This week, I started using Twitter after almost a year long hiatus with a few attempts in between. And now, I’m absolutely hooked.
During my first class in the MCDM program, my professor encouraged us to play around with Twitter. As a long time social networking site user and a web 2.0 advocate, I’d self proclaimed myself as an early adopter to new tools and gadgets.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was difficult for me to understand why I would feel the need to update my exact whereabouts practically every minute of the day, especially when I already had a tool that worked just perfectly fine. I had been tailoring my Facebook updates to express my two cents to a closed group of social networks. Besides, status updates become more fun when you have an audience reading your daily rants and thoughts and commenting back with stamps of approval or comic relief.
Then, I discovered that Twitter is quite different than a just fancy version of Facebook status updates.
After two years since my Twitter introduction, I am finally jumping on the Twitter phenomenon. I don’t know how long it will last, but for now, I’m seeing the bigger picture that is social media. Social media is an online tool to help build relationships. Whether you are representing a business or yourself, you are walking on a two way street.
Many people rely on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with other people. They utilize features on these sites such as status updates and news feeds to build personal and professional relationships. But these sites are limited to people connections. They provide a two way street for people like us who choose to be connected.
Alternatively, Twitter also provides a two way street, but it includes a connection between businesses and people. You choose to be connected, but it is not necessarily a connection validated by both parties. Anyone or any business with a Twitter account can instantly follow a user.
Witnessing the powerful effect of social media tools, businesses are often scratching their heads to come up with the latest and greatest way to “communicate” with their customers. They have experimented with blogs and uploads, but they can be timely and take up a lot of resources. Twitter is starting to break ground as a social media tool that connects businesses to consumers in a different way. It is different than blogs, articles, and Facebook fan pages, because Twitter is the real time transparency that consumers demand in their sub conscience. Marketers need to embrace the truth in that social media is not directly tied to ROI. It’s about building brand equity through critical mass. It is a long term strategy and not a shortcut to immediate monetary return. In my opinion, social media is best used as a complementary marketing tool, just as many brand oriented marketing campaigns support direct response advertising. Just my two cents.
Personally, Twitter is like using a 2.0 version of RSS feeds, because you’re not only receiving updates (“tweets”) but you are also contributing at the same time. It’s a conversation. It’s a two way street.
I started to follow news sites such as MSNBC, CNN, and New York Times on Twitter. That lead to following companies that I take interest with. Which eventually lead to following social groups like our MCDM program and the upcoming Super Bowl. Then, slowly (but surely) I broke out of my Twitter cocoon. I realized that, for me, Twitter is an optimal social network to update the world about my daily rants on digital media. It’s the first social networking site that I am not afraid of partaking in public (with no privacy features), because it is an environment where I want the world to hear what I have to say. Facebook wasn’t a great atmosphere for this for me. Twice, I tried linking my Twitter to FB status updates, and it hasn’t been a hit. But who knows, this could change as the way we interact with our online audience continues to evolve.
This so-called revelation of mine isn’t to say Twitter is the new grand solution for everything. Nor am I definite that Twitter has a promising future. But when a website is not monetizing and receives non-solicited bids up to $250M, you have to tilt your head and wonder what the hype is all about.
I still consider myself an early adopter for the most part, but I think it takes a couple of tries to make any new tool stick. Every effort can be a hit or miss when it comes to social media tools, such as networking sites, user generated content, and applications.
So haters, beware. I learned my lesson the hard way. Fad or no fad, you just may be missing out on the next big thing, because with social media, everything is inevitable. Give Twitter the benefit of doubt.