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To twitter or not to twitter…

Today I am going to discuss the merits of using Twitter for personal and business uses. Twitter has taken the world by storm, so much that it has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses. But why is it such a powerful tool?

Twitter was released late 2006/early 2007 and since then has gained immense popularity. The service allows you to post messages of up to 140 characters (the character limit for an SMS message) for your followers to view. Although this may seem like a limitation it allows people to SMS twitter updates to their followers anywhere and anytime.

Twitter for Business
The ability to broadcast a message simultaneously to hundreds/thousands/millions of users has its advantages especially when it comes to advertising. Politicians are one such group of users who have used the service to broadcast their campaigns to their followers. Barack Obama, is an example of a politician who used Twitter quite successfully in his campaign to win over many voters, (Condon, 2008). For politicians, Twitter is a way of sharing their personal thoughts and becoming closer to their supporters. It is a method of showing their “human-ness”. You can follow Barack Obama at:  http://twitter.com/BarackObama

Businesses also use Twitter to broadcast promotions, specials, new product lines and so on to their customers such as Google. The tweets are short and to the point giving customers instant information. The tweet isn’t “overselling” the company’s brand but simply providing the best offers to their customers. On the other hand, Twitter is used by some companies to alert their customers of failures in service. An example that some of us are quite familiar with is TransLinkSEQ. It is handy for customers to receive these updates via their internet-capable mobile device and stay up to date on the latest news/offers.

Twitter for the Individual
On a more personal note, Twitter is used by many to update friends on their status. Personally, I don’t feel the need to let people know what I’m doing every moment of the day, but for some this has become part of their life not only with Twitter but other applications such as Facebook and MySpace. I still need persuading as to whether or not Twitter will benefit me personally as a tool for updating my friends, however, if I ever need to promote myself to the wider community; it is hard to go past Twitter. Let me know if you have an opinion on this. Are you using Twitter between friends? Maybe you can give me some good reasons to finally give in and jump on the band wagon.

I found a great blog about “selectively ignoring” twitter content or users that don’t appeal to you and focusing on the relevant content here. Mike Lewis discusses how he finds his information on Twitter (Lewis, 2009).

After doing some more research, I’ve also found that Twitter will soon be released on the Xbox 360 (Microsoft, 2009). As well as Facebook, Last.FM and Zune video. Twitter is taking over the world. Maybe I will use it now on my Xbox 360. I don’t have Twitter on my phone so via the Xbox 360 it will be easier and more convenient than visiting http://twitter.com

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/benmccallum maybe one day I’ll tweet something useful :).

Also, feel free to comment this blog with your thoughts about Twitter. Is it useful? How do you use it?

References
Condon, S. (2008). Barack Obama Dominates Twitter. Retrieved, August 13, 2009, from, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10016399-93.html

Facebook, Twitter Coming to Xbox Live on the 360. Retrieved, August 13, 2009, from, http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/01/facebook-twitter-on-xbox-live-this-fall/

Microsoft. (2009). Dashboard Updates: Xbox Live Update. Retrieved, August 13, 2009, from, http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/systemupdates/default.htm

Twitter. (2009). Twitter. Retrieved, August 13, 2009, from http://twitter.com/

Lewis, M. (2009). Selectively Ignore: It’s OK to “Tune Out” on Twitter. Retrieved, August 18, 2009, from, http://www.awarenessnetworks.com/default.asp?item=2401035

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12 thoughts on “To twitter or not to twitter…

  1. Your post is very well written and raises some interesting points, Ben – I had no idea that twitter is going to be offered on the 360!

    For me, twitter has become a part of my life, allowing me to converse with interesting people and increase my online presence. In an attempt to “persuade” you to use twitter, I think it’s worth noting that most people don’t use it to simply let people know what they’re doing — it’s a medium to have conversations and meet new people.

    I too have written a post about twitter, you can take a look here: http://chrisdoble.net/2009/08/12/twitter-for-business.html

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Chris

  2. Hi Ben,

    I agree with you, I believe that I would definitely suggest people to use Facebook (instead of Twitter), if they are looking for an app that allows them to stay connected with friends.

