Morning folks…hopefully you all are keeping warm. Seems like the whole continent needs an electric blanket right now! But, being inside while the weather reads ungodly negative numbers has allowed me to continue to play with my new online fascination – Twitter. Many I have talked to (physically) usually look at me funny when I say the word Twitter, but that response will disappear very soon in my opinion (do you remember the last person who asked what Facebook was???).
What is Twitter (I still ask myself that question!) you ask? Well, it’s a great little community at twitter.com – like any other site, you need to register (name, email) and then you are officially on Twitter. However, it’s much more minimalistic than many other social communities you’ve been to. There are tonnes of great articles/sites/howto’s/videos out there, but usually I put it this way – it’s like communicating with the world through your facebook status. Nice, short, sweet and to the point. Now, the ruse….why?
Reading through the tweets on my screen, and visiting many sites, the reason why people tweet seems to be very personal and diverse. Some like to create a large network of followers. Others market their wares (whether it be a product, service, blog or website), and others are there just to be part of a larger community and learn/mentor/discuss. Why Do I Tweet? Well, let’s answer that…
1) Oooooooh – Shiny!
Yep, Twitter is the big thing people seem to be talking about on the Internet these days. Just as when Facebook broke out, there seems to be a tonne of new users joining the latest trend, and that’s ok! I am one of them. I love to try and keep up to date with as many as new communities, applications and developments on the net. Twitter is one of them. Like many others I know, I signed up over a year ago, wrote a couple of tweets (the page is quite simple – you have a form up top, with a simple question to answer … “What Are You Doing?”) and then it sat there, as i really hadn’t been able to figure out what to do with it. Then in November, I used it to pass along info about the Dreamforce keynotes to friends back in Ottawa (meeting a couple of people via Twitter along the way), and I’ve continued to play with since. And the big reason why is Twitter still excites me like a shiny playtoy. Something new always strikes me about it, and I am back messing around in it. Also helping is applications for Twitter on both my iPhone and on my desktop (right now, I like Tweetie on the iPhone and TweetDeck on the laptop). After over a year of daily facebook time, Twitter is taking over as my community du jour….
2) Hello World…
It sounds like a marketing schtick, but it’s true. We live in a global community know, no longer divided by land and sea. Looking at my followers and followees list (this is the equivilant of friends in Twitter – you can follow people you think are interesting, and other people can follow you), I am surprised to see how geographically diverse the group is. I’ve met and chatted with people from Hawaii, Dallas, New York City (I really need to take Steph one of these years), South America, New Zealand, England, Japan, Russia, Norway…I could likely name more places but I think you get my point. And these just aren’t online friends anymore. One of the first people I followed was a Tweeter named geekycyberdad (real name – Shawn). While getting ready for Dreamforce 08, I had begun searching Twitter for Dreamforce chatter, and stumbled upon his name. We followed each other, and slowly got to know each other through our updates. Since then, we have become Internet friends, joking back and forth about sports, politics, and temperatures (I’m sorry, Shawn, but you really should let me go to Miami for you!). Shawn is one example I have…there are many others. Without twitter I would not have been able to meet (and keep up with) some absolutely fabulous people.
3) This Just In…
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Flight 1549 by now…it’s been all over the net. Well, a neat thing happened while I worked yesterday (while it happened). I use TweetDeck (an Air app that you can use to chat and view Twitter), and all of a sudden, the updates started to come fast and furious. Quickly looking, I see that many I follow are talking about the plane that is floating in the Hudson. This all within 5 minutes of the plane landing in the water! No CNN or MSNBC coverage yet, just Twitter. A couple of minutes later, I knew the flight number, where it was going, what happened, where in the Hudson it was, and had access to pictures of the rescue effort. Later in the evening, Steph and I were discussing what Twitter had done with this event. What we concluded was that Twitter (and other communities like it) are now the news breakers for our generation, while the TV stations of the world have become like newspapers of old – it may be a little slower, but they put together a nice little informative package for you (well….most times…). Not a new concept, but it is so much fun to see in real life!
4. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding
Like most people in the world, I love to help when I can. And what better place to do it then when I am speaking with the world (or at least the subset that knows me so far…). If you didn’t know from the sidebar, I run a Salesforce.com consulting firm here in Ottawa. I’d also like to think that we here know a little bit about Salesforce.com as well (although on certain days before coffee kicks in I may disagree) and as such, I will ping people who tweet out with a “Yelp! My salesforce…” message. Done this a few times, and had three people ping me back. Two took ten minutes, and another one 30 minutes. And with that, a good deed for the day was done. No bills, no charge, no requirement whatsoever (I do love a thank you though, and gotten it three times!). I love what I do, and make good money doing it already. If i can help others who happen to be in a bind, then I have had a good day.
Other ways people help is by forwarding URLs to new stories or information portals, many of which I would miss (I love to surf, but not that much! ). The stories that I find extremely interesting and teach me something I retweet (think of pressing the forward button on the email client, and that is retweet!). I don’t have the ability to read all of them, but what an amazing way to help, just by sharing.
How far can this help go? Many many stories and assistance has come through the net – David Armano spearheded a touching call for help just after Christmas to help a family in need, and what was done made me happy to be human.
So, there you go…why I tweet. It’s new and interesting, it’s global, it’s real time and it is caring. For those on twitter and don’t follow me, there’s a link to the right – would love to see you on there. And for those not yet on, why not give it a try?