Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tweeters Anonymous

I now tweet. No, I don’t need to see a doctor and yes I meant to say that. Whilst I’ve been banging on about the potential of social media for what seems like eons, it is only very recently that I’ve embraced the joy of tweeting. I’d known of Twitter for a while but I never really got it. Then I decided I should get it because if I’m going to get you excited by the social melting pot online, I’ve got to embrace everything and find out how it really works.

So, I put myself on Twitter, absorbed the language [tweet, twittersphere etc] and went to work. Initially I found a few friends lurking around who it turns out don’t actually have much to say, which is a surprise as I’ve found they never really shut up. Then I realised that I see them at least once a month, so why Tweet with them? So that got me thinking, why would anyone use Twitter and how can you get excited by it?

That’s when I discovered Twittervision. If you don’t know what this is, get online now and the strange addiction will grow! Twittervision is as basic as it gets as an opiate for the masses but I love it; it gives you a world map and overlays the latest tweets from around the world. I have no idea what Muki in Japan was saying but I want to know. Perhaps this is bringing out my more voyeuristic impulses but it’s strangely compelling. I’m sure there will be concerns about internet security and the potential for cyber stalking but there are no personal details on this site, simply a name (that you choose)and a link to a map of your geographic location (we’re talking general here, not a zoom into your bedroom). You can upload a personal photo or use something generic, or even arty if you feel that way inclined. Spend long enough on Twitter and you’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful profile pics. There is also the obligatory link to Facebook with a Twittervision application to enable you to tweet from your Facebook account.

I like the fact that Twitter is unashamedly basic. It is not Facebook, or MySpace, or Bebo. It isn’t about turning yourself into a vampire, throwing sheep or inviting people to virtual reality happy hours. I’m not knocking these networking sites, they have a place and they are successful and I’ve been known to chirp away (see what I did there) on Facebook walls of a winter’s eve. However, I crave simplicity in life. I have an attention deficit and the brouhaha of Facebook gives me cold shivers. Twitter is allowing me to satiate my desire for playing with the rest of the world without having to think too hard about it.

What really excites me though is the commercial potential. I don’t mean that cynically because I love the fact that the ethos of social media is about community, sharing and engagement on your terms. However, there is a real opportunity for the more enlightened brand darlings to be smart and build a thriving community. People buy, people respond to marketing, people like to talk about their experiences, people like to belong. So why can’t you leverage these drivers via social media to create dialogue and build lasting relationships?


If you want some proof, take a look at the meteoric rise of the Stephen Fry tweet which has seen his website become the #1 visited site. Blogs have been spawned over the Fry phenomenon, including Mark Higginson, a well know social purveyor. I’m also currently following Starbucks, not because I have an affinity to or like of the company, but because I’m fascinated by what they are tweeting and seeing how a global brand can engage people via Twitter. They recently posted a cute tweet about their charity link up with the Seattle Space Needle for World AIDS Day. Twitter is not a direct sales channel, it is a communication opportunity to share interesting information with the wider world and let people get to know you better. And, I’m not embarrassed to admit, it is quite enjoyable.

To put my money where my mouth is, I am planning an e-inbusiness twitter feed and will be launching this to the world at large. The great thing is that only interested people will follow, so there will be a qualified audience to talk to. Finally, my voice will be heard……

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