Twitter is the fastest way to access new ideas, people and places. Let's first bust some myths and then share ideas why Twitter is actually great. And just for the record, it took me two years to understand it is great, so my advice is to get started with it now!
1) You don't have to tweet yourself to use Twitter
The great mis-conception many women have is that Twitter is about tweeting what you do all today. It is not. Some celebrities have given Twitter quite a funny reputation, but in Twitter, as in real life, you can choose your surroundings and who you hang out with. However, you can define your Twitter-world much better than you can define your real world. Follow people who are insightful and who share interesting topics and links, not people who tweet about what they are having for breakfast. You don't have to say anything (it's boring I think but a good strategy to get started), you will get a lot out of Twitter by seeing what other people have to say and what do they share.
2) Facebook is inside and Twitter is outside your comfort zone
Facebook is fun. For most women, including myself, it is about sharing pictures of kids and holidays with my family and friends. My Facebook friends are limited to real world friends. My criteria is I would go our for a drink with people who are my Facebook friends. This cosy little circle seldom teaches me new things or radially changes my thinking. There are a few exceptions of course.
On Twitter I hardly know anyone I follow or who follows me. That is why it is not a place for baby updates or shoe shopping tips (unless that is what you are about which is then great!). And therefore it is a perfect place to be exposed to a lot of great new stuff! I follow people who can expand my thinking, who can link me to great content and through whom I get introduced to new interesting people. I have found the best ideas for my business, benchmarks, brands and blogs through Twitter which I don't think I would have come across otherwise. It has been an absolutely invaluable tool for exploring!
3) You don't have to spend a lot of time but you can still get a lot out of it
I've dived into Twitter mainly in the evenings. It has taken me two years to really start to understand how it can and should be used. I am on Twitter instead of wasting my time watching some pointless crap on TV. You could allocate 30 minutes a week for this and it would be a good start. A year from now you would have spent 26 hours on Twitter and I bet you'd be much wiser for it!
My advice is to start exploring and following people with whom you share common interest, but also people who are little outside of your daily comfort zone. I don't follow people who are famous or who are funny. For me it is not about knowing what celebrities are up to. I click on links and see where they take me. I am eager to learn new things and get ideas. It is important to click on links otherwise you are just looking at the surface and miss all the juicy bits so don't be lazy! After a while you will see what you like and who you like. Like in real life, people have very different tweeting styles. Some want to be fully, some want to be smart and some are plain annoying. Like in real life, you can get rid of people, but in Twitter it is just so much easier and no-one will get offended.
4) You can strengthen real life relationships
You may not be on Twitter but a lot of people around you are! If you meet a person in a meeting or in a party who you'd like to get to know a little better it may be a bit intrusive to start sending them emails or making phone calls. Perhaps you can ask to meet them for a cup of coffee, but people are busy and you haven't quite made the cut to become a real new friend yet. Use Twitter. Send them a thank you note relating to the discussion you had when you met them. Tell them you like what they are doing or the business they are involved in. They will appreciate that. It is important to do it as soon as possible as the nature of Twitter is instant. Next day is still ok but one week later is lazy Twitter behaviour.
5) You can help others by sharing their ideas
It took me a long time to understand how 'retweeting' actually works. Sure, you click on a button and someone's tweet comes up as a 'retweet' to your followers. What I mean is that until I had a message I eagerly wanted to spread I didn't appreciate how happy one 'retweet' can make someone. Sounds silly and I noticed that people who don't tweet don't understand it. Once you get that happiness of your first 'retweet' then you know you got it! So if you find a person who's tweets are really interesting, why not start retweeting them. They will appreciate it more than you think. They are then more likely to follow you and hear out what you have to say. #sharingiscaring
6) You can meet new people
Let's imagine you wanted to broaden your life and meet new people. Real life networking is naturally a great avenue. You may also be able to find new friends on Twitter! I have been interviewing great entrepreneurial women who build businesses based on their passion and I have found many of them through Twitter links. And now I have actually met many of them in flesh and it is fantastic!
7) There is a whole world out there
Sure, internet has already brought the whole world to us. In Twitter you experience everything through people - their comments, their photos, their news links, their blogs - and it becomes so much more interesting. It adds a wonderful personal touch to the whole experience of consuming the web.
Give it a go. If you are sceptical and think it is pointless, then swap the time you spend on something 'pointless' right now for this for a couple of weeks. There really is nothing to loose!