Arment Dietrich

How Times Change: My Mom on Twitter?

By: Arment Dietrich | January 9, 2013 | 

Today’s guest post is by Allen Mireles.

We went home to Vermont for the holidays this year.

The morning after Christmas, some of the family sat around in my brother’s living room, chatting idly and sipping coffee.

I looked at my mom, sitting across from me on the couch next to my brother, absorbed in reading something on her iPad.

My mother, a youthful 76, has only just retired and lives quietly and happily in the mountains.

She has never been particularly enthralled with electronics or social media.

I was amused to see her using her iPad with such ease.

Then she mentioned her interest in joining Twitter.

Wait. What? I was dumbfounded. Speechless for a moment (something that happens infrequently).

I asked her to repeat what she had just said and then asked her why. She answered that she kept hearing her friends talk about Twitter and thought she might be able to get information on weather emergencies and things like that.

My mom is thinking about joining Twitter. How far we have come in just five short years.

The Backstory

Twitter is an online microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, called “tweets.” In 2012, 340 million tweets were shared daily. Seventy-five percent of the world’s heads of state are on Twitter, according to a survey released by the Digital Policy Council.

My mom on Twitter? I am all about people of every age embracing social media. Yet I struggle to imagine a world where my mom could confine her communications, written or spoken, to 140 characters. A trait I share. Ask anyone.

I joined Twitter on December 18, 2007. At that point in time it had about 500K users. I remember setting up my account, tentatively sending out my first inane tweet, then running away from it altogether. I didn’t understand how to use it, why I would want it or with whom I would communicate.

And yet, I was intrigued. I wanted to learn how to use it. I went back to it and fell down the Twitter rabbit hole. I became a Twitter fiend, spending countless hours tweeting, reading, and sharing other people’s tweets. I lurked for several years, reading and re-sharing the content of others but not creating my own.

Twitter Love

Twitter became a community and a place to learn. I read everything I could get my hands on and tried every new tool I stumbled across. I made new friends around the globe and found work through Twitter. I read about editors who wanted to be pitched stories in 140 characters or less. I showed clients how to incorporate Twitter into their marketing and public relations programs.

I was almost ridiculous in my enthusiasm and bored family, friends, and colleagues to tears with my endless chatter about its benefits.

Somehow, along the way, I settled on TweetDeck as the Twitter management tool that made the most sense to me. It allowed me to dip in and out of the Twitter conversations and comment with ease and to stay abreast of the information shared by people who I respected.

At a glance I could see who was talking about what and decide if I wanted to join the conversation. It was wonderful.

Change Bites

Then Twitter purchased TweetDeck. And updated it. Changing it from the tool I loved and used daily to something I hardly recognize and heartily dislike. The search for a replacement has been time consuming and frustrating. Hootsuite, an elegant solution, offers wonderful features but the columns are just too wide. I can’t enjoy the ability to dip in and suss things out at a glance anymore.

With Hootsuite I have to open the program, scroll through the fat columns and it takes too much time. Time I  don’t have these days. So I find myself having fewer conversations on Twitter.

I’ll have to retrain myself. I can do this. I can learn to find the utility in Hootsuite and quit whining about it.

After all, if my mom can even think about joining Twitter, I can train myself to use a new Twitter management tool, right?

Right. Grrrrr… tell me, what do you use? Do you love it? Hate it? Why?

Oh, and about my mom and Twitter. Turns out she really only wanted to be able to read Rachel Maddow’s updates and was delighted to find out she could do that without having to learn to use Twitter after all.

Allen Mireles is vice president at Arment Dietrich and is based outside of Toledo. She has diverse expertise in healthcare IT, manufacturing, and education. You can follow her on Twitter at allenmirelesadd her to your circles on G+, link to her on LinkedIn, or friend her on Facebook.

