Inevitably, when I mention Twitter
to clients and audiences, a large majority tell me “I don’t get it.”
They are not alone. It’s been reported that many Twitter users
quit within the first month. It’s become even more popular for
pundits to dismiss
Twitter because it’s still searching for a business model. Despite
this negativity, Twitter continues to be front-page news daily. Nearly
every media outlet recommends we follow them on Twitter. If Twitter
isn’t in the news, it is instrumental to spreading it.
To be perfectly honest, while I’ve been a user for over a year, the
jury is still out for what
it’s done for me. I’m stuck somewhere between rationalizing the
time I spend reading and tweeting and wondering if it’s worth doing.
Only more time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m awed by its possibilities. While so many people
see Twitter as just “noise,” I see the diamonds in the rough. For
example, take Twitter’s
role in spreading the word about an Amber Alert. On Feb. 19, a
1-year old girl was abducted and kidnapped. The Amber Alert spread like
wildfire through Twitter. Here’s the chronology from one point of view,
reported by Partrick
O’Malley on his blog.
11:30 AM: Baby girl is kidnapped.
2:30 PM: Amber Alert is broadcast by the media. Patrick found the
story as reported by a news reporter friend on Twitter. He re-tweeted
the story. Now this wouldn’t necessarily be big news had Patrick not
been building a list of followers. But with a Twitter network of 20,000
plus followers, his message reached a targeted audience. He then kept
retweeting the information periodically to make sure it wasn’t missed.
Many of his followers did the very same thing. One of those followers
was actress Alyssa Milano, who passed it to her 600,000 followers in a
5:00 PM: The girl was found in a rest stop in Connecticut — safe and
What exact role Twitter played in the girl’s rescue remains unclear.
But the sheer speed and reach of Twitter confirms undeniably that
Twitter, or at least its functionality, is not going away. It’s became a
primary mode of communication during the Iran uprising last year. It
became a primary source of news during the Haiti earthquake. It played a
critical role in President Obama’s election and in Senator Scott
Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts. And during the recent blizzard that
hit the mid-Atlantic region, I used Twitter to check on power outages
and up-to-date local news. Waiting for news at 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.
just isn’t good enough anymore.
What’s your experience with Twitter? What do you think Twitter will
become when it “grows up?” What are some of the best ways you are using
Twitter in your business? I’d like to know. Post a comment below
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