I hate being wrong, but on this subject I was. And I apologize to Alan Howard in Australia, who suggested to me that Twitter could be a good marketing tool. I disagreed.
I was a total sceptic. And in some ways, I still am. Twitter, I argued, was a security risk, people telling others where they were so burglars could do over their homes. That 140 characters was stupid because whenever I wrote, I would need more (never mind that Twitter, often, cannot count). Not being part of the cellphone generation and still refusing to use these gadgets regularly, I am unaccustomed to writing brief messages in SMS style.
In those respects, I still dislike Twitter. I signed up for it in 2006 and never touched it regularly till 2008. However, I do see the value of it, though in a slightly different fashion to what Alan suggested.
I plugged in my blog posts via Twitterfeed (at Simon Young’s suggestion) so the headlines would be rebroadcast as Tweets. That meant I did not have to spend any real time on Twitter. It would keep me in charge of the technology, not the other way around.
The worth of Twitter is not so much this communicating, but the following. I initially followed only my friends, building a small community on the service. In that respect, Twitter reminded me of the early days of the internet, which I often lament as having passed. Look on the blogosphere or at some comments on YouTube, and you’ll realize how inane part of the internet community has become. It’s a reﬂection of the real world, with all its stupidity—whereas once upon a time, the internet was a reﬂection of a select group, prepared to be polite in the quest of uniting the planet. Or at least among the circles I moved in.
It became an alternative means to reach some friends, people who already understood where I came from.
While I still rely on Twitterfeed, I have found some worth to substituting my Facebook time with Twitter, using the 140 characters to update my Facebook status (especially after my gripe with that website). And for some reason, this is attracting attention.
I stand by my other belief that people will ﬂock to brands they trust online, rather than the social networks, because they only have so much mindspace—and Facebook fatigue, even Twitter fatigue, will set in. They will want the internet to be an entertainment and research tool.
But for now, Tweeting is marketing, in that it draws and communicates to an audience, whether it is fed through another service or whether one spends a few moments a day writing a few 140-character messages. People come to you because they either know you or they ﬁnd an afﬁnity with what you write. It’s by no means as in-depth as getting to know someone over numerous blog posts, but in this glance-and-skim and surface world, where Milton Glaser’s I heart New York sign is in danger of becoming classical literature, it might sufﬁce at that very basic, introductory level—akin to a digital means of handing out your business card at a function.
If you like, then please feel free to follow me on Twitter. It won’t be an introduction to those of you who are regular readers. But somehow, those updates might make some sense. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:57
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