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Monday, September 24, 2007

8 Unique Reasons People Like Twitter (And Why Microblogging Matters)

On the surface, capturing what you are doing on daily, hourly or even minutely (double meaning intended) basis seems like a useless activity.  Who has the time to send these incessant "tweets" all day long?  As it turns out, lots of smart folks with respectable jobs, but that's besides the point.  Driven by Mark Simon's dismissal of Twitter and my hectic travel schedule of 5 cities in 5 days last week, I decided to give Twitter a real test run and become an active user of my dormant account I created several months ago but never really used.  This post is a compilation of the lessons I learned about Twitter and an inside look at the appeal of microblogging and why smart marketers should pay attention to this trend and some ideas for the possibilities it offers. 

  1. Broadcast Yourself For Real. This may be YouTube's tagline, but it really applies more to Twitter.  As you start sending these messages to update what you are doing right now and gain "followers" - you start to feel like you are broadcasting yourself.  When you're Twittering, you're on the grid and sharing your thoughts and actions real time.
  2. Replace Invasive Instant Messaging. I don't use instant messaging at work, because it is interruptive.  Even when you set your status, you'll often get instant messages that are hard to ignore.  Twitter has the same qualities of instant messaging, without the interruptive qualities.  As a result, it lets you send quick short instant messages to people that they can view and answer when they have a moment.  I found myself quickly using direct tweets the way I might use instant messaging to ask a quick question to one of my contacts.
  3. Build An Entourage Quickly.  With the easy import feature from Gmail and the relatively low barrier for following someone, I was up to more than 70 contacts in my Twitter account within 5 minutes of starting to use the site.  Not bad for a quick payoff, considering how long it would take to build a friends list of that many people for a new user of any other social network like Facebook or Linkedin.  Even better, the vast majority of people who you follow will start following you right away.
  4. Get Satisfaction by Venting. Throughout the week last week I found myself occasionally annoyed at a stupid ad or a flight delay.  I would never "waste" a blog post on these topics most of the time, but found myself twittering them with great satisfaction.  Somehow, just sharing the negative experience of having to walk all the way to the last gate in the B terminal at O'hare made me feel better about it.
  5. Always Find Out What's New.  With Twitter, I knew right away when Matt posted a photo of the guys from our panel at Promo Live, and when Gordon Moore finished his chat at IDF.  The running commentary of the latest news from my contacts was actually really useful and somewhat addictive.  Longer term, at the very least I'll be sending a Twitter update every time I publish a new blog post.
  6. Fills A Gap Left By Blogging. Now that I have gained a few thousand consistent readers, I find myself considering more carefully what I write about.  The people who subscribe to this blog invest their time and expect to find something of use ... and there are often times when I abandon a topic because I don't have a strong point of view about it.  My blog has never been about pointing out things out there without some commentary.  Yet sometimes there is something that is interesting which I would just like to share a link on, but not necessarily write about.  Twitter is the perfect way to share those links and a quick thought without spending a whole blog post on it.
  7. Highly Useful for Live Blogging. There are several events in the past few months that I have had the chance to attend and live blog.  For most, my live blogging consisted of taking notes during sessions, coming up with a point of view and posting a blog post on it.  This is what I did at the CCR event, and the Ogilvy Verge event.  At Intel's IDF and Promo Live, I tried using Twitter for live blogging instead and found it to be really useful because you can get your thoughts out much more quickly, you can really do it real time, and it forces you to focus on capturing the really key points.  I'll be Twittering many of my other upcoming events now as well.
  8. Facilitate Meetups.  When I was heading to a media event after the first day of IDF, I was looking for bloggers to invite to the event.  Luckily Karl from ExperienceCurve spotted me on Twitter and suggested we meet up.  This is one of the earliest benefits that I realized some time ago about Twitter, but it was really nice to see it in action.  Imagine this blown out beyond cities to destinations and you can really visualize the potential power of Twitter.

So what does this all add up to?  For me, Twitter is a compelling platform that can easily become addictive once you start to use it ... a quality that many great sites share.  The marketing opportunity here is super simple:

  1. Start following people that care about what you do
  2. Respond to their messages where appropriate to start dialogue
  3. Send consistent and substantial updates of your own
  4. Use Twitter as a platform to inform your followers of news they might care about

Today the end of my week long experiment, I'll be continuing to use Twitter and I'd suggest you give it a go as well.  Now I need to go and send an update to my group letting them know this post is live ...


