April 19, 2009

Active Uses of Twitter, Pt. 1

Evan Williams visited the Raikes School for a fireside chat between himself and whomever else managed to get in the door. It might have been a miss-communication, but the event was over advertised. The event was so popular that Paul and Dan had to act as bouncers. Dan even accidentially turned away Williams' mother from attending the talk - Hey, if you're not on the list, you're not on the list.

The talk was Webcast to anyone who wanted to listen, and the #evUNL search term was used to field questions from people in the audience and listening from remote locations. The event went pretty well, I know Nate worked hard on it. Williams fielded a wide range of questions from the audience - like technical, business and the celebrity users of twitter. Shaquille O'Neal is an avid twitter user, and Ashton Kutcher is more popular than CNN.

Someone had to ask the burning question, "How is twitter going to make money?" This is a very inappropriate question to ask. It's like asking for the formula to Coca-Cola - He's not going to tell you that. He'll tell you after it makes money.

I started using twitter a few weeks ago and I think it is fun. I especially like being able to update when I'm away from my desk (I use TwitterBerry). Most of my friends use Twitter so it is fun to keep up to date in a different medium.

Corporations, companies, businesses, for-profits, non-profits, and any other entities have begun the task of trying to tap into Twitter to market to consumers and maintain brand image. Twitter is unique in the fact that companies can hear you; you make a public post about how much you like Starbucks - Starbucks hears it. I offer you the real life example:

That was the post that I heard Kiel make. I responded with this:

After about 6 hours, I received this:

The Sonics heard me. This might be a little too creepy, but I thought this was really cool. If people are talking about the Sonics, the Soncis want to hear about it.


  1. I agree with the whole "companies want to know what people are saying about them" thing, but I question whether that is the primary motivation for following people, or whether in a lot of cases it is simply another form of targeted marketing.

    For instance, when you say something about cars, and some auto-body shops start following you, is it because they care what you have to say about cars or because they want you to be aware of their existence and "tech savy-ness?" Maybe they hope you'll follow them back and then they can send you ads and promotional tweets.

    I have been seeing a trend lately where twitter is being used as a promotional tool like that and it annoys me. I think the medium has potential to allow for this type of thing, but "follow-spam" is not the most effective way. Also god forbid the day where the norm of twitter etiquette dictates that you follow back whoever follows you, facebook style.

  2. The companies definitely are using Twitter for targeted marketing - they pay focus groups to determine what the public thinks of them.

    Twitter is more like a real life community than any other social network. There is a time factor to tweets that Facebook cannot match. It can be described like any other community or event - Like a music festival (Please excuse the ensuing anti-establishment example). At first its great and everyone is having a good time. But when companies realize that there is a strong gathering of people that fit into the same marketing demographic, they can justify sending down an army of marketing people to either sell their product or get the word out about their product.

    But the people attending the show do not want to hear about cell phone plans or cars, they want to have fun - what they went there to do (Facebook faced this problem when they integrated ads). Once the Twitter community is littered with advertising, people will leave - just like festivals run for a while then disband.

  3. Kevin: Blog about your last point plz.

    My shameless self-promoting hopes are that people keep asking him the "last tweet" question. You can tell a lot about a person. You think of your "dying words" as things you would say to your family, but what if they whole world was listening? What if this is the last thing people saw about you in 200 years?

    Once again, shameless. Did you catch the Opera show with him? It's like they forgot he was there.