The topic of social media came up recently in my coaching program (the Radio Rant). People are understandably baffled by the cornucopia of ways available to gossip and reach out to touch other people.

And nobody has 4,000 friends. I don’t care what your Facebook total is.

Yet, many top online marketers (and politicians and journalists and probably the guy making subs at Quiznos) are obsessively writing 140-character neo-haiku on Twitter, including me. I’ve had an account since last summer, and I play around with it almost daily for weeks at a time.

Then I get bored and ignore it.

I doubt that it’s having much of an effect on my marketing results, but I have reconnected with a few old friends across the globe. Of course, I could have just as easily reconnected with them via e-mail, actual mail, or the phone. (Does anybody say “telephone” anymore?) But, no, it’s been Twitter.

And I’m not sure what to make of this.

I find it odd that a good pal will tweet something, I’ll reply (with my typical charm and wit) within seconds… and he won’t even see my reply. It gets buried in the avalanche of responses from his 4,000 followers.

And I’m starting to suspect that (like Britney Spears) some of my friends aren’t actually doing their own tweeting. They’re hiring some ghostwriter drones to do it for them.

For me, the “social” part of social media is murdered in its sleep when so little actual interaction takes place.
About 20 percent of the time I use Twitter to announce biz stuff – a new launch, a new product. The rest of the time, I’m performing pure social interaction. I am seeking the give-and-take of witty repartee, like the brassy (and extremely funny) sessions I have with other writers in a bar after a hard day of seminar presentations.

The advantage of Twitter is that it’s instant interaction. You tweet, and folks respond.

The DISadvantage of Twitter is the same instant interaction element.

A blog post stays up until you post again. People come to a blog, and read the first post – so if you put up something of value, you can engage large numbers of people with it. Plus, you can archive it, making it easy for people to access even years later. (I’m always getting comments on old blog posts from three and five years ago. Not sure why year four gets no respect.)

No such archiving exists with Twitter.

Just as at a real party, your witticisms and brilliant observations pass into the ether as soon as you make them. Within minutes, others tweet and move you off the main page.

If you’re following more than a few people, you might have hundreds of tweets in an hour or so. Anything you missed is long gone… unless you have time on your hands and can’t think of anything better to do than drift lazily through a thousand old tweets looking for something interesting.

I’ve heard it called texting for adults, and maybe that’s accurate.

My nephew, in college, uses Twitter as a way to define his personality. His tweets are little bits of language art, absurd or weird or confusing (kind of like Seinfeld asides). He’s establishing himself as smart and irreverent.

I tweeted today, several times. Tried to communicate with someone (no reply), left a smart-ass comment with someone else (they loved it), offered up some news stories for general consumption (no consensus yet on what my followers think about any of it).

And I’ll probably announce the posting of this article on Twitter later tonight.

But I don’t think Twitter can last long as it is. It has to be monetized – changed dramatically – or vanish. That much is (almost) for certain. I see my colleagues frantically searching for ways to monetize their Twitter accounts. The Holy Grail would be to discover a tactic that justifies the time we spend telling strangers where we’re at and what we’re doing.

Well… what do YOU think?

Are you using ANY of the big social media very much? (Blogs don’t count. Blogs rock.)

Can you swear to me that you’ve seen actual monetary results?

I’d like to know. Post your comments right here.

[Ed. Note: John Carlton is an expert copywriter, a pioneer in online marketing, and a teacher of killer sales copy. He knows marketing inside and out. Discover how to get your hands on the kick-ass secrets of the world’s smartest, happiest, and wealthiest marketers right here.]

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John Carlton

John Carlton slyly refers to himself as “the most ripped-off copywriter on the Web”, and almost no one on the inside of the online entrepreneurial world disagrees. His sales copy has been stalked for decades by many of the best marketers both online and offline… and they freely admit using John’s ads as templates for their own breakthrough pitches.