Scenarios where Twitter adds great value
As a relatively new “Tweeter” (someone who writes Twitter messages, or so-called “tweets”) I am by no means a Twitter expert, but after just a few months I have come to realize some unique benefits of Twitter that might not be clear to everyone, so I thought I would write this blog post to give you my perspective of Twitter and share some scenarios where I see Twitter adding real value.
A short overview of Twitter
Before I go on I’ll give you a short overview of Twitter so that we’re all on the same page. Twitter was launched in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Twitter is an online service (which can be accessed through a range of mobile devices) where you can send and read short messages – only 140 characters long. If you are used to sending SMS messages via your mobile phone, you are familiar with the short message concept. The difference with Twitter is that you don’t send the message to a specific person, instead you post your message on Twitter and the message can then be read by anyone who has signed up as a “Follower” or anyone who does a search and finds your message.
Business or Personal?
When I first heard about Twitter I thought: “who cares about someone’s daily updates – what they had for breakfast, that they are on the bus, and so on?” Even though Twitter might have started out as a social medium where you would share your daily updates with friends and family, today Twitter is so much more. Large companies like Microsoft, Marriot, Ford and Best Buy are all using Twitter as a powerful communication tool and small companies are seeing the benefits of connecting with their customers through Twitter.
Scenarios where Twitter adds great value
There are lots of great resources online on how to use Twitter, but I thought I would share with you what I think are some real benefits that Twitter provides that might not be so clearly spelled out:
- Real-time feedback from the audience at events: Have you ever been to an event and wished that you could read other peoples’ minds? Well, Twitter can almost do that for you. At many events today the organizers will give you a twitter hashtag (#) for the event. Anyone who wants to post tweets about the event will use this hashtag in their messages. So if you’re in the audience and you want to know what other people are thinking, just do a search for the event hashtag and read what people are posting. If you are an event organizer today you need to “listen in” to what people are saying. This is direct feedback that your audience is giving you. It could be anything from: “Man, it is cold in here”, “Does anyone understand what this guy is talking about”, or “WOW, that demo was amazing!”
- Collective note-taking at events: Another great thing about Twitter at events is that if you are like me and you like to take notes, you have the benefit of collective note taking with Twitter. People usually tweet facts that are being said during the event so that if you missed something, just do a search on the event hashtag and you can pick up what you missed. This is of course also brilliant if you are unable to attend the session yourself.
- Getting help on staying up to date on your interest: If you follow people who have similar interests that you do, Twitter is a great way to get help to stay up to date on the latest of interest in that area. Even though you read most of the websites, blogs and forums you might miss out on things. If you “follow” people on Twitter that have the same interests as you do, you can rest assured that they will share important updates on Twitter – this way you get help to keep up to date.
- Keeping track of competitors: Just like Twitter helps you stay up to date on topics you are interested in, it is also a very useful way to keep track of what your competitors are doing – events, new product releases and so on. Even if you yourself are not using Twitter as a business you should definitely be tuning in to what your competitors are tweeting about and learn from them on how they are engaging with their customers.
- Sharing updates with your community: Twitter is a great service to share updates with your community. You can see it as mini “press releases” with information, such as current events, new articles or new products you’ve released. Again, as with other social media platforms, people get turned off by too much self-promotion, but if you keep it informative and relevant Twitter is a great addition to your newsletters and other communication media.
- Getting feedback from people on specific topics: If you have enough reach you can use Twitter as a good polling mechanism to collect feedback. Say for instance that you want feedback on features for your next product or that you want to know what your audience thinks of your new web page. Asking questions or asking for feedback is very powerful since the Twitter community tends to engage willingly in sharing what they think.
Some other useful tips
As with all tools, there are pros and cons. Sometimes I feel that there is a lot of “noise” or clutter on Twitter and it’s hard to find the really relevant information. You need to learn how to filter and to use Twitter effectively. Personally, I use a tool called TweetDeck to easier navigate through the tweet jungle. TweetDeck is an application you install on your computer which allows you to filter and search tweets and Tweeters.
If you want to have a more comprehensive overview of how to use Twitter I can recommend The Complete Guide to Twitter” by Mark O’Neil.
I hope that these few insights on the added value of Twitter have gotten you at least interested to look into it and if you have feedback on things I have missed please send me a comment below or tweet me on @ulrikahedlund.
(If you have difficulties reading this article, you can access the full article in pdf here)