Last year Rex Hammock mentioned in passing in an email that someday he’d “explain why so many people are using Twitter.com.”
At the time I took a quick look at Twitter and just shook my head. I have to admit — I did not see the appeal.
Six months later and things have changed. I’m now using Twitter. And the more I use it, the more value I find in it. It’s a bit addicting and I can see why Rex found it so appealing.
I’ve noticed a lot more businesspeople using Twitter in 2008. I wrote about this trend in my latest Inc Technology column:
Twitter is a kind of public instant messenger stream. You go online or on your mobile device and send text messages (“tweets”) of up to 140 characters — or about one sentence long. Your tweets can be read by others, and you can sign up to follow the messages others write so that you can read theirs.
Often the messages are incredibly mundane. “Just landed at San Francisco airport.” “Body can’t seem to adjust to the time change.” “Reading e-mails –147 in my inbox.”
Some messages are so trivial that at first you’ll be shaking your head. How could extremely intelligent people — the early adopters of technology — waste their time on such banalities, you wonder?
But stick around long enough on Twitter and you, too, will get sucked in.
Mixed in among the short updates from friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or people you’d like to get to know, you start to notice patterns. You start picking up small clues about their personalities, about their priorities, and about events in their lives. It’s a mosaic, a backdrop that helps you understand how they tick. You become more engaged in them and in their work precisely because you learn some details of their personal existence. You start to care more about them on a personal level. Thus, you care more about their work and become a more engaged member of their community.
Read: “Why Business Bloggers are Twittering”.
Oh, and if you are using Twitter, I am smallbiztrends.
What’s your Twitter address? Leave it in the comments below.
More in: Twitter
I’m still trying to work Twitter out. So much to read, so much other stuff I really should be doing 🙂
Doug E. Shirts
I read this on Google Reader and added you today. You are right on!
Thanks for the perspective. I am trying to still grasp twitter between web, Jott.com and texting. Just following 4 people the other day i got 50 plus texts while teaching a workshop on technology. It made for a great back up since I could not get online at the time. Best Regards. Digitalplus on Twitter.
I briefly looked at Twitter last year and thought it to be a huge time-sink. Now I’m back, been using it for about three weeks and starting to see value… Still not sure if it’s for me, though…
Per your pattern commentary, yes, I’m starting to see patterns (personalities forming before my eyes) of folks I’m following… If I were hiring for my company I’d sure like to see my candidate’s Twitter history.
Still looking at Twitter like a deer in headlights.
I signed up a few days ago, and I’m not finding it too much of a time sink yet. I’ve held off getting updates sent to my phone, though, as I can see that getting really annoying.
I think one of the big benefits is that Twitter tightens networks. I’m much more aware of the people I’m following on a day-to-day basis than I would be otherwise. I can keep track of people (and they can track me) through Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest, but even using those services it’s easy to slip off each others’ radar.
All I can say is wow. I signed up for twitter a long time ago. I’m “ivanastaylor” and every time I think about putting something in there- I think “who would really want to know?” But your point on picking up patterns and building relationships and actually understanding how and even who people are is really insightful. I never even thought far enough to see that I could be using twitter as an adjunct to the blog. Even more enlightening is this idea of a type of subtle advertising and presense that you can have with your audience. You’ve inspired me to look at twitter a whole new way.
I find that Twitter is so undefined that it means many things to many people. To offset the anti-productive nature of it, I also use it to send reminders to Sandy (iwantsandy.com & twitter.com/s)
I have to admit that I have yet to grasp the Twitter concept. Thank you for offering your perspective on its benefits. Your article plus everyones views will cause me to take more notice. We’ll see what happens…..
I’ve been looking at Twitter for a year and yet still have not made the jump. I wrote about it after hearing Matt Dickman speak at the State of the Web 2008 address not long ago. http://websitespeopleread.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/03/twitter—up-to.html. But what I found fascinating and a little “fly on the wall” is http://twittervision.com a Google map that pops up tweets from all over the world. Talk about your time sink. But it is fascinating watching the tweets appear around the globe – what people are thinking, saying and doing in a variety of languages. It truly brings the BIG world down to a backyard conversation. Love it. Deborah
I think twitter is great…and addicting. I think it can help spread your brand and help spread news about what you are doing, creating, involved in. It is also a great addition to your social and professional network…people are always looking to meet up at conferences and events with their followers making networking a lot easier.
I am so glad you are on Twitter. I think the truth of it is that you have to know how to leverage ANY social media you participate in-including Twitter.
It is so easy to get “lost” in the scheme of things.
Know your reasons for participating and it makes everything much easier.
Twitter Name: http://www.Twitter.com/ShamaHyder
I’m new here however I have been a serial entrepreneur for over 34 years. I have 34 in Public REALations, 25 in Videography, 11 in TV production, 8 in Internet Marketing. however my PASSION is my non-profit called 7th Haven as you will note for the web site where we have committed to building 7,000,000 cost effective and energy efficient dome homes around the world for the homeless over the next 7 years.
My Twitter is hugh009.
I’m not sure about this at all. Maybe because my fear is that my own entries will display how trivial my activities are at the moment. But leap and try. Technology is about letting go of some fear.
Thank you for the information, let me start work on it.
Twitter has replaced my feed reader as the place I go first to get all of the hottest links and updated news in my field, social media. Following the right people is key to making it interesting, as well as being creative and useful (and sometimes mundane or perilously open) in one’s own tweets. Here’s a guide to using Twitter for Business and here is a list of business Twitterers to follow and SEO Twitterers to follow.
