OK, it is well past Halloween, but I’ve only just really started to get to grips with Twitter. Writing about Twitter is fairly binary, either it is going to be old news to you or you will be going ‘what is Twitter?’. If you’ve heard of it, you will either be loving it or hating it – as I said, it seems to be a very binary thing. If you already know what I am talking about, you can just skip to the last paragraph to find out how to follow me and why I am using Twitter.
Twitter lives somewhere between the closed world of Instant Messaging and the open world of blogs. It is a very curious beast. If you want the ten second description, think of it like this: A version of instant messaging where the messages you type go to all of your buddies, and where your buddies can sign in and see all the messages from all of the people they are ‘following’. However using it like an instant messaging client will drive people barking mad. Don’t do that. Twitter is not an IM client, and you miss its power by using it that way.
Messages, or ‘Tweets’ as they are called, are public by default, for example Google will find you. Think about that for a second. Tweets are plain text only, but you can post URLs. Because of the 140 character limit for tweets you might need to make use of a URL shortening service like tinyurl.com to squish them down. For (much) more detail see Caroline’s big juicy twitter guide. There is also some interesting discussion on Twitter use at Marketers Studio, where people have batted some examples around. For fun, watch the world twittering on twittervision: zoom right out and watch for a minute or two. It is quite a strange sensation to watch people answering the Twitter question: “What are you doing?” around the globe. News services are now posting alerts to twitter also, like the BBC, CNET and CNN World.
Some marketing people are getting quite excited about Twitter. I’m a marketing person, but that isn’t why I am excited. I’m curious from a productivity and communication perspective. It could be a gold mine, or at least a silver mine. I’ve been talking with Twitter users for quite a while and last week had the chance to see it in action in a large group context at Web2.0Expo and Interop. I was very impressed – it connects people in a unique way and can save time with all sorts of tricky problems. Like most tools, it can increase productivity or it can ruin it. I remember the early days of email – good. I know today’s email – bad. Twitter can only be understood by using it, so why don’t you follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/redcatco? If you are not already a Twitter user you can sign up – it is very quick and straight forward. I’ll write up what I learn the week before Christmas, that’s about four weeks away.