Is Twitter Useful?

Twitter found a heap of attention in the past year as users flocked to answer the question, “what are you doing?” People twitted to their hearts content with useless drivel, breaking news, daily life snippets, and sometimes, just plain nonsense. I couldn’t help but follow the buzz to see exactly what it could do and how it was being used.

There seem to be a lot of ideas floating around on how to make Twitter work for you.In a comment left on bokardo.com’s post “The Opaque Value Problem (or, why do people use Twitter?),” Ian Wilker explains why he uses Twitter:

because it gives me up to the second “state of the vibe” awareness of what the people driving the evolution of the social web are thinking and doing … I find this awareness useful in parceling out my attention

In November 2007, leelefever at Common Craft reflected on his 1 year “twitterversary.” His post includes some interesting insights about the concept of twittering. He says:

Twitter has impacted my relationships. 140 characters at a time, I’ve gotten to know my online (and real-world) friends much better. Daily life is the only real life and Twitter shines a spotlight on it.

If you are able to keep up with each Twitterer on your list, you could, in essence, learn their likes and dislikes. They may mention their favorite coffee joint, which train they take to work, what book they are currently reading. Personally, I’m not sure what I’d do with that level of information. I have no plans of stalking my friends. Whether online or offline friends, I know how to reach them when I need to. It still raises a good point, however. Getting a glimpse of their daily routine, even the mundane, will help you learn more about that person.

Individual users aren’t the only ones twittering. Businesses can take advantage of unique marketing opportunities through the service. Maki of dosh dosh compiled his research about Twitter into “17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners.”

Number one on his list is personal branding, where he explains, “it has the primary benefit of developing a casual persona and establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable.”

This could lend toward positioning yourself as an expert in your area of interest, though counting on soaring popularity based on your tweets alone may be a bit optimistic. An extra key to this particular use of Twitter (if not all uses) is to attract an audience that needs your information (easier said than done in our current state of information overload).

Maki also suggests using Twitter for event updates:

Businesses can use Twitter as a means to inform event participants and latest event happenings/changes. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audience.

If you train your audience to look to Twitter for event updates, you could effectively notify participants of changes to the agenda or provide a brief recap (or a link to one) afterward.

One California TV station used Twitter to post updates about the recent wildfires, noting evacuations, the number of homes destroyed, and other pertinent details. In this case, a seemingly trivial piece of technology became a bulletin board of relevant information.

So, the verdict on Twitter? leelefever sums it up best: “Twitter isn’t for everyone. There is a lot of noise and crap. But, if you can find people you know and have a way to integrate the updates into your life, you may be addicted.”

If you have experience with Twitter or other uses, please leave a comment. I’m interested in how it is being used.

TV Commercial Set In Online Game World

As more people spend time in online games, online games enter offline arenas.  Even those of us that don’t play World of Warcraft have at least heard of it.  Advertisers like Toyota are now banking on that idea with commercials like this one for their Tacoma pick-up truck.

If this vehicle is good enough to battle in World of Warcraft, surely it can carry you and your stuff from point A to point B.  Toyota probably banked on bloggers like myself turning this into a viral marketing campaign.  I suppose I don’t mind.  I’ll admit when commercials catch my attention- not a minor feat considering my limited television viewing and my joy in skipping commercials (I count the DVR as one of my favorite modern inventions).

Beyond providing a chuckle, though, this commercial is a great example of the blurring lines between online and offline entertainment.  As more of our time is spent in online activities, advertisers must do what they can to catch our attention when we’re not online- and apparently now that means images of those familiar online worlds brought to us in other mediums.

Happy New Year: Time to re-center ourselves

The new year is a time for new beginnings. As for me, every day is a new day, so this time of year doesn’t hold any extra cachet. Renewal can happen at any moment we choose. I also believe that renewal isn’t necessarily the reinventing of oneself, but the centering of oneself. It is starting fresh from your core being, with the added benefit of more life experiences behind you.

Rather than making resolutions you will likely drop by month’s end, take this time to evaluate where you are now and how aligned you are with your personal goals.   Maybe it’s time to start working on that business you keep thinking about, or planning your dream vacation.

Also, celebrate your accomplishments from last year. I thumbed through an old journal the other day and came across a list of changes I had at one time wanted to make in my attitude and actions. Fear swept through me as I realized I had let such a list go. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had achieved more than half the items on my list despite not reviewing the list since writing it. I guess all of those folks out there who preach, “put it in writing,” are right after all. What have you accomplished without realizing it?

I am facing the new year as I always do- one day at a time. Here’s to 366 (it’s Leap Year, remember) grand new days in 2008.