Twitter: Micro-Thinking?

I remember Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter, addressing the Web 2.0 Summit 2007 on the value of simplicity in site design and use. Williams quoted with approval from Tantek Celik: “the cognitive load of an individual is related to the number of clicks.” That’s Twitter—140 characters of simplicity.

But when is simple too close to simplistic? To people who don’t see value in Twitter, they could liken this vehicle for micro-blogging to a form of micro-thinking. In other words, is it a stream of mindless drivel that is cataloguing incremental, and in hindsight, worthless information?

A first clue that this is likely not the case is when you discover the all the hi-tech leaders of Silicon Valley are on Twitter. In fact, Twitter has been quickly integrated into conferences as a means of interacting with speakers. At Web 2.0 Summits the Tweats are posted on the screen and the speaker responds instantaneously.

As with any technology, however, it is important to understand what it is good for. Twitter is not intended to be a medium for complex thought. By contrast, it is designed as a medium for more frequent interaction and to allow people to follow one another.

At MakeGood we had discovered a range of worthwhile uses for Twitter (@make_good). Here are some of the practical ways to use Twitter.

  1. Brand Management – Twitter is a conversation you can’t afford to ignore. As The Clue Train Manifesto noted, the conversation is going on—it is just a question of whether you want to be part of it.
  2. User-Friendly – Having your brand (personal or corporate) on Twitter enables you to connect with people who are using it and to do so in a casual and efficient medium.
  3. Instant Response Time – By monitoring Twitter search, you are able to react and notice customer complaints or praise instantly, allowing precious time to react accordingly. More people will give input via a 140-character format than a 1-page customer feedback form.
  4. Efficient Group Share – You can engage with your audience on topics you are knowledgeable about in a public, searchable medium MakeGood does that with social responsibility.
  5. New information sources- Using Twitter search and by monitoring your feed you are able to increase your information flow. We have found many great sources through Twitter referrals.
  6. One More Circle – Twitter is still considered to be on the cutting edge (although it is rapidly approaching mainstream) and you can reach an audience who communicate through social media
  7. Driving traffic- After building an audience and community you can drive traffic to specific areas and alert your followers of updates or new announcements. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites or the sites of friends.
  8. Create Real-Life Connections – It is easy to arrange meet-ups. Twitter can help you organize impromptu meet-ups. For example, you can twitter a message while at a cafe, event or art gallery and arrange to meet fellow users at a specific spot. It’s an informal and casual way of arranging a meeting.
  9. Customer Communication. Set up a Twitter feed (via mobile or RSS) for the specific purpose of letting customers when new products come in or when there is news related to your company.
  10. Business Development. Twitter can be used as a means to find potential customers or clients online. You can search for keywords related to your product on Twitter Search and then follow users.

Every new communications technology faced the hurdle of people thinking it would be used for non-productive purposes. The telephone was first a novelty. The computer was only for a few large businesses. The web was firstly on the fringe. So, it will be with Twitter.