Guest Commentary

By Scott Sumpter


What I’ve learned about Twitter


I’m a tweeter. There I said it.

How did it happen?

Well, I’ve been a “tweeter” for about 18 months now. I considered myself a pretty in-tune technology guy, and I’d been hearing the buzz “Twitter this” and “Twitter that.” I began doing a little research. Facebook was a bigger buzz at the time, but there was something about this “Twitter thing.”

I know my plate is always full with the BIKEIOWA site and that last thing I needed was something else to keep updated, right?

I was already a member of Facebook and even in the midst of that “friending frenzy,” I still was barley updating my profile. The Twitter intrigue got the best of me, and I signed up with the url of
My first tweet: “just joined twitter!”

My second tweet: “posting Big Wheel Rally 2009 photos & video. Over $10,000 raised for children’s cancer!”

I started following some local “social hipsters” like Mark Hollander and Ben Stone. I watched what they were posting and who they were following. I began to see potential not only in what I could post, but what I could learn.
Sorry, Facebookers. I don’t care what you had for breakfast, what kind of chicken you found on the farm, or if you took an hour off work to get that hangnail looked at.
Fast forward to today.

Today BIKEIOWA has posted 438 tweets, has 434 followers and follows 149 tweeters from all over the USA.

Not a ton of posts and not thousands of followers like some, but enough to know how to ride the horse at a steady trot.

I followed famous cyclists like Gary Fisher, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, and Ivan Basso.

I followed other cycling sites such as Cyclocross Magazine, Dirt Rag, Bike Houston, San Francisco Bike Coalition, Bikes Belong, Bike Hugger and about 75 others.

I followed endurance freaks like Jeff Kerkove, Guitar Ted and Steve Fuller.
I followed Iowa cyclists like Stevie Robinson, Walter Githens, Steve Fry, Keely Shannon, Tim Putnam, Heather Myer-Davis, House of Husar, Bob Skidmore, RAGBRAI TJ, David Ertl, Ryan Hanser and many more.

I followed tweeters who promote Iowa towns, trails and the music scene like Cedar Falls, Iowa Bike Trail, Cityview, Travel Iowa, Ankeny News and more.
I followed el Bait Shop, Templeton Rye, New Belgium Brewery, Spindustry Systems, Spoke9, High Life Lounge and other misc tweeters that tweak my tweeting interest for one reason or another.

Twitter was something I could control. I could “follow” folks who posted stuff that I was interested in.

What I’ve learned — 0 to 438 tweets in 18 months.

I’ve learned I like Twitter more than I like Facebook.

I’ve learned that you can say almost anything in 140 characters or less.
I’ve learned that you can get to know someone pretty well in 140 characters or less.

I’ve learned that wittiness and humor count. My 200th (or so) tweet “32 feet of noodles in every can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Go figure.”
I’ve learned that a good re-tweet is worth a thousands words even if it is really only 140 characters or less.

I’ve learned that I can tweet something quicker than I post to BIKEIOWA. I can tweet from anywhere in about 20 seconds.

I’ve learned that most tweeters tweet with a focus — cycling, programming, advocacy, etc.

I’ve learned what hash-tags are #Really #Geeky.
I’ve learned that tweeting can release stress. My 215th (or so) tweet —”Preparing for new site format. Writing queries to reclassify 11,037 news, articles and events. #UGLY”.

I’ve learned that Twitter can serve a purpose. Especially for BIKEIOWA.
I’ve used it to post personal information, info about upcoming rides, fallen trees on a trail, new bikes, beer specials, YouTube videos, trail updates, etc.

I’ve pimped the BIKEIOWA sponsors, gotten folks ready for a ride, posted minute-by-minute action in a City Council Meeting for Ingersoll bike lanes, asked for feedback on trails maps, had fun with the 2010 RAGBRAI route rumors and lots more.

I’ve learned that Twitter has become a part of my daily routine. An old dog can learn new tricks. CV


Scott Sumpter owns and operates He is an avid year round cyclist. Off the bicycle, Scott works for Wells Fargo in West Des Moines as an application developer. Follow bikeiowa at


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