Everyone knows what Twitter is, though relatively few are actively engaged with it. Like everybody else, I signed up to give it a shot. And then more or less gave up on it in short order when I couldn’t totally get it to work . Or, rather, I didn’t really get it. Seemed to me, you’re labbing (sp?) out status updates, links and random thoughts into the ether alongside other “followers” who are doing the same. Why bother? It felt like parallel play.
Then one night I heard a helicopter hovering loudly over my West Village apartment building. Channeling Boyz in the Hood, I had visions of an assailant jumping from the fire escape into Apartment 43. In search of immediate information, I went to the Internet to Google it. If someone’s gonna ambush me in my bed with a Tech-9, well at least I can prepare myself. A Twitter search showed up at the top. A few people in my immediate environs were talking about what was occurring (some sort of official NYPD drill). Just by satisfying my desire for validating information, it put my mind at ease.
Over the next few weeks I started to look at the “Trending Topics” to see what the fuss was all about. I was interested to find that 6 or 7 of the top topics during primetime are related to network TV shows. Made me realize how people are using the tool. Yes, it is very sporadic and ADD, but it’s neat to be able to chat with people as you watch. All the research says people want community and interactivity when it comes to watching TV. Twitter gives them that.
Now, the effectiveness of the tool depends on how you set yourself up to participate. When I was just using the web-based tool I could not understand how all the features worked …
But once I used TweetDeck I was able to appreciate what I had at my fingertips. It reminded me of an the old newswire interfaces they had at CBS News and The Wall Street Journal when I worked there as a young lackey. Stories come across and the editors decided which ones to read and possibly use. That’s what you’re more or less doing with Twitter — getting a wire service from individuals. The beauty of it is, you get to choose all the feeds yourself. Oh, and it’s free!
In the past two days, I have been Twittering up a storm. My goal is to showcase interesting content and ideas as well with as bit of personal trivia sprinkled in. Sorta like colsblog, but mini and able to reach new crowds who are thinking and talking about similar things at the same time. I read this morning that they are redoing the homepage to make Twitter more accessible and useful to general users. That’s a great idea. I am a fairly sophisticated user so if I am having troubs, the UI def. needs more work!
As for how to monetize Twitter … that is not at the front of my brain at the mo. There are many possibilities, and most of them shall contribute to the continued deterioration of the newspaper and magazine businesses. But I won’t get into that now. Rather, I will take the blonde girl fallback:
“I don’t want to make money, i just want to be wonderful.” – Marilyn Monroe
Tweet that, dear readers!