  • I’ve been using Hootsuite for a few years, so it does work for me. I guess I am better off not knowing what the old Tweek Deck was like. I do feel like I spend more time on FB than Twitter. I am forcing myself to learn G+ though. 
    I feel incredibly lucky that neither of my dear parents are on Twitter or Facebook, but they do text and finally got smart phones last week…time will tell. 🙂

    • @katskrieger My mom joined Facebook and dips in and out from time to time but doesn’t post. I was a bit surprised initially but have gotten used to the idea. I don’t think she love it though. Twitter now? A different issue altogether. One has to express a thought in 140 characters and that presents a challenge.What do you like most about Hootsuite?
      I am whining and complaining about finding the right Twitter management tool and need to just get over it, I suppose. I don’t love the Hootsuite fat columns or the new Tweedeck but I guess I will learn to–one way or another.

      • @allenmireles I do feel like I see more conversations in Hootsuite and managing responses is nice. Also as long as I have hootsuite open in a tab, it pulls up a twitter bio right within the dashboard when I am searching for them. I also dig the hootlet share tool, which is a buffer alternative and leaves my analytics in one place. 
        That all said, I am working on a Hubspot install and may start forgoing a lot of the tools I use to date. We will see.

        • @katskrieger I’ll be interested to hear how that goes for you and what tool you end up preferring. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • belllindsay

    So, true story. My older sister isn’t what you call techie. Like, I’m Steve Jobs compared to her. Then she got an IPad (which I’m still slightly miffed about) and joined Twitter. Then, one day a few months back, I get a notification that she wants to be friends on Facebook. I thought this was hilarious, and proceeded to go to her page. Then I saw the funniest thing ever. This: Beven Leger joined Facebook – 37 minutes ago. HAHAHAHA!! I laughed so hard. Everyone has had FB for years right? 🙂

    • @belllindsay That’s AWESOME Linds. And thanks agains for being such a great help this afternoon. 🙂

  • My mom and dad are on Facebook, but pretty sure they have no clue what Twitter is. I use both TweetDeck and Hootsuite. I use TweetDeck for Spin Sucks/AD stuff and Hootsuite for clients. I like that TweetDeck isn’t another page I have to keep open in my browser, it’s just on my desktop however I think Hootsuite is more user friendly and incorporates more social networks which helps me keep everything in one place…especially if you’re managing multiple social networks for multiple clients.

    • @yvettepistorio I have to agree with you on all of the points you’ve made and have also used Hootsuite for client stuff. It is ever-so-helpful to use two different Twitter clients so that one never inadvertently posts to the wrong Twitter ID. *shudder*

  • Yes sadly, Tweetdeck is not suite the tool it used to be.  I have tried Hootsuite as well, but it just doesn’t flow for me either. This was a cute story- we got my mum an ipad too, and it is amazing to see how far she has come with it- her last computer was, quite honestly, a Commodore 64 that burned in our house fire.

    • @RebeccaTodd Thanks Rebecca. I remember those Commodore 64’s. Glad your mom is enjoying her technology now. :)I still marvel at how dependent we can become on some of these tools. Not sure this is a good thing.

  • jonbuscall

    I like Hootsuite because it’s easy to use on all my devices but I enjoy TweetDeck on my iMac most of all. It’s good not having to have multiple tabs open all the time. 
    You can of course resize Hootsuite columns. That makes it a bit easier.

    • @jonbuscall You can???? I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything that addressed that. Found one help response from Hootsuite saying that columns are programed in scale with your monitor’s screen resolution, or something. Where can I find this valuable info? 😉

      • jonbuscall

        @allenmireles There’s a slider above the columns on the right. Just adjust. Below the search icon.

        • @jonbuscall I’ve tried the slider. That was my first effort. Unfortunately, the slider still leaves the columns so wide that I can’t see many at the same time, which means I have to scroll back and forth–the thing I used to not have to do. Thanks, though. 🙂

        • jonbuscall

          @allenmireles Have you tried adding other columns ? I find it easier to manage with five or six. It spaces out better.

  • I use hootsuite as well, but started off on Seesmic. I loved Seesmic, til Twitter pretty much made it not work. I tried Tweetdeck but it wasn’t to my liking. But for many of the same reasons you mention, i’m using Twitter less, even though it used to be my favorite. Now I spend more time on Facebook. 
    And my parents are on NOTHING. thankfully.

