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Twitter is a Conversation Ecosystem

Readers of this blog know that I am part of a small group who are trying to push the edges of our company and are working on some social application experiments. Twitter is one of those experiments, and I keep a personal stream as well as one for our Wrox imprint.

An early adopter of Twitter, I have struggled with communicating the value of tools like it for my organization - as have many others I am sure. Today I picked up on three great posts in this theme (via @jowyang on Twitter, no doubt.)

David Armano, VP of Experience Design with Critical Mass, says Twitter is a Conversation Ecosystem, and provides some great visuals that help to drive the point home.

Explaining Twitter is an act in futility unless the person you explain it to understands the intricacies of social networks (saying conversation ecosystem is a bit abstract to someone not participating in online conversations).

And that’s really the rub, isn’t it? Getting companies immersed in “classic” models to take the time to understand the new models and find value,potential, and connection.

Forrester Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang says the Fabric becomes stronger as the Threads connect.

If you’re in the tech industry, and in marketing, you should be paying attention to what’s happening on twitter.

Jeremiah also brings up the “what you had for lunch” argument that is often the first response to the value of tools like Twitter. (And by the way, Twitter is just one tool - my point stands for many others as well.) I simply reject this argument now, as there are some great tools to help reduce the noise and focus on conversations that are applicable.

Forrester’s Peter Kim has published a report on Twitter (registration required) that speaks to the current demographics of Twitter users, and their reactions to branding, advertising, as well as a short list of companies like Dell, JetBlue and Carnival Cruise Lines and how they are using the tool as part of their online strategy.

Six percent of online US adults use Twitter at least monthly or more frequently. Twitter users are, on average, 78% male and 31 years old, and they draw an annual income of $78,000. In comparison, members of the online US population are, on average, 49% male and 43 years old, and they draw an annual income of $68,000.

Is your company using tools like Twitter as part of its online strategy?

(Photo credit ecstaticist)

  • yes car insurance

    It is true that no one tool is going to make you or break you but there are tools out there that make a big difference in whether you are successful or not.

  • 1st page killer earnings

    Thanks for this information.It is very helpful for me.

  • Craig Murphy

    Good post - I've recently pushed the use of micro-blogging tools, Twitter being the obvious vehicle, internally as part of a means of encouraging communication within a geographically dispersed team in three different timezones. We're 5 days in with the experiment, so far it has all been positive. Tool support and integration have been key in adoption - Outlook integration has promoted uptake and use.

  • Bob Jacobson

    Perhaps I didn't fully grok Twitter, but its self-selected audience -- those who want to share with others the minutiae of their daily experiences -- made Twitter less than desirable for me. An analogue is Spock, which is loaded with people who want to consolidate and then advertise all of their web activities. More power to those who are into total transparency, but to tell the truth, I'm not that interested in the Twitterers and I don't want my life to become a Truman Show. I like on-off situation awareness, not real-time immersion in others' worlds or them in mine. To each their own. I detached from Twitter and don't miss it greatly.

  • Donna Mugavero

    I'm fairly new to micro-blogging and I'm still learning how it can work best and discovering what it offers. The astonishing thing has been the call-for-ideas and the response that results. I've seen this be quite nimble and fresh with some pretty exciting moments.

    Today I had an idea that was probably tried before, although I'm not in the heart of new media development so I can't be sure. Twitter's linear real-time refresh is great, but I do wish I could additionally extrude select portions of the commentary to another part of my screen. I can see how I'd want this feature even more if I were trying to isolate a topic of discussion or, say, a grouping of ideas. I'd like a way to list them out. Or am I now moving away from the original Twitter mission?

    I do love this resource, though, and I'm going to incorporate it into my work and research where I can.

  • Srini Kumar

    My friend just came down from SF with a bunch of his friends for a visit. I had regarded the iPhone as a meaningless toy until I saw them using Twitter. The iPhone + Twitter is such a killer synergy it's ridiculous. So our startup is going to feed into that for SURE.

  • Jeff Standen

    We've always faced the uphill challenge, as developers, of convincing customers why *one more* discontinuous application on their desktop will make all the difference. With Twitter, our web apps can simply be their IM/SMS buddy. They don't need to install anything.

    That's one really interesting thing that people tend to overlook when they criticize Twitter as "emo-driven micro-blogging". You're choosing specifically who you want to listen to -- and that may be news outlets, politicians, authors, applications or random people you find interesting.

