First, for all of those not in the know; What exactly is twitter !?
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” via SMS, instant messaging, email, the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific. Twitter was founded in March 2006 by San Francisco start-up company Obvious Corp.
Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and also instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them unless the sender has restricted delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through various applications. For SMS, currently three gateway numbers are available: short codes for the USA, Canada and a UK number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email.
Due to Twitter’s success, a large number of sites imitating its concept have sprung up around the world, offering country-specific services (e.g. frazr) or combining the micro-blogging facilities with other ideas, such as filesharing(e.g. Pownce). In May, 2007, one source counted as many as 111 such “Twitter-lookalikes” internationally.
Tweets (Oh yes, there is a whole vernacular shift that comes along with this site!) are restricted to 140 characters. You really can’t say much in 140 characters, but Twitter helps out by automatically changing any enter URL greater than 30 characters into a tinyURL, allowing you to tweet, just a little more at a time.
It’ s own Vernacular?
What good is it for?
Twitter may be useful for groups, friends, work or families and there are even some fairly large mobs on Twitter. If you follow your friends, and they follow each other, you can quickly communicate group-related items.
Of course, there are no shortage of Twitter haters, and “…an RSS feed to every boring aspect of your friend’s lives,” according to Helen A.S. Popkin, MSNBC contributor… but really, what doesn’t have haters now-a-days.
Is Twitter useful for everyone? No, absolutely not. Is Twitter useful? Yes, absolutely, and in all sorts of ways.
Take this blog for instance… I launched less than three weeks ago. In those three weeks, I have had had about 50 visitors find me through the search engines :
Not too bad right?
But, during that same time period, I’ve had more people visit me from Twitter!
There’s a handful more of individual entries of people who came from other twitter pages.
And I tell you, the Twitter traffic was a lot easier to get! And while 60 or so visitors may not sound like a whole lot, remember, this has all been only 3 weeks, and the traffic is increasing along with my Twitter followers, which I seem to be acquiring in the neighbourhood of 2 or 3 a day right now.
I started using Twitter over a year ago (I think) back when it was fresh and new, and there were relatively few people on it still. One of the coolest things for me at the time, was the personal access Twitter provided to many leaders in some of the industries I’m interested in (Tech, SEO, Marketing, etc). At the time (and this is still happening, it was just a lot more intense in the beginning) it was quite easy to find a leader (a scoble, or laport for instance), follow them, and join in their conversations.
At what other time in history, in any other industry, through what other medium, have you ever had such incredible access to the movers and shakers ?
But perhaps the cooler still is the ability to be a fly on the wall and listen in to these people’s conversations, view their own surfing habits and basically learn what the gurus are learning.
Yeah, but what else?
If you happen to be famous, semi-famous, almost famous, or have your own podcast, radio cast, video cast, (or any other cast) then Twitter is just another great channel to announce, market to and tickle your followers. An example of this would be Cali Lewis.
Also, from the Guru side of things, Twitter gives you a really unique position to talk to a crowd of people on extrodinarily familiar terms. This is a huge benefit that you can’t really find anywhere else. (it’s really a revolution in the history of marketing!)
Yeah, but what about the rest of us?
Still not enough eh?
Well how about this… if you follow the golden tenet of internet marketing (Quality Content is King) and use twitter for more than sharing your dinner plans (or worse) then you are going to acquire followers. And while it may not be a mail list, they are still followers. If you continue to share interesting and useful information (in 140 character snippets) then your list will continue to grow, and that will help you when (not if) you promote your own sites through your Twitters.
How do you get started?
Well, for the next little while, join the Thiry Day Challenge and go through the pre-season material… you will find everything you need there I believe. After aug/sept 2007, go to Twitter.com and signup, it’s easy!
I could go on, but I’m getting tired and still need to listen to today’s Thiry Day Challenge material
Oh, I should also say…
If you are using Twitter, or know how to use twitter in a unique way, I would love to hear about it.
Likewise, if you absolutely despise Twitter and the sheer idiocy of sharing the most boring aspects of your lives with friends, family and complete strangers, I’d also love to hear from you too!