Up until last week, I had never had much use for Twitter. To me, it was just another inane example of people sharing far more than anyone wants to know about them. Then I stumbled across a fantastic use of Twitter and started having second thoughts. I still can't see the sense in letting the world know who is hanging out in your hotel room, but I am thinking there could be some unique applications for it.
That's why I was pleased to see the new Big Juicy Twitter Guide being put together by Caroline Middlebrook.
I first encountered Twitter at least a year ago. I loaded it up and watched the activity on the main Twitter page. All I saw was a seemingly pointless stream of tweets that literally documented every movement of people's daily lives down to the unnecessary detail of what they were eating for dinner! I tried sending a few updates but nobody was following me so I was just talking to myself. I played with it for a couple of hours and then ignored it for a year or so.
Twitter is now being recognized as a valuable marketing tool and I'll explain why in the upcoming sections of the guide. But here's the thing - you don't have to listen to the incoming noise! You can ignore it if you choose to. Unlike email, Twitter is just 'fly on the wall' communication. On the other hand, if you have people following you, you hope they are listening so you can get your message across.
She's got three parts up so far. Check them out:
Caroline has four more parts planned covering tools, mashups, APIs and marketing your feed. They should be interesting reads. (You'll be able to get to all of them from her Big Juicy Twitter Guide page.)
Caroline's series has me thinking about the various uses for Twitter. I'm not sure I agree with her in terms of sending "no more than one tweet per hour" and using it to build up rapport with folks. (I can't see myself subscribing to any Twitter feeds that came more than once or twice a DAY.) That said, I can think of a few ways a good Twitter feed would improve my life.
So off the top of my head...here are a few Twitter style feeds I'd subscribe to:
1.) A subscription to FedEx, UPS or DHL that sends me a message letting me know a package will be arriving today. I work from home but leave the house at least once a day to run the kids someplace or to go work out. It's not uncommon for me to get packages I need to sign for. If I could get a notice on my cell phone telling me a delivery was coming, I'd make sure I was home. Otherwise, I end up driving 30 miles to go pick up the package myself.
2.) A super ultra-discount notice for my favorite stores. Let's say Amazon allows me to sign up for a Twitter feed. They then use the feed to send me a notice that says "for the next hour, products from Company X are 50% off." I'd subscribe. ;) I'd even put up with some regular ad messages from them in exchange for having a jump on super discounts. (Woot! does this)
3.) Ticket notices from a site like Expedia. I hate the game of "how long can I wait before that flight sells out?" Yet I play it all the time. I'd love to be able to subscribe to a Twitter style feed that lets me know when flight seats reach a certain threshold.
4.) Breaking news. I already mentioned this in my post about finally finding a use for Twitter, but it bears repeating. When natural disasters strike, people want updates. If a news company used Twitter responsibly, (Britney's custody case is NOT breaking news) I'd subscribe to a feed that sent me notice of important breaking news. (CNN and others do this)
Basically...anything that I want quicker than e-mail (because let's face it, I'm not always at my computer, though I do always have my phone with me) would be worthy of getting Tweets.
This will leave me doing some brainstorming. I've written Twitter off as inane for quite some time, but the concept is starting to win me over. How about you? How could you use Twitter for your business? What types of tweets would make you sign up?
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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