When you hear or read a word that makes no sense, it’s either a new slang term, or a term related to a new technology. One such term that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot these days is “tweet”, which when used as a noun, it refers to a message on the new social networking platform, Twitter. As a verb, to “tweet” something refers to broadcasting a message through Twitter, and that message can reach a global audience.
One thing that makes Twitter so popular is the ease of use, and the ability to use the technology on a number of different platforms, like PCs and phones. Another thing driving its popularity is the format, in which the user submits short entries (140 characters or less) that can cover any number of topics, all dependent on the person “tweeting”. This 140-character limitation makes it a popular choice for cell phone users, who can rapidly tap out text messages, only now their audience can be the world.
While a great number of users are utilizing the technology for social commentaries (Waiting in the airport – airport security sucks) or general blithering topics (I had a Big Mac for lunch – it sucked), a large number of people are using the technology for marketing their business or their ideas. Since I’ve started using Twitter, I’ve been privy to some pretty good information from sources that remained untapped until now. Leading experts in their fields who use Twitter can spread ideas or reveal personal insight into choices they make in their own businesses. For someone who is an independent businessperson looking for new ideas, this is akin to receiving consultation services from the top industry experts.
Another segment of the population is using Twitter, and they are getting large number of “followers” (people who subscribe to your “tweets”), due to their popularity. Of course, I’m talking about celebrities of sports, sound and screen. By following one of your favorite entertainers, you can gain an insight into their private lives, making you a part of their “inner circle”. Of course, you might have never guessed that Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t like carrots, or that Ashton Kutchner just saw a bird with one leg, but for some folks, that’s a huge revelation.
Personally, I use Twitter infrequently, in regards to my posting “tweets.” I follow a number of people (less than 30), and of those, more than half are friends, and we use it rather than “texting”. For those of you on a cell phone plan that charges for your text messages, using Twitter might be an acceptable alternative, if you have a phone with Internet capabilities. There are a number of third-party utilities for the various cell phones (Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile) and they all can do the basics, reading and broadcasting “tweets.”
New technologies can sometimes be a flash in the pan, but Twitter is one of those that seems to have a little bit of staying power. With the short attention span of most people these days, getting your voice heard in 140 characters or less can be pretty appealing.