Twitter Isn't a Bird-Brained Idea

Short real-time messages can provide real value.

By Traci Purdum, senior digital editor

This whole social media frenzy makes me feel old —or, at the very least, uncool and out of the loop. Social media facilitates communications, influence and interaction with peers and a public audience via the Internet and mobile communications networks. I'm all for communication, it's the vehicle used to communicate that makes me realize I'm in an advanced-age demographic.

But heeding the warning that Bob Dylan warbled out decades ago, I figure I better start swimmin' or I'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin'. And yes, I listen to Dylan instead of the Jonas Brothers.

To be fair to myself, I've had personal accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn for a while. But the one social media tool that perplexed me was Twitter.

If you don't know what Twitter is, let me enlighten you. Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to post their latest updates (called Tweets) and stay connected to others in real time. An update is limited to 140 characters.

Does that clear things up? It certainly tells you what Twitter is. But the big question remains — what's the point? (FYI: this paragraph has 153 characters.)

In the beginning, I wasn't sure there was a point. However, to earn my keep as a digital editor, I set up a Twitter account for Chemical Processing — Soon people started following Tweets from Chem_Processing on Twitter, and in kind I started following those people's. It turns out that by following folks in like-minded industries, you can learn a lot from their Tweets.

For example, I learned that BASF was hosting a podcast on how chemistry makes wind energy more economic. And in turn, the Chem_Processing followers get updates each time something new is posted to the Web site.

You can use Twitter for daily updates about Ask the Expert Q&A, products, news, articles and more on You'll even get a sneak peak at upcoming stories to keep you ahead of the curve.
As a tool to keep readers informed, Twitter is proving it has a purpose. And I must admit I now feel like I’m part of the current conversation. Too bad I don't feel any younger.

Here's to Twitter and Tweets. I look forward to following you.

Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can e-mail her at You can Tweet her at

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