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Friday, February 20, 2009

About this Twitter thing

Twitter is the current big thing and as I've been tweeting for a while, people keep asking me what it's about and what's the point.

Twitter basically allows you to give short status snippets of what you're doing, thinking or sharing (eg URLs) - and you can do this by web or your mobile phone. That's the basic value proposition.

You can "follow" people whose tweets you want to read, and more and more celebrities are signing up and allowing a revealing insight into their thoughts and lives: Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry for example. I've just started following Jane Fonda and David Bowie (although I'm still not convinced it's really him).

As a marketing device, companies can start Twitter sites. Intel, my company, has several, as does Dell and also Starbucks. It's a great way of delivering updates and snippets. You can also allow a dialogue with your followers.

I became aware of how compelling a marketing vehicle it is when I started gaining followers based on my tweets. I mentioned cloud computing (as you do) and I'm now followed by two cloud computing associations. I posted a tweet about being bitten by a squirrel, and now I'm followed by Squirrelnet. I am wondering if I should now revisit cloud computing and squirrels to try to satisfy my new admirers.

The other good thing about Twitter is that it's linked to Facebook. If you update your Twitter status, that update is reflected on Facebook. Twitter also updates Facebook with my blog updates, and I notice traffic has improved since I started doing this.

The fascinating part about Twitter is that it doesn't have any sort of visible funding. There are no adverts. I imagine this will follow. I believe that as soon as Twitter becomes as ubiquitous as Facebook, it will lose its appeal. Even now I am finding it harder to filter the good tweets and I'm only following 21 people. There are quite a few sites offering Twitter applets and ways of dressing up your page, but I prefer to keep mine plain.

Give it a try - it's quite addictive!

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