    • @KenMueller I tried Seesmic at one point but, for some odd reason, it never felt right. And this was several years ago. I think the way we embrace particular tools and become accustomed to them (and, in my case whiny when they are changed not to my liking) and even depend on them, is an interesting dynamic. And Ken? I’m also spending more time on Facebook these days. It’s fun to be able to speak in complete and long-winded sentences, lol. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      • @allenmireles  @KenMueller OMG I felt exactly the same way about Seesmic. Then I tried it right before the last time it majorly changed. Seems like everything I like, they change.

  • Allen Mireles

    When I joined Twitter in 2007 and became a “Twitter-fiend” talking about it non-stop, nobody was interested. Fast-forward to now and even my mom is interested? How times have changed. 🙂

  • I felt that way the year my father pulled out an iPod. They were new then, 2nd get MAYBE. And he knew everything about it, how to plug it in to some contraption and make it play music in different rooms. I was astounded. I was the techie of the household, though it was my father’s insistence that we always have a computer in the house that fed my curiosity. 
    Right now I’m using Tweetdeck, but I came after Twitter bought it. I only use it in my Chrome browser — most of the rest of the time I’m back on native Twitter. I never was a fan of any particular Twitter client, except briefly Tweetcaster on my phone at the time. Regular Twitter does the job for what I need because I don’t tend to multi-task there, or sink deeply into conversations – Twitter is a place of successive light touches for me. 
    I get your frustration though, because until summer 2011, Facebook’s last use to me was for conversation. It’s not even that anymore. I’ve been spoiled by the discussions I have at Google+ – even in my favorite group, the way the software wigs out on me no matter what I do, it limits my time on the platform. And things I use to overcome that remove me from the part of the Facebook expertise I still like.
    Maybe the solution is to build a new one? Twitter will probably try and buy that too but it’ll be fun while it lasts….

    • @Tinu I am grinning from ear to ear reading your comment, Tinu and can totally picture you with your Dad and the iPad. I think what I miss most is the ability to scan multiple columns and dip in and out of the Twitterstream easily. Oh well…change is good, right? Right.

  • Liz

    I use Hootsuite on my phone and Tweetdeck on my computers. Switch back and forth on the IPad. I am not a huge fan of any Twitter client but such in life. More importantly though? Good for your mom! See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

    • @Liz I agree. I don’t even believe in the concept of “old dogs” any more. Our elders are tending to be as vibrant and sharp and beautiful as we hope to be in our sunset years. And thank God because now growing older inspires me instead of sombers me.

      • Liz

        @Tinu I couldn’t agree more. My dad wows me regularly with his adoption of technology. And the man turns 87 this year!!!

    • @Liz Oh, she wasn’t serious about joining Twitter it turns out. She just wanted to read Rachel Maddow’s tweets, lol. I told her how to go to Maddow’s Twitter profile on her iPad and she was thrilled. But you’re right. You can teach an old dog new tricks. I know this firsthand, you know, being one and all. 😉

      • Liz

        @allenmireles I love that she was interested in the first place! Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree chica!

  • I kind of love that your mom was engrossed in her iPad. Do you have a picture of it?! I have a great photo of my mom and Mr. D – both on their phones – oblivious to the rest of the world. Also. After four days of using the new TweetDeck, I’m with you. I sucks. Guess I have to switch to something else, too. Bah.

    • @ginidietrich I don’t what there is to switch to, sadly. I think there might be a story in the search for these management tools and how fast things change or disappear. Went I started looking (as part of this “situation”) I found many of the tools that had existed earlier have gone defunct, been purchased by Twitter or Hootsuite (same diff) or don’t work the way I want. Don’t get me wrong, Hootsuite is an elegant tool, with impressive functionality but the columns are too damn FAT! *shakes head in dismay*

    • @ginidietrich Nope, no pics of that. We were all in bathrobes and if I’d tried, someone would have thought it amusing to take a picture of me And that would not have been a good idea. 🙂

  • I joined Twitter in December 2008 – and didn’t do much with it quite a while. I chanced upon a pretty vibrant hashtag locally (which I was monitoring for professional reasons related to an ad sales gig) about a year later. The rest, so they say, is history. 🙂