    I mainly use Twitter to keep myself updated with the latest news or trends in the world (IT or non-IT), I think it’s quite useful to me because this is like a centralized resource/information platform, I no longer need to browse through a number of sites in order to get the info I want (but of course you got to follow other users/communities, especially those on the top).

    Similar ideas I’ve been mentioning about on my blog, Twitter can be either useful or absolutely time wasting, depending on how it is used.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, they are quite useful.

    -Jeffrey

    • benmccallum on said:

      Yea I’ve recently subscribed to a few technology-based people on twitter such as Xbox 360 and Google. It’ll be interesting to see what they say as I start following their tweets. Thanks for the reply mate.

  3. Tweetdeck makes Twitter so much more relevant and enjoyable. Further info at http://www.petewildermuth.com/2009/08/tweetdeck-vs-wefollow/

    • benmccallum on said:

      Hey Pete,
      I’ve heard of followme.com! Funnily enough a friend doing this subject also had a business idea of making a site similar to followme.com until he found out it already existed in followme.com and was made by the creator of Digg haha. As for Tweetdeck I’ll have to give it a try, perhaps when I get a few more followers and start tweeting more it’ll become more handy.
      Thanks,
      Ben

  4. Hi Ben,

    I’ve recently joined twitter not knowing if it was something I should do. I’ve included my twitter updates on my wordpress site (like you have), and also got a twitter app on my iPhone that I’ve used a few times.

    I think it is something that as you said is going to become popular and I’ve held off joining for a while so I’m just giving it a go now. Still not convinced its something I need to do.

    Interestingly Facebook is looking at ways to compete with twitter with Facebook Lite which you can have a quick read about here – http://www.techspot.com/news/35810-facebook-to-rival-twitter-with-facebook-lite.html

    • benmccallum on said:

      Hey thanks for the reply,
      I’ve heard about Facebook Lite. Sounds interesting but whether people use it will be more interesting. It sounds like it’ll be something in between the mobile version and the browser version so if people just use it for status updates they may as well use the http://m.facebook.com site.
      Seems like Facebook are going on a huge offensive considering they also bought FriendFeed. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can compete against Twitter in the micro-blogging market.
      -Ben

      • I went and have a look at both m.Facebook and Facebook Lite (screenshot), I thought they’re very simiar to each other, plus are both provided by Facebook, so why two versions..?

      • benmccallum on said:

        Yea, I’m not sure myself. I guess the new version will be more advanced and perhaps more focused on the micro-blogging/twitter-esque side of things. We’ll have to wait and see.

  5. Pernilles blog on said:

    Hi Ben,

    I agree with you.

    I have not really grasped the advantage for me to use Twitter either. All though I can see the advantage for businesses following Twitter and using Twitter if for example you are participating in a specific field of research, for example while writing a PhD where others thoughts in the same field can provide input and inspiration to your work (wisdom of crowds). In this regard Twitter can be a more useful tool than Facebook because people update their profile much more regularly. But this is only if they Twitter about a specific topic.

    I dont feel the urge to inform people what Im doing all the time and in a lot of cases I really dont care what other people do if its as interesting as ‘watching TV’, ‘eating dinner’, ‘biting my nails’ etc. 🙂 But I will try to look at other peoples blogs and maybe someone can enlighten me and tell me why Twitter is so poplular.

    • benmccallum on said:

      Haha, if I twittered about how often I bite my nails I’d be a twitter-maniac. But to reply to your comment:

      It’s an interesting point you’ve made about using twitter as a research tool. I would never have thought of that as a use. Perhaps of interest to you is this link: http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=2 that discusses “collective intelligence” or as you’ve put it “wisdom of the crowds”. This is an important design pattern of web 2.0.

      I think twitter may be so popular now because people see it as a fad. When Facebook came out everyone was like, “MySpace is so old you should use Facebook”. So everyone jumped on the bandwagon to be “cooler” than everyone else. People like to think they are ahead of everyone and then the rest follow suite. So to keep up with their friend people started using Twitter because if you aren’t using it you are “so uncool or so not with it”. Just a thought. It’s been so hyped up and for personal use I don’t see why. Newspapers (in particular MX) won’t stop talking about it.

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