We updated this post from May 7, 2009 to make it more current for 2016.

I admit that at first I didn’t see the point in Twitter.  I could see how blogging was good for marketing, but micro blogging?  Twitter is a social network that allows you to post brief 140 character text messages to all your followers who are reading your “tweets”.  For the longest time, I’ve watched Twitter from the sidelines, still marveling that people care enough to read about other’s daily activities.  And then Oprah and Ashton Kutcher held a Twitter contest which caused Twitter to explode into a social phenomenon that I can no longer ignore.   Thus, I’ve decided to try my own Twitter Experiment…or Twitterment.

Now, lots of people are using Twitter, which according to Nielsen, was the fastest-growing member community this year, growing 1,382 percent in unique visitors from February 2008 to February 2009.  So how big is Twitter now in 2016? There are around 316 million users on Twitter, the number is growing more slowly than other social media sites. The question is, who are these users, and should you be addressing them in their weird “Tw-language” to grow your business?

An update on Twitter for 2016 is as follows: Twitter had a slowdown in user base growth; 2) a deceleration in top-line growth; 3) problems with the monetization of direct response ad products; and, 4) a host of management changes. As a result, the company’s stock has plummeted by over 35% year to date. While the new management under Jack Dorsey is making several efforts to reinvigorate growth, the impact of these measures remains to be seen. A number of product changes have lately been introduced, such as the Moments feature and a ‘like’ button, and the company continues to question the importance of a reverse chronological order in timelines. Notwithstanding various challenges, we think the market could currently be undervaluing Twitter. In the event user growth begins to accelerate on the micro-blogging platform, then it could lead to significant ncrease in the company’s stock price.

 

At this point, I’d have to say both yes and no based on what I’ve read (thus the experiment.)  Every business needs to assess the likelihood of Twitter helping, depending on what the business does. Twitter users provide a lot of information like product reviews, trends and advice, tips on doing things, and general insights.  If any of these things relate to your business, then maybe you should consider tweeting.  Anther great use of Twitter is to notify people about events and things that are happening at events, and to suggest that they go to your blog or social site for more information.

I’ve decided to give Twitter a shot, and I’ve begun by setting up my Twitter account, listening to what is being tweeted, and learning about the tool.  My goal is to get about 250 followers and see where this leads me.  I’m willing to devote an hour a day to this experiment, or maybe more if it looks like a lot of fun.  I’d love it if you want to try it with me!  Follow me on Twitter!  I’ll follow you.

Get started by signing up for a user account. You may want to check out this cool site full of useful Twitter tips and secrets (I signed up to follow it’s creator, Dan Hollings on Twitter too.) http://twittinsecrets.com/.  I also downloaded this useful tool called TweetDeck to organize the information as it streams in.
http://www.tweetdeck.com

Other popular tools I’m going to try include:

1) Twhirl.org: This tool helps you see and organize what people have said. It uses adobe air technology and runs on your desktop, instead of going to a browser.

2) search.twitter.com/: This is the search tool for Twitter, and while some people use Tweetscan this one can track conversations to see who’s talking about you, your brand, or a topic you’re interested in.   Another tool for staying informed about your niche in Twitter is www.tweetscan.com where you can add up to 5 phrases and receive emails whenever someone tweets about these phrases.

3) Friendfeed.com: allows you to search for friends and puts all of our RSS content onto one page, making it easy to see from one glance (rather than going to different social sites) and you can even reply from friendfeed to different tools.

4) Twitterlocal.com: This tool helps you to see tweets about a particular area,  based upon a users profile location. If you’ve a local business, this could become useful.

5) Google Alerts: If people blog about Twitter conversations I setup Google Alerts for the phrase @painternet, to see if it appears on blogs each week.

6) Integrate YouTube video with twitter and facebook.  I read this email from Google recently “YouTube RealTime – Recently we unveiled YouTube RealTime, a new way to discover what your friends are doing on YouTube. …There are also sharing options (e.g., posting to Twitter or Facebook). Right now, you must
have an invitation to try it out, but I’ve signed up.
http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=RUbB7ZLNsyU  “

As with other social networks, several applications are available for mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry.

It seems that every day new Twitter tools are available.  With this many users, Twitter can no longer be ignored by companies, and I expect that soon there will be a tool which enables Twittering companies to hold one-to-many conversations with their target audiences. In the meantime I know that some companies pay people to tweet about everything happening within their companies, based on information from their email servers, calendars, and blog postings.   This creates a story about the company, something that enables the company to become more personal to its clients.

Remember that Twitter is not useful for a hard sell.  Use it to inform.   Make people feel involved in your story and they will be much more likely to buy.  What should you tweet about?  Pick things to talk about that will interest people, like resources you’ve used or want to try, messages which show how to use tool or support a project, compliments to others, ask questions, answer questions, and post links.

I’ve also read that it is useful to have two twitter accounts, one which you use to follow brilliant people, and one which you use to communicate to others with.  My second Twitter account is [email protected] which I will use to comment on all the number 1 rankings we get our clients, their news stories, their successes and our efforts in helping them succeed.  Until I have some hard evidence from my experiment, I hope to see and hear from you on Twitter where I will be listening and learning.

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