I admit it took me a long time to warm up to Twitter. I could not see why anyone was interested in what I was doing right now. I still struggle with the voyeuristic aspects of Twitter but a couple of new applications are helping me overcome my reluctance to using it.
For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about Twitter is a social network that lets you tell your friends what you are doing at any given time. It also lets you see what everyone else is up to. It’s a kind of worldwide bulletin board of tiny messages that form a huge mosaic of everyday activity.
My earlier reluctance to use Twitter was based on three things. Why would anyone care what I was doing, how do you track and monitor what other people are saying and how could a business use this. Some applications and experimentation have at least given me a better understanding of how Twitter can be useful from social media marketing perspective.
One of the usability issues I had with Twitter was how to monitor the ongoing conversations without having to keep logging into twitter. You can do this via your SMS on your phone but that could get really expensive as the number of your friends (followers in Tweet Speak) increases.
Then I heard about Twhirl . Twhirl is a desktop client for Twitter similar to IM that allows you to post short 140-character updates about what you are doing, as well as following your twitter friends and read all their updates, replies anyone sends to you, and direct messages to your account. You can also answer to another user by replying or sending him/her a private direct message. It is free and works on both the MAC and PC.
Then I heard about EasyTweets. EasyTweets is a new web-based tool that reminds me a bit of a traditional blogging platform, but is designed to manage your Twitter accounts. What I like about EasyTweets is that you can manage multiple Twitter accounts in one place, you can Schedule Tweets whenever you want and you can RSS feeds and have them auto posted to your Twitter account. This last feature is great because not everyone why followers you on Twitter will read your blog. With EasyTweets all your followers are automatically notified that you have updated your blog.
So how can a company or brand use Twitter? Well Twitter has this search function called Twitter Search that allows you to see what people are saying about your company or brand in real-time.
“In the past, companies would hire a market research firm to understand their audience,” says Mike Hudack, CEO of Blip.tv, a New York-based video website in a recent USA Today interview. “Now we use Twitter to get the fastest, most honest research any company ever heard — the good, bad and ugly — and it doesn’t cost a cent.”
More and more companies like Zappos, Whole Foods and Comcast are using Twitter as a way to communicate with customers. Frank Eliason, a customer service manager for Comcast, spends his day communicating with Twitterers about the company — hoping to resolve issues. Comcast isn’t on Twitter to turn around the firm’s customer service perception issues but simply to “build better relationships with our customers,” he says.
Whole Foods, which started using Twitter in June, just wants to hear what people are saying about the company. “It’s amazing how many people say, ‘I’m off to Whole Foods for lunch,’ ” says Slayton Carter, Whole Foods’ online community development coordinator.
Zappos tested a new site, zeta.zappos.com, recently on Twitter, “and we were able to make some improvements based on the comments,” says Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
Twitter has a lot more potential than I thought six months ago and I only see the service growing as more applications are built for it. If you are interested in following me on twitter you can follow me her.