Rod Drury has a brief, coherent summary of the history of Twitter and why it actually matters to companies:
Twitter started off as a pretty banal thing a few years ago. In 140 characters you answer the question: “What are you doing” …
But from those banal beginnings has emerged something more weighty, making companies pay attention:
Twitter went nuts and now has over 50 million users. Companies started to use Twitter over Google Adwords because Twitter was providing great opportunities to talk to potential customers.
For ‘companies’ I would actually substitute the word ‘organisations’ as community groups and others should also be considering how Twitter can fit into their work.
What should we do on Twitter
There seems to be endless debate about what we should or should not write on Twitter.
Beyond safety considerations (eg not enabling stalkers, or advertising that you’re leaving your priceless art collection at such-and-such an address unattended for the weekend) I find all such admonishments quite inappropriate.
Twitter is a means of communication. It has many functions, as do email, the phone and chat at the bus stop. I’ve written about this before:
Twitter is not a platform for great rhetoric. It’s not the place for life-altering pronouncements. It’s not some kind of holy book, being written 140 characters at a time. Twitter’s a place where groups of friends and acquaintances chat.
Twitter is a very useful public place for companies and other organisations to be active in though. In his article, Rod suggests several reasons why, and offers a couple of anecdotes to prove it.
Getting to know you
I follow several organisations and companies on Twitter. I also follow individuals, news streams, events (such as some NASA activities) and various other entities.
I have differing expectations of each. I don’t expect earthquake announcements to engage me in conversation, but am very happy when my Twitterpals do.
I’m pleasantly surprised when a business notices that I’ve mentioned them and perhaps gives me feedback or help, or even just checks whether I need more input from them.
Sugar in the morning
I like it that people I don’t know pass my tweets on to others, or reply to me when something I’ve said catches their attention. I like that I have buddies with whom I exchange occasional private messages about a topic of the moment.
For the last 15 years or so email has been a major part of my life. Now I check Twitter before I ever check my email!
In fact, I check it morning, noon and night.