I think the real issue with Twitter is this: people need at least two or more accounts targeted to different aspects of their life. For instance, if you are a professional, a person representing a business, or an “expert” in your field, then you need one Twitter account for your business and for passing on interesting and relevant information. Then that same person needs to have a personal Twitter account where their “followers” can stalk them as they publish such inane comments as “my toast is burnt, “ “my plane is delayed,” “I have jetlag,” and my personal favorite, “my cat just sneezed.”
Until this concept of having separate accounts for personal versus professional tweets catches on (and I have seen several people who do have two or more accounts) then I think Twitter will continue to turn off many people.
I have been following several people who supposedly are experts in web design or they represent a web design company. Yes, there are the occasional great tweets regarding a blog or article that is of interest to me. But I don’t know these people personally and I really don’t care that they are stuck in an airport in Singapore or that their hotel bed is lumpy. I have had to un-follow them because there are too many inane comments to wade through to get to the good information.
What impact does Twitter have? According to the first YouTube tutorial on this blog, Twitter’s impact is to allow people to connect to their friends in a unique way – small bit-sized pieces of life that happens between blog entries or phone calls. I disagree. I think the format invites people to publish “my bread is moldy” or “I think I lost a contact” to an audience (very narcissistic in my opinion). Because an entry can only be 140 characters long, Twitter only allows for one or two sentence updates that are usually absurd and of little quality. It feels almost like you are stalking who you are “following” and they are allowing you do so by publishing their every movement.
Other Uses for Twitter:
I have found several other uses for Twitter in my research:
By finding innovative ways to get people to pass information via Twitter or Facebook, companies can use each one of us as affiliate marketers to their products and services. How many times have you recommended a restaurant to someone and wish you could get something back in return for that referral from the restaurant – like free food? By giving me a kick back of some kind for microblogging about a favorite restaurant, I might be more inclined to answer someone’s query about where is a good place to eat east of 75 in Richardson.
Twitter as Search Tool
I have found out how to mine Twitter for information to a certain degree. One is by using search.twitter.com. The other key is in hashtags. By effectively searching on key hashtags, you can find information on general topics like #marketing, #media, etc. I can see how this would be very useful tool for keeping all of the tweets at a particular conference together. Also, you can search on particular hashtags.
Twitter (and Facebook) are gaining great ground on being the source of information first. People are going to their Twitter accounts first to find out what is going on with a news story that is happening now. Twitter can be used to get information out quickly to a group of people, like firefighters or emergency personnel. I had a friend who went to the Tea Party March on Washington, D.C. in September. The Parks Service severely underestimated the crowd, so even though the original plan was to have everyone gather in one place, listen to speakers, and then go to the mall, the Parks Service needed everyone to go to the mall to listen to speakers. The organizers of the march were able to inform a good percentage of the attendees of the change of plans by Twitter. Twitter can be a very effective tool for crowd maneuvering and control.
There is a fine line between marketing on Twitter and it becoming spam. Using Twitter to market your product or service is going to be a delicate process. In the above article, a marketing gimmick with Moonshot turned attention to when is it considered advertising and when is it considered spam when it comes to Twitter. I know that I am very turned off when my friends on Facebook publish something about their company constantly. For example, I know a couple who are in some kind of travel network marketing company. If they had posted something once a month, I would have been fine with it, but they were publishing travel deals multiple times every day. When it becomes very obvious and in your face – it is spam.
From all the articles I have read, I do think that Twitter has great potential, but as I said at the beginning of this blog, people really need to get the concept of having two or more accounts and they really need to stop mixing personal comments with professional ones. I believe this alone is why so many people are turned off of Twitter when they first encounter it, they cannot see beyond the inane chatter.