Twitter 101- A Useless or Useful Tool?

For anyone who’s read the news online or offline, there’s a huge buzz about Twitter.  In this post I will try to describe what I’ve seen as far as how people use this Cloud based service.

Here’s my take on what some, maybe most, people experience with Twitter their first time:

  1. People hear about it
  2. They sign up at
  3. Prompted by the big “What are you doing?” question, they write something like “just finished a good meal. Yum”
  4. They think to themselves “This is really useless.”  And they stop.

I’d argue these folks are missing the point of Twitter.

Here’s a few ways to think about Twitter that you might not have thought of before – some might interest you, some might not:

  1. Search engineTwitter Search is the new Google for early information.  If what I’m finding on Google doesn’t suit my needs, and I’m looking for something a little more bleeding edge, I turn to Twitter search.  You have to filter through more to find what you need, but in the end there are tidbits you just can’t get anywhere else.   Want to find out about EMC Analyst Day?   Check it out here.  Want to find out where U2 is playing a secret show in the Boston area?  Click here.
  2. Business broadcasting.  Anyone with a business should be using Twitter to load up content that users will be searching for.  Know that your customers and prospects will be searching for your popular keywords and try to insert them into your posts every now and then.  Internally at EMC we call RecoverPoint “RP” and Replication Manager “RM” – but for searchability it’s best to try to go the extra mile by typing complete words/brandnames every now and again.  Don’t type YAA (yet another acronym) even though you are limited to 140 words.  “Follow” businesses you want to learn more about.  “Unfollow” them when they overcommunicate or you find them annoying.  It’s a tool you can manage to “get it your way.”
  3. Personal broadcasting.  If you want to broadcast/communicate with everyone you know personally via Twitter or if you want to become known in a certain subject area for providing exceptional service and knowledge, then load up Twitter with your area of expertise whether it’s about discounts on the web, buying a car, BBQ sauce, cloud computing, or storage technology.  “Follow” people you find interesting or want to learn more about.  You can link Twitter with Facebook and have your Twitter updates update your Facebook status, which is nice – especially when you have it hooked up on a mobile device.
  4. Competitor monitor.   Search Twitter for your competitors.  “Follow” them.  Then destroy them!  🙂   I prefer not to engage in direct competitive spouts on the web, these are best for in-room discussions and only if the customer prompts me.
  5. Reputation/brand monitor. Search Twitter for your own name and your brand names (if applicable).  You can subscribe to search terms using something TweetDeck.   Tweetdeck is also real nice for segmentation of family/friends/work.
  6. Idea feedback/generation.  If you have 1 follower and you ask “I’m in Tokyo, where’s a good place to eat?” – you probably won’t get anything back.  If you have 50,000 followers and you ask the same question, you’ll probably get a bunch of good responses.  But nothing really statistically relevant to base “real” business decisions on. As Jeff Henning (survey software guru) writes:  If you are posting a link to your survey on blogs and Twitter feeds, it will not be representative of any target population, and no number of responses is going to make it so.
  7. Event monitoring. For me, the best time I’ve had on Twitter so far was watching the debates of McCain vs Obama.  Live updates and mockery and criticism from a huge variety of bipartisan perpectives all happening in “real-time.”  While watching a real-time event, or a major category – there is usually a tag (hashtag) indicated by the # symbol.  Other uses of that symbol indicate a topic of discussion such as  #boston, #SxSW, or  #EMC. You should tag your stuff so when people use tags to find info, they can see your stuff.  At the upcoming TechEd show in LA and the EMC World event in Orlando, I’m thinking of twittering under the #Teched and #EMCworld tags.  I just signed up to receive BestofTechEd09 (Windows IT Pro magazine) updates.  EMC’s got a shot, as usual.

Any other ways to use Twitter that I’m missing?

Well, hopefully you can see some ways to use Twitter that are useful to you… As I’ve seen with Google, there are good ways and bad ways to game the system from automated tools that “Tweet” for you to just plain useless update.  Remember every Tweet you send is on the web – permanently –  so don’t be a Twit.

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4 thoughts on “Twitter 101- A Useless or Useful Tool?

    1. Brian Post author

      good point, I guess time will tell what it turns into. And I don’t know many 13 year olds, so I can’t comment on that…

  1. Stuart Miniman

    Twitter is sure getting a lot of airtime (even was mentioned in today’s Foxtrot comic strip) and is one of those things that can *not* be easily explained. Every blogger out there has done a post on Twitter (I’ve done a couple) and the thing about it is that it can serve different purposes for different people. If you have a blog, just about every blogger is on Twitter and you can not only alert of your posts, but socialize ideas and use Twitter as an echo chamber for what things might be worth exploring further. Funny, I’ve got a cousin and sister in college and I knew about Twitter before they did.
    Twitter is just 1 tool pushing real-time web and social networking.

  2. Pingback: The Who’s Who of Storage Twitters « Storagenerve

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