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» 8 Reasons People Like Twitter from IF!
Rohit Bhargava reacts to criticism of micro-blogging technologies by developing a well thought out list of reasons why Twitter and its ilk are important: Broadcast Yourself For Real.... Rohit says: For me, Twitter is a compelling platform that can... [Read More]

» Has Twitter "Tipped"? I'm not so sure... from The Fresh Marketer
Rohit has a great post about how Twitter can be very useful. It seems like more and more people are jumping on board the Twitter train, but only for specific uses (like traveling). Rohit became a Twitter believer after deciding to make an effort to upd... [Read More]

» How To Use Twitter To Communicate from The How To Do Things Blog
Do you ever use Twitter? I opened an account a few months ago but as I do with all such websites, I read about it a lot on other websites and blogs but never went back to it after looking at it for the first time. The idea looked too vague to me, but ... [Read More]

» PR-Squared's "Social Media Tactics" Series ... Using Twitter To Create & Inform Communities from PR Squared
The last two posts werent crazy enough for ya? Lets get really wacky. Lets figure out how to use Twitter to help a Big Pharma company. That should be an interesting challenge. Everybody who uses it tends to ... [Read More]


Rohit, I was glad to see you become active on Twitter. Thanks for adding me back after I discovered you. A couple of things to add to your excellent list:

1. Twitter is a great place for getting answers to questions quickly. Throw out an "anybody know how to ..." question, and help is promptly on its way.

2. As with any other network, listen to the conversation and start adding friends of friends. I've found some amazing people this way -- even hired a web designer I know only through Twitter.

In response to your point number 8 - Facilitate Meetups>>> Just yesterday itself, I met with a friend at a party where we have had a few interactions on Pownce.

Rohit, I agree - Twitter has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool. One potential problem I see with Twitter (and microblogging in general): maintaining the expected posting frequency. Readers of this blog have an expectation of how often you post -- probably once every day or so. But on a microblog, I think that the expectation is increases: multiple posts each day. That's easily to do if you're traveling a lot or sitting in conferences, but what happens when you're working hard in the office without free time? Will you be able to maintain that frequency? Will you lose followers because it will be too difficult to maintain? Just a thought...


Twitter can be a tool for small businesses. In future businesses' can use this to let you know when your table is ready, or even let you know if there is a sale.

On the personal side, It's a tie between updating the staus in Facebook and using Twitter. I like the fact that I can use AIM to Twitter.

i posted that iwas working on a point of view for a finacial services brand and someone from ogilvyin asia who i have never met in real life but was on my twitter group asked if he could see the deck. we then collaborated through more traditional channels but twitter brought us together...

Interesting point of view. Of course, how one might use a microblogging tool depends on their attitude towards instant messaging, blogging in general and their need to feel connected or disconnected from the social world. By the way, have you ever tried Hictu ( It's still a small community if compared to Twitter, but there's something in its style that makes it different... and you can tumblelog too by creating instant audio and video posts.

I find Twitter is a great community to be a part of, and is also a great way to issue calls to action. I get a ton of blog traffic from Twitter, have had Twit-ups with new friends when traveling, and thoroughly enjoy the ability to whip one off on the fly with my phone.

Further, there is something to be said for it filling a void. I don't want to blog about the bad PR value of signing Barry Bonds. it's a waste of my readers time. But I do want to comment on it. Enter Twitter.

Great post Rohit. Just to add to the value of Twitter for marketers:

1. It serves as the most immediate news medium where you can find relevant information about your client and what influencers in their industry are saying prior to news sites and blogs.

2. It serves as a community building tool. You can follow and be followed by people interested in your clients. After putting relevant information that will interest people in that sector, you will start developing a significant amount of followers and forming a community around your clients or their industry.

3. This in turn provides immediately communication to a body of people that find you client's news to be relevant. Twitter can become the breeding ground for many blog post relating to your client.

4. With the addition of a search box (previous tools include terramind and Twitterroll) marketers can seek Tweets related to their client and find those influencers most relevant to them.

Chris Brogan ( is an avid Twitterer and has written some great articles about the value of Twitter for Marketers.

I've never seen you create a sucky blog post! I am absolutely loving all the information out now on social media marketing. I had no clue someone (you) had coined the phrase. I just new what I was doing was working.

I love your stuff

Now that Facebook has allowed you to update their status through Twitter, it makes a more convenient way for my 'entourage' to keep up with my whereabouts. I am often on the go, promoting events, attending events and so forth that now even my 'non-Twitter' friends can see whats going on through Facebook.

I'll admit that I was a dormant user like you for a while, but now its all the rage. I'll look for you there now too!

While I think you hit the nail on the head with all 8 reasons, you're missing what is likely the number 1 reason why Twitter is great for any business online (and especially personal(ity) brands)...

Twitter is the ultimate tool to cater to a very important human desire... the ability to be a fly on the wall.

For every person who wants to have access to an influential industry insider, blogger, or brand (etc), there are more who are equally happy to just tune in and see what you're up to (ie. what sites you visit; what type of daily tasks you're tackling; what interesting meetings are you going into)

It's an incredible tool to build brand loyalty and responsiveness.

Well I've ended up here because of a post on ProBlogger about Twitter. I have ignored Twitter but think maybe I am missing something valuable. Your site may be a useful resource for me too.

I enjoy Twitter partially because of the free tools available for Twitter members. And you don't need to explain to anyone if you decide to unfollow anyone. :) Good blog posts Rohit!

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