By Wesley Craig Green (c) 2009
There's a new web application on the block that has everyone talking and it goes by the name of Twitter. Twitter is fast becoming one of the more popular methods for communicating online and has a large number of loyal followers who stick with it despite the growing pains and competitors. While this article won't cover everything possible with Twitter, it will give you a good starting point on how to start using it and how you can use it for your business.
What Is This Twitter You Speak Of?
So what is Twitter and how can it be of benefit to you or your business? Twitter is a free online micro-blogging application which gives you the ability to send out short messages (up to 140 characters) called "tweets" to people who are following you on Twitter.
You can send tweets either through your computer or by using your cell phone via a text message. These tweets/messages can be about anything you want and they can include links, as well.
Making Twitter even more useful is the ability to send a direct message to someone you are following (this is done by entering @username at the beginning of your message) or replying to someone's tweet with your tweet. You would be surprised how common it is to reply to someone's message then to have someone who is either following you or the person you sent the reply to reply to your initial message and so on.
People can follow you and your tweets by first signing-up for their own free Twitter account at the Twitter site then adding you to their líst of people they are following. Once you have created your account, you can either check your Twitter page (your personal page which appears after you sign-in at the Twitter home page) for any of your friends' new messages or you can send out your messages. But it is much easier, in my opinion, to use one of the many online or desktop applications which give you the ability to do all of this and more.
Twitter As A Communication Tool
Twitter is a quick and easy way to communicate with family, friends, business associates, and also within a company setting. Being an online service, Twitter is available to anyone with online access. All you have to do is login to your account through any number of third-party applications developed for Twitter or through the Twitter site and you are ready to go.
Within a company setting, employees could have a Twitter account created for them with the option to have their messages protected. This means only people they (or you or the person in charge of creating the Twitter accounts) approve will be able to send and receive messages from them. The same thing could be done using an instant message program but with Twitter, there would be no software to install and it would be accessible from anywhere with an online connection. Additionally, the person who is in charge of the Twitter accounts will have the power to control who is and who isn't part of this private Twitter network.
Even though there are tons of online communication applications available, Twitter can also be used as a way for people who are collaborating on a project to stay in touch with one another regardless of where they are. And depending on which third-party application they are using to Twitter with, these conversations can be saved for future reference. There are even some third-party apps which you can use to send files up to 10MB to anyone you are following as long as they are using the same application, that is. Still, a handy feature to have and one which may become a feature of Twitter if there's a big enough demand for it.
Marketing With Twitter
Herein lies the great thing about Twitter from a business perspective: the marketing potential it offers users. Sure, it is great to send messages and chat using Twitter, but it can also be a great marketing tool if used correctly. Have some breaking news you want to get out quickly? Send it out as a Tweet. Made an important update to your blog or web site? Let people know about it instantly with a Tweet.
Want to promote your project, book, movie, whatever by giving away a free download or preview? Send out a Tweet with a URL to the free download. Only want to market something to certain individuals you are following? Simply enter their username preceded by the "@" and you are set.
Another simple marketing tool available with Twitter is the ability to befriend people who are following someone you already follow. While this practice could backfire on you if you begin to add everyone you find following someone you are following, be picky and just befriend those who either share similar tastes that you do or work in the same field as you or already follow many of the same people you do. Otherwise, you could come off as a spammer which will be a hard image to shake.
Twitter Now And Beyond
Twitter represents a fundamental change in the way people communicate online. There have always been instant messengers and they have their place and purpose but they don't provide the one thing which sets Twitter apart and that is the ability to instantly communicate with either a couple of people or potentially thousands without the need for proprietary software. No need to download this piece of software in order to communicate with this person or that organization.
Much like how blogging has become a staple of today's society, Twitter and "twittering" is on the same path to becoming ingrained in today's culture despite only being around for less than two years. So simple in its execution, powerful in the marketing opportunities it offers, and ease of use, Twitter will be one of the top web technologies to gain worldwide prominence in 2009.
If you like, you can follow me on Twitter by going to http://twitter.com/GeekEntrepreneu and clíck on the Follow button.
About The Author
Wesley Craig Green is The Geek Entrepreneur, an entrepreneur who is a publisher, owner of an online classified ads network of sites, two web sites focusing on independent and digital comics and graphic novels. You can check out his personal blog, Geek Entrepreneur which is dedicated to entrepreneurship, blogging, inspiration, technology, and small business