I’m often asked questions about Twitter and its 140-character magic. How does it work? How can I use it for my business? I realise that some people just don’t understand it or they can’t see the benefit. But here’s the thing: Twitter is within us all, and we all do it, every day, even if we’re not on Twitter.
“Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters.”
Quite simple really.
End of blog? Well not quite. I think we need to understand why it’s so simple and why we all have it within us to be a Twitter genius.
Twitter’s tagline is “Join the conversation”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been talking constantly since I learnt how to do it when I was a child. I’ve spent 30-odd years talking to others, sharing my thoughts, asking questions, telling people about my day and generally chatting to other human beings (some would say I over do it – wouldn’t they @pinky_princess?).
Forget the technology for a moment, forget that you can’t operate your smartphone and you’re forever losing the password to your online banking – forget all of it (you probably already have). Twitter is not really about the technology which often puts people off using it.
“Isn’t it just for young techie kids?” No, it isn’t, and don’t get me started on companies that get the intern to do their tweeting for them because they’re young so they’re ‘best suited’ to it!
Twitter is about communication.
Imagine for one moment that you’re in a queue in a shop. You’re there, there are others there, it’s a long queue and people are looking around at the environment they find themselves in. One person will turn to another and say “It’s always like this in here, they really need some more staff.” The person will respond with a polite nod and agreement, and others in the queue will listen intently, agreeing silently. The conversation will develop and often another queue-dweller will join in the conversation: “Lots of people are here because it’s lunchtime, there’s no other time they can come.” Then another person will pipe up: “Actually this place is open until 7pm on a Wednesday.” “Really?” says another: “well I didn’t know that.”
Others in the queue will now know that on Wednesday they can come late and this may help the queue in the future. If they then tell their friends, more people might visit the shop.
Mutual situation > conversation > information > education.
This is Twitter! This is a situation leading to a conversation, leading to shared information and education, and allowing others to join in and add their knowledge.
Twitter does this, but your queue is not geographically secured and you can be in that queue, or another queue, anywhere in the world, in any type of shop that you wish.
Of course if you own a shop and you want to educate or entertain your queue this then adds another dimension to it all. The shopkeeper can hear the queue in his shop and takes on board the ideas from the conversations. Listening to conversations about your business and brand is a powerful way to react and respond to your customers needs, and it’s happening on Twitter right now.
If you don’t own a shop, if you don’t have a queue, it’s harder to listen directly to your customers, and give them what they want (which ultimately affects your bottom line).
Twitter is people talking to people, and it’s a powerful way to use the skills we all have to benefit us and others around us, 140 characters at a time.
Anyone can tweet. It’s really just a big long digital queue of people and there’s millions of them, talking about you, them, him, her and everything in between – right now!
Technology is the medium which allows us to use Twitter, and yes I understand that not everyone knows how to reprogram the Sky box with their iPhone (yes you can do that). So consider this. Twitter was designed to use the SMS (text message) service. That’s why they’re so short, and that’s what makes Twitter so simple.
Can you text?
Can you talk?
Can you eavesdrop on millions of conversations?
Welcome to Twitter… come on in; the conversation’s lovely and warm.
About the author.
My name is Graham Todd and I’ve been engrossed and emersed in social media for almost three years. I train, blog and manage social media for business.