Until recently I believed that Twitter was a very odd pastime for people who were narcissistic or lonely. That was until my friend Kelli Brown who’s a Twitter expert gave me a few tips. The truth is that I already believed there might be some value in Twitter a year ago – that’s when I started my first twitter account, on the advice of my friend Mayer Reich at RankAbove. At that time I took a very popular website that had a lot of updates on a daily basis, but did not have a twitter account. I made a twitter account with their name and then used TwitterFeed to automatically feed updates from the sites RSS directly to the twitter account. That was about a a year ago – now I have over 45,000 followers. Seriously. I haven’t made any money from this yet – well maybe $20 from ad clicks… By the way – I get tens of messages daily from this account and I don’t exactly know what to do. I suspect that the company itself probably wants to control the twitter account that I created for them. The problem is that if they try to contact me via a direct message I won’t read it because I have hundreds of messages waiting to be read, oh well….
Anyway, Fast forward to now. This is what I want to say:
I divide the Twitter experience into two parts:
– Friends and Followers
– Realtime information
In the realm of Friends and Followers I can only make sense of people who are careful about who they follow and keep their group of “friends” very relevant to them. In this realm I see Twitter as a way to listen in to what your circle of friends is saying – a little like being on an email list where people share links and short thoughts – but with more latitude.
As far as Realtime Information – this is where I see the real value. Google is no doubt a great search engine, but Twitter adds 2 very important things that Google misses out (so far).
- Real People
- Right Now
Google tells you what websites say, it includes some news and blogs and even shopping, but its not “regular people” who don’t have a website or a blog. Google is really fast – we have seen them cache pages in a minute or so, but for most searches – the results on Google seem to be months old.
Why do we care?
Say you wanted to take a vacation to Italy – if you search on Google you will see tour companies and official sites. Try searching on Twitter. Now you see tweets about renting a houseboat in Venice, staying at a cottage, etc. Twitter gets you past the corporate sites and down to real people. Even when you end up on a corporate site via Twitter, your chances of having a real person to answer questions is very high.
So, for me, Twitter is a reflection of what real people are saying right now.
Now imagine interacting with real people, right now – you can ask them questions – make them offers – communicate with them. And they opt in to your conversation, either by following you or by searching a term that you tweeted about.
Think about it…