We also use Twitter to push Work.com business how-to’s of the day and you’re welcome to follow: http://www.twitter.com/workdotcom
You’ve pushed me over the edge — i’ll try it now. Have been to the site multiple times, have seen the value, but simply have not done it.
And i sent you an email in reply to your message, but it may have gone to spam.
Please check when you have time.
am finding myself visiting and posting to twitt many times per day it can be rather addicting.
follow me or just check out me stream at: Mistone
twitter certainly is growing fast but gives you tools and options to reduce the noice to a level your comfortable with
OK this twitter thing is just too much fun. Who is the most famous person you can get to follow you?
My twitter is : http://twitter.com/strategystew
I work for a company called Mzinga that builds online communities for innovative businesses. I have been using Twitter for about nine months now.
At Mzinga, we’ve found Twitter to be an extremely useful tool in building and growing networks, thought leadership, sharing blog posts, and most recently facilitating our hiring process. In a recent blog post, we highlighted our recruiting needs and, keeping to our belief in the value of community, suggested that interested candidates reach us through online communities, such as Twitter and Facebook. So far, we have had some fantastic responses.
If you’re interested, my post is here: subject:http://tinyurl.com/39dy8d
US News & World Report also picked it up: http://tinyurl.com/3x8gw4
I was with you on this one at first. I thought Twitter looked like a waste of time. Now I see I was wasting valuable Twitter time until I finally jumped in! 🙂
Follow me @eMom – http://twitter.com/emom
I love my Twitter. I can’t believe how much it’s grown since I started using it in December of 2006. 🙂
This is me: http://twitter.com/tamar
Have you tried hellotxt? You can get your twitter, facebook and linkedin updated all in one shot! What a time saver!
You can follow me here – http://twitter.com/andertoons
I think that Twitter does have some great applications for small business and recently blogged about it as well. Like all social media it is tough to justify too much time with one tool but I agree Twitter is starting to catch on.
I can see the uses for it. I don’t use it personally but to a certain type of person/family it’s a very visitable website. It isn’t for everyone though. I think the majority of the family would need to be online for there to be enough twits, twittering ;o)
I’ve been using Twitter for quite a while but never really pondered what the appeal was. Your point about seeing patterns develop and personalities emerge is spot on. I’ve had no retort for the skeptics before (besides “you just gotta try it”) but now I do.
We have a company Twitter, but haven’t exactly found the voice we want to use there. Our individual employee accounts are all quite compelling if you ask me (of course, I’m biased). So, this got me thinking about how a small business’ brand is really the sum of the individual personal brands. People are more apt to follow personal accounts than business accounts, it seems.
Anita, how is Twitter different from StumbleUpon, Digg, Technorati? I currently do all three. I will investigate Twitter as well but didn’t know it has any advantages over the other bookmarking sites. Should I limit with bookmark sites I use or is it a good idea to do as many as I can tolerate?
Regarding your question: “Anita, how is Twitter different from StumbleUpon, Digg, Technorati?”
Twitter is unique for allowing you to make personal connections far better than the others. Twitter is a fabulous networking tool. It’s more personal. It deepens relationships on the Web.
Twitter is like instant messenger except that you are sending out messages one-to-many instead of one-to-one like standard instant messenger. But because you are sending short messages — and receiving and reading other messages from others — you are connecting with people. No matter how far away those people happen to be.
With Stumbleupon, Digg and Technorati, it’s more about finding information and expressing your views (voting) on that information. It’s not as easy to network with people using those social networking tools.
Anybody else out there care to jump in to help explain the differences?
PS, great question by the way!
Hi Adam, regarding your point:
“We have a company Twitter, but haven’t exactly found the voice we want to use there. Our individual employee accounts are all quite compelling if you ask me (of course, I’m biased). So, this got me thinking about how a small business’ brand is really the sum of the individual personal brands. People are more apt to follow personal accounts than business accounts, it seems.”
I think there’s something to what you say. Twitter, of course, in uniquely about making personal connections — it’s truly chatting. It’s hard for a company to chat.
But I also think you can use a company name for branding purposes — but an employee can speak from a personal perspective and throw in personal information and talk in a “personal” voice using the company name for the Twitter account.
Anyone else have thoughts on how to find the “company” voice on Twitter?
Thanks Anita for the distinction on Twitter versus other social bookmarking sites. I get it now. I will give it a shot!
Please feel free to read my post (click on my name) on how will use Twitter in the future. I haven’t used it for a long time, I signed up last summer and then I have tried to jump start it a couple of times.
You could follow me at:
We have actually evolved our company Twittering to involve… less “shenanigans” (though we did tweet that we got the VP of Tech with an April Fool’s joke) and more about any updates of scheduled downtime (for when we update BatchBook, our web app), what new features we just pushed, and certain press bits we’re proud of. Seems to be working pretty well for that purpose, though our personal Twitter accounts are certainly more “chatty”.
I am a proud user of Twitter, and do see a far-reaching potential for its business use. However, I am sure that the social benefits of Twitter will dry up fast once that potential manifests. Users just don’t like too much promotion when they come to have real conversations, or to keep a streaming record of their life. When conversations turn to promotion, many users — especially those who are not early adapters — I believe, will run for cover to the new site with far-reaching but not manifest potential for business use.
Anyone else dislike it when people promote stuff during real conversations?
I am a fan of twitter and find it to be a great tool for networking. I have met some great people there that I never would have met otherwise and it is a quick way to keep in touch with many.
Many Twitter Users are Quick Quitters and only stay on the service about a month. This is from a Nielsen study.
Shoutout to marketing expert, Annie Eissler, at Mixtur. http://www.mixtur.com/