22
Jun

What’s all this Twitter about, then?

As I write and you read, millions of football fans around the world are digesting, dissecting, rejoicing and commiserating with each other through Twitter. Three new Tweets per Second (TPS) records were set in the first few days of the World Cup Finals. The service has become a lifeline for fans. In fact, almost any event you can think of can be followed through Twitter. Attendees and often organizations themselves post comments, or “tweets”, on whatever is happening. We can no longer ignore the leviathan that Twitter has become. It seems that everyone and everything is on Twitter, everywhere.

In case you’ve missed the hype – which seems unlikely – Twitter is what many call a “micro-blogging platform” where people can subscribe and update their status in a text message of up to 140 characters, via the internet whenever they want, wherever they want.

The new tool has taken off in past 5 years, with mobile phones at the heart of its success. In the first quarter of 2010, 4 billion tweets were posted. All told, there are an estimated 100 million tweeters out there. So it’s popular and it keeps us up to date. But why would companies or organizations want it, and how should we use it? Isn’t Twitter just a glorified way of staying up to date with sports news and Hollywood gossip? Not by a long shot. Twitter is modern communications tool that can achieve many goals, but whose success depends on the sophistication of the user. The trick is knowing how to use the platform and when. Politicians are using it to diffuse their opinions. News outlets are using tweets as news alerts. News broadcasters are drawing on Twitter as a prominent news source. Businesses are using Twitter to keep in touch with customers.

Here are three reasons why.

1. To engage with stakeholders more intimately than ever before through applications such as twtQpon, CoTweet, Twithawk or bubbletweet.

2. To react spontaneously and emotionally to developments – Twitter is used more than any other media site for discussing the news.

3. To follow your own business gurus and information sources closely and in real time.

We are only beginning to appreciate how useful this tool can be. How are you using it?