If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry. Twitter is a bit of a head scratcher. Most people don’t get it at first and it usually requires taking Twitter for a spin to discover its appeal.
When you set up your account and post your first tweet (yes, Twitter has its own vocabulary) it’s rather anti-climactic. But that’s because Twitter is a social application and when you first log on you probably don’t have much of a network with which to socialize.
You “follow” other people on Twitter to have their updates delivered to you, and vice-versa. So instead of just talking to yourself, you have a whole stream of updates coming in from your friends and acquaintances.
You can also interact with this stream of updates by replying (public) or sending direct messages (private). Conversations quickly develop and networking is happening.
One feature of Twitter that’s helped it spread is that it’s so ubiquitous. Despite what you might think looking at Twitter.com, you don’t have to sit at your desk and visit the website to post tweets. Twitter ties into the text messaging world, so you can send and receive tweets on your cell phone. You can also tie Twitter into Facebook or status updates on other social networking sites. There are also a number of desktop applications that plug into Twitter, allowing you to post updates without ever visiting the site. Your status updates can also be streamed onto a website, so your content isn’t limited to people on Twitter.
Suddenly Twitter is no longer just geeks tied to their computers. The world is at your fingertips—well 140-characters at a time anyway.
So What’s the Big Deal?
The reason Twitter matters is because people are using it. Go where the people are. It also happens to be a low-barrier way to communicate. It requires minimal investment: no website to set up, no money to pay and you can’t even type more than 140 characters. There are few marketing avenues you can try that have such a low barrier to entry. What do you have to lose?
Sure celebrities are using Twitter to gossip, geeks are posting pictures and sleazy marketers are spamming people, but there are also businesses making good. Comcast is trying to save its customer service, Ford is reaching out, a Twin Cities pizza shop is offering coupons, a cupcake truck in Connecticut is reaching customers. These businesses care about Twitter and it’s working for them. (Twitter even has a getting started guide for businesses.)
You should care about Twitter because it’s an easy way to communicate with your customers. Sending a coupon or answering a question is as easy as pulling out your phone and sending a text message.
Check it out and give it a try. What can you do with 140 characters?