Who are they? Well, they are the people who I may not be in regular contact through face to face, phone or even e-mail, but we can connect on Twitter and occasionally swap stories, links, jokes or whatever. And sometimes we're not talking with each other, but "broadcasting" news or links that you are never forced to read and don't clog your in box.
Not all of us have "far outer circles" of contacts—but if you are active on multiple social networks, then it's likely that you do. I've described a similar phenomenon as "office influentials"—something that we are seeing as being more commonplace in the work force. People with unusually large networks who are typically active across multiple forms of social media.
Twitter isn't just for folks with large networks—anyone can use it, but the power and influence of the social application is often times related to the size and quality of the personal network. Here's how I described Twitter nearly a year ago on BusinessWeek:
Twitter allows users to send and receive abbreviated communications or "digital shorthand" from a computer or mobile device. These are called "Tweets." The open-source nature of the application has spawned countless "mash-ups" where Twitter technology merges seamlessly with other open-source technologies such as Google (GOOG) Maps. Widgets and desktop applications such as Twitteroo and Twitterific take you outside of the browser and act as a sort of social instant messenger, sending and receiving rapid bursts of text and links.
Twitter can send and receive feeds. I now receive my news headlines from the service, getting up to speed from media sources such as CNN and The New York Times. That's why I call Twitter a conversation ecosystem—it supports multiple touch points of content and dialogue."
It's nearly a year later and what I would add to this is what I am saying here. Twitter is especially useful for managing your "far outer circle" which ironically makes it feel more like your "inner circle". It's not for everyone—but I like it. You can find me on Twitter here.