Have you heard about ‘Twitter’? Maybe you should think about Twittering if you aren’t already.
What is Twitter?
Twitter (found at Twitter.com) is a free social networking and microblogging service. Using Twitter you can send brief messages (up to 140 characters) via SMS, email, Instant Messenger, third party applications (such as TwitAir, TwitBin, or Twitterific) or using the Twitter web site to your Twitter account for others to see.
There are different levels of ‘others’ in the service. Followers are people who are interested in what you have to say and sign up to ‘follow’ you by reading what you post on your profile. There is the public time line too in which the Internet using public as a whole can see your updates.
You can switch between these levels of privacy and keep your updates to your approved circle of ‘followers’ or let the whole world know what you’re doing. Completely your choice. I do have some suggestions though – read on.
Why should I Twitter?
There are many reasons to use the Twitter service. I’ll break them down:
Your Own Ego
Twitter gives you a public forum to briefly vocalize what you’re doing, your plans for the day, questions, answers, opinions and more.
Twitter can help you keep in touch with your peers. As long as they post you can see what they’re up to where they’re going, what they’re working on, when meetings and events are and more.
One use that has started to emerge on an enterprise level is to keep track of team members and keep an ongoing status notification of projects and team member status. If a team member posts an update to their account to the effect of "gone to find parts" then you know they’re not around the office. At the same time a team member can ask "is the chart on page three correct?" and receive a communal response.
Groups of friends, organizations and hobbyists are finding Twitter helpful to just exchange information and keep in touch. i.e a "Party tonight at my place – BYOB" message can reach many people at the click of a button. Your friends could even RSVP using Twitter. You could send a message out "what kind of rubber cement is best for my model plane" to your group of enthusiasts to (hopefully) receive an appropriate response.
I know of a couple of businesses who have Twitter accounts set up solely for their place of business so that they can post notifications to their clientele or fans.
"Pancakes on Saturday", "We’ll be playing live downtown tomorrow", "Special on ivory paper next Monday"
There is much more that Twitter can and is being used for. With promising future developments the service will become increasingly invaluable.
The flexibility of Twitter means that you can post messages to your account and receive the status of others in many different ways. The most populate of which are by simply using the Twitter.com web site or signing up to have messages sent to and from your phone via SMS.
Of course, you need access to a computer (or web enabled mobile device) to update your status using the web site, however having messages sent to and from your phone can quickly, quite frankly, drive you nuts. Depending the size of your circle of friends and who you choose to receive notifications from you can easily receive hundreds of text messages a day.
It is best to be selective as to the members of your group that you receive notifications from and how many people are actually in your group and why they are there.
Twitter is a truly flexible and somewhat addictive platform. Once you start building your circle of followers you will find yourself looking through your friends’ followers to see what cool happenings are going on there and add more people from their list to your own and keep extending your network onward and outward.
The Twitter dynamic is interesting too. Any one of your followers has a following of their own and each of their followers have their own group of followers. Naturally some people have some of the same followers. This is a great way to grow networks of friends.
While attending a conference in the city a guest speaker found himself stranded at the hotel. He quickly Twittered (often referred to as a ‘tweet’) for someone from the conference to call him to arrange transportation. Because he had so many followers at the conference this was taken care of very quickly ad the attendees knew he might be running a little late.
You are what you tweet. Once you send a message out there your followers see it very quickly. If you don’t have your privacy control set up the whole Internet will see it for a long time to come.
I strongly advise keeping your tweets between you and your followers. If you were to decide to use Twitter for business purposes, set up a Twitter account for your business and make it public.
How will you use Twitter? can you think of any new and ingenious ways to improve your social networking and business by sending and receiving brief messages?