1 : Twitter and the Micro-Messaging Revolution
Like a lot o people, I didn’t think much o Twitter at rst.I signed up to check it out, but didn’t nd much there orme. I wasn’t interested in hearing about where peoplewere having coee, what they had or dinner, or whothey were hanging out with. It seemed like a great appli-cation or people with too much time on their hands.But some months later I was back. Because Twitter letsanyone “ollow” any other user, rather than requesting aormal declaration o “riendship,” and because I’m a well-known person, one day I realized that I had about 5000people ollowing me on Twitter, waiting to hear rom me.Huh? I’d better give them something to ollow, I thought.So I started posting. But because I’m a serious guy,I tended to post links to what I was reading or writing,not what I was eating or drinking. And I noticed that lotso other people were doing that too. Beore long, I oundmysel using Twitter as my principal source o news,orgoing my RSS reader or the more varied and stimulat-ing ow that comes rom people sharing the very bestthings that they’ve read lately.And because I was using Twhirl, a Twitter client thathas an easy button or “retweeting”—that is, passing onthe best tweets rom someone you’re ollowing, I soonound that I had a great opportunity to bring attentionto insights rom people who had ewer ollowers thanI did. All those pieces I read that I couldn’t get around towriting a ull blog post about could be retweeted in aninstant. I’ve now got about 12,000 direct ollowers, butcalculations by some o the Twitter inuence measure-ment sites project that that means I have potential accessto millions o Twitter users, as others retweet my most rel-evant comments. What’s more, the network is still young.At the same time as I ound Twitter a great tool in myrole as an inormation switchboard or people who careabout new trends in technology, I also came to appreci-ate its original promise, as a tool or keeping in touchwith people’s ordinary lives. I learn rom my brother’stweets that my niece has a new boyriend, that his otherdaughter is home visiting rom college. I gain a new kindo ambient intimacy with members o my own amily. Andbeore long, I’m tweeting personal bits too. It’s been a longday, I’m relaxing and making raspberry jam. “How muchsugar do you use?” asks one ollower. “However muchyou like, i you use Pomona’s Universal Pectin,” I reply.And so, through the minutia o casual interaction, wesee the power o conversational marketing, as ordinarypeople share what they do and what they care about.And o course, rom there, I learn to post teasers aboutmy own company’s products. I share product announce-ments, ask or advice about what questions to ask panelistsI’m interviewing on stage at my conerences, condentthat I can reach thousands o my best customers witha tool so lightweight that it enables conversations thatI would never have been able to have otherwise.So, i you wonder whether Twitter matters or busi-ness, remember, i you will, when people new to cellphones used to call each other to report the most trivialdetails o where they were and what they were doing;remember how blogs at rst were thought o merely aspersonal diaries o no interest to anyone in business, andhow they grew up to become the heart o a new mediaparadigm. For that matter, remember how the personalcomputer was dismissed by the titans o the computerindustry as nothing but a toy. The uture oten comes to us in disguise, with toysthat grow up to spark a business revolution. Twitter is like that. Ignore it at your peril. It is alreadya powerul tool o competitive advantage or companieslike O’Reilly Media, Forrester Research, Comcast, andZappos. This report introduces Twitter, tells war storiesrom its early practitioners, outlines best practices and therapidly evolving landscape o third party applications andother tools that help you make use o the Twitter platorm.P.S. I’m @timoreilly on Twitter, just like I’m firstname.lastname@example.org on email. I your name and brand matters to you,there are advantages to getting on a platorm early.
By Tim O’Reilly