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I have to admit, I’m not an early adopter of Twitter.  The idea of effectively sharing short ‘Facebook status’-like updates or SMS messages with a group of people just didn’t seem to make sense.  I have to admit I’m hooked now and here’s why:

  • Certainly within the web developer community, pretty much anyone who has a blog is on there
  • These snippets (‘tweets’) can be insightful into how other people are working, such as I’ve found with Snook recently
  • It’s good for contacts – not that this will be life-changing in itself but it can be a more personal medium
  • You can get news often before it’s blogged/published – bloggers often comment about what they’re up to before the content is up as was the can with Ryan Carson (Carsonified) before the launch of the Future of Mobile conference site.  Good for early feedback.
  • When working in isolation (at home of whatever) I find it reminds me that there other people out there.

More than this, I can see how it can be useful for businesses too.

The obvious thing for a business/retailer is to see it as purely another platform to push content out to.  To some extent that can be true in the case of The Guardian or BBC News, where breaking stories are tweeted out to their community.  It’s a great additional channel for news media but could be used differently for say an e-commerce retailer.

The key for this market is that you can really engage with your audience: your customers.  It’s a brave move for some companies but to embrace social media in this way can give you a one-on-one with your public and talk about their concerns about your service and also the positive things they may have to say. It also gives you a chance to respond to current events more flexibly.  Maybe there’s a news item about your company; maybe you could address that situation in a very non-corporate kind of way and therefore appear more trustworthy.  Admit your flaws and discuss them openly!

When talking in a community like this, don’t keep pushing your products; you’ll alienate your followers.  Talk to them and find out what you can do better.  Learn more about who your customers are and occasionally reward them – give them exclusive deals as a thank you.

Anyone else have experiences of using Twitter (or similar; Plurk, Identi.ca)?  Any suggestions about how businesses should use micro-blogging?

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31st July, 2008