So its been 3 weeks since I set up my twitter account. I checked out twitter this past spring, but elected to remain only a spectator. (there’s a technographic buzzword for you. check out more on the “technographic ladder” here http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/ladder.html) Well, after three weeks I’ve made a few observations on the possibilities, limitations, and overall usefulness of Twitter

POSSIBILITIES

Without a doubt, Twitter is happening, whether you are on board or not. Mini-blogging, what probably should have been a short-lived Internet trend has proven it is here to stay. So what can you use twitter for, since other people are using it.

  1. Personal Blogging – One of Facebook’s most commonly used features is the status update, and twitter is effectively a site devoted to status updates.  People use their cell phones to comment on everything from traffic to sporting events to writing reviews of movies – while they are still in the theatre! If you feel like you can summarize whatever is on your mind at the moment in 140 words, than twitter is for you.
  2. Crowd Sourcing – Perhaps my favorite use of twitter is the potential for Crowd Sourcing. if you have a group of your peers in your industry, whether it be astro-physics or Communications, you can use twitter to quickly ask a question to your entire social network. As twitter is designed to allow for easy response and conversations via mini-blogs, it is possible to get nearly instantaneous feedback from experts in a lot of fields.
  3. Customer Assistance – Several companies, including Comcast, Verizon and Southwest Airlines are currently using twitter to provide quick, and comprehensive customer service. This could be the future of customer service

LIMITATIONS

There are two gigantic flaws that I see with twitter in its current form, and they are both enough to make me consider not using it all together.

  1. Quantity – There are A LOT of tweets at any given time. If you have 20 very active friends, you would have to spend atleast 1/2 an hour a day to keep up with everyone’s posts. If you are following several hundred tweeters, sifting through the masses would be a daunting task.  You often have to sort through a large volume of posts to find anything useful.
  2. Quality One of the most challenging steps in making twitter is useful is just finding people to follow. There are tens of thousands of tweeters out there, but a very small percent have anything to say that you, or anyone would care about. Browsing the everyone feed will show that only a handful of posts have anything thought provoking or even well thought out. If you can find a tweeter who is following reliable sources, then you may be able to find tweeters with similar interests. There should be some sort of community through twitter where you can find people who tend to tweet on certain subjects or browse channels where tweets of particular subject matters would be sent. I believe some of this is in development, but as is, finding useful tweets is a major limitation.

USEFULNESS

I believe that if you just want to causally mini-blog twitter is a viable option. In the coming months as Twitter expands its ability to sift through tweets its usefulness will certainly increase. As more buisnesses and organizations get involved, it will certainly become more effective. My personal advice for anyone who hasn’t yet gotten into twitter would be to join up, secure your username and play around with it for a while. Barring financial troubles, twitter will likely survive in some format for sometime. So, play around with it and get used to it, but I wouldn’t fully integrate it into your social networking life just yet.

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