In the past couple years, I’ve used Twitter quite a bit. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and made many observations of how others use the service to communicate online. To be specific, I’ve seen a lot of great business applications, personal uses and even philanthropic benefits. As much as Twitter brings good, it can also bring challenge to our consumer-driven society.
For one, writing in 140 characters at a time teaches us the value of what we say and how we can pack a lot of thoughts in a little bit of space. This is great because it helps us value every word, every character just a little bit more to help us to become better publishers.
Second, it raises the number of conversations with who we have online. Any person can participate in conversations with friends, family, co-workers, customers and even with corporate brands.
Third, more conversations that we have, the less we can focus on each conversation. This is both good and bad because, we now have a more diverse conversation, but not necessarily as great conversations.
Fourth, the rules have changed and new ones are added and old ones don’t matter anymore. Ask anyone who uses Twitter, they have a little list of unwritten rules on how to use Twitter. While some might say the rules stifle innovation, the rules are usually derived from people’s reactions to content. Thus, Twitter is a great mechanism to improve one’s marketing to become interactive and conversational. I like to let others know that the rules always change and there is no secret formula to being “successful” on Twitter.
Fifth, Twitter makes it affordable and relatively easy to interact with prospects, partners and customers. It’s a huge time-suck if you let it, but it can be very valuable if you want it to be. But it also makes it easy to neglect other factors in customer retention, such as product quality.
Sixth, Twitter teaches us to become researchers of information, trends and brands. The reputation of a brand is contingent on what the “last person” said. Before I venture into using a new service, I browse Twitter Search to see what others say about it. Objectivity comes into questions because any one person can effectively control what appears in a brand search.
Seventh, many folks believe that Twitter is so new, so innovative or so special without looking at the underlying success. Twitter’s focus on empowering their community is really what made it a hit. Even if Twitter doesn’t survive post-IPO or acquisition, I can bet that the behaviors that Twitter has created, will still continue, no matter what domain it resides. Early Twitter adopters have been migrating to FriendFeed lately, and it’s expected that FF will become the next Twitter hit.
Eighth, it’s not just Twitter. People now have become much more effective at looking at any number of conversations on the Web. Google promotes this by raising the visibility of those conversations (blogs, in this context).
Ninth, Twitter had allowed anyone to manage their personal and professional brands. A brand is built from reputation and character and is validated when you are consistent. It also has bridged the gap in gender and corporate footprint in consumer interactions.
Tenth, Twitter has made it fun, useful and interesting. With a number of memes that people participate in, Twitter can really keep people glued. A number of newsworthy benefits, including citizen journalism. And with great content, comes great syndication — quality blogs and content get cascaded throughout the Twitter network, a measure (and feedback) as to how effectiveness of the content.
That’s really it for my ten Twitter observations. While Twitter has become a real hit in our online activities, it may become a burden just like a utility. Twitter might be our next mailbox, where we have to routinely discard 10 pieces of junk for 1 piece of mail.
What do you think, have you had any Twitter observations?