Even as it tries to fix its ongoing technical issues, Twitter is trying to spread the message that using the social network will have all kinds of beneficial effects on your life both online and offline. Its latest attempt to do this is “Twitter Tales,” a collection of stories from users about how the service has helped them or affected their lives, which launched today with a post on the Twitter blog. If this effort seems familiar, it could be because Facebook recently launched something very similar called Facebook Stories, in honor of its 500 millionth user.
In the Twitter blog post, communications staffer Carolyn Penn (@cpen) describes how the feature is designed to highlight “creative individuals and businesses from all corners of the world that help make Twitter awesome,” and that the company hopes these examples will “inspire others to use the service in innovative and interesting ways.” Users who want to be featured can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter, which says it plans to add new entries over the next several weeks, has chosen three stories to start off the new feature, illustrating the categories of Life, Community and Humor:
Life: @natashabadhwar is described as a mother/filmmaker/photographer/writer from New Delhi who says she sees Twitter as a form of self therapy. Her story says that she created her Twitter account in June 2009 and “used the service as a quiet and personal safe haven of sorts. It became an escape from other spaces, which seemed cluttered with superficial concerns and hollow outrage. Here, she could ask questions. She could seek change. She could give a voice to her innermost self.”
Community: Twitter calls @caltrain a crowd-sourced Twitter account where people can help others avoid pitfalls on their daily commute. The story describes how a self-described nerd named Ravi Pina created the account as a way for people to share news about the service, and now has “over 4,000 followers and more than 400 approved contributors.” However, the account is not officially endorsed by the California state government, which makes it an interesting choice for the company to profile.
Humor: @thebloggess provides a “witty and honest” behind-the-scenes look into her blog writing, according to Twitter. Her story says that her goal with the account was to entertain herself, and so it became “an irreverent, rebellious, oddly wig-filled, and utterly hilarious documentation of an otherwise normal(ish) life.” Among other things, the story describes her attempt to get William Shatner to come over to her house for dinner.
Facebook’s Stories seem more serious, or at least the ones highlighted by the company do, including how “a woman’s Facebook status updates from her mobile phone become a lifeline for her and a group of 36 people traveling in Haiti during the earthquake,” as well as the story of how “after 15 years apart, a father reconnects with his daughter through Facebook.” But the new Twitter feature seems designed to accomplish the same goal as the Facebook project (and a similar Google series): namely, to de-mystify the social network, and to humanize it as well — and in Twitter’s case, to get past the perception that the service is filled with people talking about what they had for lunch.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): How Twitter Is Re-Engineering to Address Always-On Usage