Thursday, March 26, 2009

Twitter: Technology At Light Speed

Twitter has been around about as long as the jar of pickles in my fridge yet, in its short existence, Twitter has evolved into an industry with widgets, gadgets and plugins so the whole world now knows what I had for breakfast.

However, Twitter – described as “IM on steroids” – is a perfect example of how new technology remains a growth industry, web-wise.

Twitter Evolves

When the service first hit the web, people posted inane stuff. “I’m at the airport.” “I just finished a three 3 bartinni lush.” “Barack rocks.” Who cares? But, in very short order Tweets figured out various ways to use Twitter to drive traffic to sites, blogs, webinars and every other destination a Tweet can reach.

There’s actually a lot of good stuff posted in those 140 character blocks and each day, Twitter users are finding new uses for this potent outlet. I use it to flog my blogs, announce posts to SEOmoz (are you listening, Rebecca?) and other posts to content syndication sites. offers a service that automatically posts accepted submissions – a little side benefit for the author and, of course, for ezine’s Chris Knight, a voracious Tweet. Knight uses Twitter to drive new submissions and, as such, he’s one of the most popular Tweets.

And now, introducing Twitter Spam. Spitter? It needs a name. Any way, companies are now collecting Tweets like baseball cards. Some businesses have 10,000+ Tweets – direct links to an audience made up of potential buyers who signed up to “Follow” XYZ Plumbing” and its daily specials.

And all of this has happened in a matter of 24 months.

The Twitter Industry

If you Google Twitter gadgets you’ll get a couple hundred thousand hits. You’ll also develop a long list of Twitter-related sites that offer Twitter-related services – including Twitter metrics.

Twitseeker provides a lot of data on individual tweets – your 140-character posts including your name and a link to your site or blog, an –ever expanding category cloud and a simple click to link function that enables you to follow Tweets with similar interests.

Twitterholic parses stats as you grow in popularity among other Tweets. Today, CNN ranks #1 among Twitterers followed by Barack Obama. (Don’t bother sending a direct message to the President. He hasn’t answered one of the 3,287 I’ve sent him, though I did get a visit from some nice Secret Service folks.)

Tweetstat does a couple of things. First, it takes Twitter mobile for Twitter junkies who can’t go10 minutes without checking in. The site also provides simple metrics associated with your tweeting activity and those whom you’ve opted to follow. BTW, avoid the collectors – the Tweets who send out automated connects (yes, that’s now part of the Twitter culture) followed by an automated “thank you and let’s hook up” return Tweet (RT). I’ve had to block a number of Tweets I chose to follow because my Twitter page was crammed with Twitter Spam.

One of the most cleaver, Twitter-based sub-services is Twibes. It’s like “American Idol” for Twitter users. It’s also a big, gigantic chain letter. Here’s the deal.

A follower selects you and nine other Tweets as his or her favorites. You’re promptly notified “I chose you as my favorite” by email. The email also encourages you to “return the favor” by nominating your friend. However, to do so, you have to nominate 10 total Tweets who, in turn, receive the email and on and on and on. Great marketing and another way to call attention to yourself. Twibes even hawks a book for $5 called “Twitter Trick: How To Get More Followers.”

Finally, to keep all this connectivity organized, check out Tweetdeck. This software displays all posts from those you follow, direct messages and @ replies – public messages directed specifically to you.

It also shrinks URLs down to size, saving a few characters for text.

Twitter is bound to grow in impact in the hours ahead. There are Tweet blogs where you’ll discover “tweet secrets,” and more and better uses will be found for this tool.

If you don’t already, consider Twitter. Maybe you can figure out how to make more of what’s already sprouting up around this communications technology growing at light speed.

No comments: