Victus Spiritus


What can actually be accomplished with twitter?

19 Mar 2009


My first instinct, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, was the childlike king of the mountain rush to get as many followers and popularity as I could.  It was only for a moment before I abandoned this path (mostly), before I thought about what I would do even if I could gain an instant of interest from the entire community.

After several hours of using twitter, specifically my web browser and TweetDeck, I've been getting a feel for the type of information flow available.  It all comes down to the type of people you follow and the tools you use to sift through the data.  If you follow intelligent, insightful individuals/companies you are likely to get introduced to some fantastic web content that you may have missed from other paths.  The feel of twitter is a mashup of instant messenger (but on a slower time scale) with status updates (Facebook) and a human powered web catalog (much like Digg, Stumble Upon, Reddit, etc).  It's easy to follow suggested links and quickly lose track of time as you continually discover fascinating new perspectives and stories about the world we live in, and fantasies of what it may be.

As with any tool, you have to determine what you want to get out of twitter, and then use it appropriately.  If you make well thought tweets about engaging topics you're likely to grow your follower list.  But what are you going to do if every person on Earth follows your 140character one liners?  Are you going to sell them something?   Or is there the faintest chance that something super cognitive and real can come out of the masses of status update minutia?  Artificial intelligence spawned from a swarm of natural intelligences, the possibilities are fascinating and nearly endless.

Here are just a few compelling reasons for using tweeter now:

  1. The first application feeds into how twitter can monetize it's addictive network.  I'm beginning to think there is great potential in sorting through the information that people tweet about (the collection).  The post analysis could do much to improve our knowledge of how information flows in swarm intelligence.  This information could be sold to big marketing companies with an excellent premium/monthly subscription, and it would be dynamically updated.
  2. It's like a real time white board where your community of chosen leaders can pass along their most precious information. Initially I believed twitter would have a greater market impact if the number of tweets per day were limited, but realize now that over tweeting will just result in a natural decline in followers.  At the very least each user would more carefully choose what he would share with his followers.  Either way more powerful filters and more frequent updates could both be beneficial in unison.
  3. Marketing, marketing, marketing!  In a rapidly increasing web space, making a connection with a potential interested customer can be a great way to spread ideas about your company or product.  An ongoing relationship between consumer and company can strengthen both the happiness of the customer, and the wealthiness/healthiness of the business.
  4. Feedback from the customer to the company.  You can get real time information about what people like best about your current product, and what would be most desirable in the future.

One of the major drawbacks of twitter is that there is information overload.  As much as I try, I can only concentrate on a few concepts at a time.  There is a need for twitter addons/tools to help segregate the information into bite sized pieces.  Luckily there's an ever growing list of people building products to help us sift through the mountain (I listed a few of them here along with some great reference pages).  There is also a growing number of articles/bloggers dedicated to helping you make the most of your twitter experience (I suppose I'm one of them now, although a neophyte).

I'm in the process of using TweetDeck to organize those that I follow into categories...*update I just catch up by doing a twitter search or going to a few friends twitter homepages.

Don't forget twitter search (the Summize guys started this, I think?)

And of course to leave off with some twitter fun: from SuperNews