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’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.


1 Comment

  1. Thomas said,

    Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 7:57 am

    I find Twitter very interesting. There are uses for businesses and marketing but the most interesting uses are for keeping people updated. I didn’t know the bit about informing people about the fires, but this seems to be where Twitter excels – keeping people updated in real-time!
    I don’t see it as “stalking my friends” not that my offline friends are on Twitter, but if they were, it alows you to have a sense of what they are doing and feeling without directly contacting them. Kind of like a social 6th sense as Clive Thompson put it in Wired.

    Anyway, very interesting post, thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: