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29th September 2009

Getting to grips with Twitter: Part 1

Thoughts By 8 years ago

Anyone not heard of Twitter? Didn’t think so. Talk of Twitter in the media has been impossible to avoid. If you believe the hype Twitter is the answer to everyone’s Social Media prayers. From keeping in touch with friends and following the people you admire to marketing your company or generating a following for a cause. So what sort of Social Media journey would I be on if I didn’t get to grips with Twitter?

I am going to lay my reservations down on the table straight away. My initial feelings to Twitter was that it was purely a glorified Facebook Status update. Why Tweet when I can just change my FB status, why bother with another system? Secondly, I really don’t care what Ashton Kutcher is having for lunch and I think he’d care even less what was on my menu. I find it hard to believe that anyone would really care enough to ask me every second of every day Twitter’s famous question “What are you doing?”

As I am a banker who tends to think more in tangibles that can be graphed and not in terms like word-of-mouth or goodwill I thought Twitter would have little impact for business. Twitter was originally designed with the purpose of staying in touch with friends however the true power is turning out to be in its use as a marketing tool. It’s a one to many system, in effect screaming from a soapbox however the real beauty for the screamer is that you can tailor the audience or even better the audience will come looking for you. There is no wasted effort or resources telling people that don’t care as there is in mass media.

However I still can’t avoid asking the question “What business wants to speak with customers in real time with the whole world able to eavesdrop?” Don’t businesses need time to think things through, get approval, co-ordinate a reply? I understand the argument that Twitter can help the business or product generate a following or develop a “personality” but surely this must take a considerable, co-ordinated effort and would only really preach to the converted. Is it really worth it?

twitter.com.png

If you are nosey (and who isn’t hmm?) Twitter is a Godsend. Maybe you really would like to know about Ashton’s lunch, or what Stephen Fry is reading or what the latest interest rates from Ubank are. Whether you are a friend or enemy, competitor or partner this is all really valuable (well sometimes at least) information at your fingertips, instantly.

So in the true spirit of scientific research I have joined Twitter, @MatthewGAbbott if you’d like to let me know what you are doing, or maybe you have some suggestions on what I should be doing? (be polite!). I have downloaded TweetDeck to try and make some sense of the jumble (and prattle), have learnt what DM and RT stand for, what Hash Tags are and have begun following (No to Ashton but yes to Stephen) and being followed (mostly by spammers but it’s a start).

In addition I looked at some statistic gleaned from the web and found these thought provoking;

10% of users create 90% of Tweets

40% of Tweets are pointless babble

40% of Twitter users have not tweeted since joining

80% of Twitter users have fewer than 10 Tweets

What does this tell me? Well it makes me feel like I am not the only one out there dipping my toes into Twitter. With this much hype around people are going to experiment and it looks like that is what the majority of users have done. Nobody wants to miss the technological boat and they are probably trying to answer the same questions as me “What’s all the fuss about?” or more likely “What am I missing out on here?”

Well the experiment is now underway. I wonder which statistic I’ll end up being?  Will I end up one of the hardcore 10%, or one of the voyeuristic 80%, or just another pointless twittering in the aviary?

  • On your point re:what business wants to talk to their customer realtime, I pose the question back, who on earth wants to listen to company news and press releases in real time? Unless its Apple, I really don’t care what a business wants to tell me, advertising on TV and social media platforms is the same thing.

  • i think you just proved your own point josh, when you said ‘unless its apple’…
    companies work hard to build up brand loyalty, think of the 80-20 rule – this is an amazingly effective way to keep the people who actually love and buy your goods in the loop…
    you are fiercely loyal to apple, and want to know what’s happening… the same probably goes for other brands… i meanwhile ride an Orbea, and would never buy another type of bike, i’d love to know what Orbea are up to, i also love HTCs and Nokias, once again, i follow these companies out of interest, and my interest can earn them money, with very little effort on their behalf…

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