Microblogging: What Is It Good For?

    October 30, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The microblogging concept isn’t one that settles neatly among a myriad of more intuitive platforms. Regardless, microblogging platforms like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and PlaceShout are gaining steam in the social media realm with or without you.

Microblogging: What Is It Good For?
Microblogging: What Is It Good For?

Lynnette Young If you know and/or follow Lynnette Young, a.k.a. LynetteRadio on Twitter, you would be interested in knowing that she’s on the brink of labor, very near to producing a Halloween baby. You’d also be aware that her husband is in New York sans cell phone.

What use is that to the business-minded? At this point, not much. Later, though, as media converges – especially social media – one might imagine contextual advertising for diapers and baby wipes appearing next to the appropriate tweets. (The 140 character or less posts are called "tweets" on Twitter.)

Perhaps that’s what Google plans to do with recently acquired Jaiku, a platform similar to Twitter. Perhaps that’s where all this is headed as the bubble gets bigger: large companies swallow up social media, interlink them, and monetize them under one umbrella, carefully targeted by demographic.

Until then, we’re left with fragmentation teetering on frustration. With so much social media out there, how does one have time to utilize it properly? Well, just like you pick your battles, you’re going to have to pick your social network.

Twitter Twitter, for example, is stuffed with early adopters, thought leaders, and technophiles. If this your target market, then it’s a good idea to be there Twittering too. Verizon’s John Czwartacki takes his company’s message to the lion’s den. In a crowd most likely to be pro-Net Neutrality, Czwartacki hasn’t missed the opportunity to present the positive aspects of his company to industry critics/bloggers.

So, microblogging is a useful public relations vehicle, or a place to be careful with your words as one PR pro found out recently. You connect with influencers, and have the opportunity to connect with the network of people they follow, but you also can keep tabs on projects – people love to talk about their projects.

Dave Winer Dave Winer, the self-titled original blogger and inventor of RSS recently Twittered (or tweeted?) about his New York Times "River" project, which allows readers to order their news to suit their preferences, rather than, as is tradition, allowing the editors to prioritize news.

It’s a two-way street. Winer keeps his "followers" abreast about what might be the next great platform, and if his followers ever get tired of him, they can simply un-follow him. That makes it an excellent vehicle for permission-based marketing – choosing not to follow someone is a built-in user-controlled spam filter.

Bloggers use microblogging as a supplement to their main blog by posting a short description of their latest blog post and a link. How long do you think it will be until the search engines begin crawling for that type of information?

But the real future blockbusters, I think, will be the microblogging platforms that are more tightly targeted and present more intuitively useful variations on the originals. It’s not hard to see how PlaceShout, for example, has an intrinsic value. It works like Twitter, but its goal is consumer reviews. Users have 100 characters to jazz or razz a place of business, and the reviews are overlaid on Google Maps.

The weakness right now, though, is fragmentation and saturation. Though options are good, too many choices produce social-media overload. You would have to hire at least one full time person to maintain your presences on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, the blogosphere, the forums, the search results – the list just keeps getting bigger.

One day, I can imagine Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft offering full search/social/traditional media advertising packages that pull all of these things under one roof – a managed campaign offering. And they’ll probably be expensive. Until then, choose your media carefully, and use it to its full potential.