    I can assign quick tasks to my team by just twittering to @rtm (the "Remember the Milk" bot) with my Google Talk or cellphone, regardless of where I happen to be at the time.

    It's a permissive layer sitting on top of IM/SMS, without the 1000 contacts, feeds or applications it would take otherwise.

  • Ed Illig

    We've found Twitter to be an increasingly valuable tool in our marketing strategies.

    It not only functions as a hotbed for social media knowledge exchange, it’s also increased our impressions and extended our reach. Twitter is a great supplemental tool for rapid prototyping, testing and demonstrating social network marketing strategies for our clients.

    We recently used Twitter in an integrated online/offline holiday piece sent initially only to our clients. Twitter helped make the campaign extensible, including other constituent groups and the Twitter crowd itself.

    We've reestablished former business relationships and established new ones via Twitter, both online and offline. Twitter's sound bite parameters are far more powerful than one might think.

  • IAAdmin

    My company is just a start-up, and looking at various vehicles to "get the word out." Twitter is one avenue, I'm using. I don't advertise, per se, just comment on what's happening with me and giving suggestions based on my twitter name, I have had website hits from twitter, although, as far as I know, no new members.

    But, part of the fun is the learning curve, based on who you're following. Today was amazing.


  • boB Rudis

    Conversation ecosystem, anonymous instant messaging, micro-blogging, RSS/Atom-"lite", place to meet new folks...Twitter is all that and a great deal more.

    While it was interesting when it first came out and was primarily a web-tool, the API has made it loads more useful. Programs like Twitteriffic have made Twitter a permanent part of the day for folks. I get breaking news faster (CNN feed) can connect with the industry faster (Wrox is a great example), can publish and get blog post "pokes" instantly and then get a peek into the days of the folks whom I follow.

    I doubt the current incarnation of Twitter is what the creators imagined. I also see it converging (i.e. programs like Adium and Trillian adding an option for Twitter (or Jaiku) and having the potential for being used internally as well as on the internets (i.e. an "enterprise" Twitter where there are mandatory follows for execs, mgrs, teams, etc but then the ability to follow the streams of other employees with a gateway to the public twitter). I know I'd like to be able to "shout out" questions to an internal twitter to see if folks have quick answers (imagine getting a real response out of finance for a change!). Yes, there is rudimentary IM integration now, but it can be much, much better.

    I've also suggested the ability for sites like to make Twitter notification an option (the excellent "feeds" from SimpleWeather on twitter are also an example).

    For the next iteration of Twitter, imagine having the ability to follow "all folks who have 'OS X' in their profile" or "include public tweets with 'xyz' in them on my stream".

    (Kinda all over the place here...apologies...on a con-call at the same time)

    To answer your question, tho, my company (and my just former one) is not using it and will prbly not. Any company that wants to connect with folks really should consider it (and not for least not solely). Until I sub'd to the CNN stream, I never used to go to CNN's site, but they provide a valuable and informative Twitter service.

    At the moment, it has supplanted RSS feeds in terms of review priority. I now review Twitter first, then Google Reader then e-mail (or IM, depending on who the IM is from). Three years ago, it was E-mail, individual web sites, IM... amazing how thing can change so rapidly.

  • Cyril Hanquez

    Twitter is a really great tool to be informed on any subject of personal interest : most of the time it's faster than anything else and information come from reliable sources. It's important especially when you are part of a community - of developers for example :-) It helps you also to better know (in a more personal way) people around you - if you care.

    This last thing could be a cons for some people, but isn't it the purpose of a social network ? What i appreciate also is the fact that you don't know if people are online and/or are reading your posts, which is less intrusive compared to other IM platforms.

  • Marco Casario

    I think that there are some great benefits using Twitter, but there are also a lot of cons.
    For example, in my company Comtaste, we're using Twitter as a tool to keep updated with some of our client that we support in a remote basis. In this scenario I think Twitter is very useful respect to any IM platforms.
    Due to its push mechanism (using for example Spaz or other AIR Twitter apps) you can easily communicate your activities to a small (or large) group of your team just writing a simple message.
    The other side of the coin is that Twitter could be a tremendous tool for wasting your time when it's used by people as a massive content delivery platform.

    Anyway I'm a geek and I can't live without my blog, my facebook account, my linkedin, and Twitter :)

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