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Putting Twitter into Perspective

It probably is as big a deal as it's looking like

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Brett Tabke was among the speakers on the ‘Mega Panel’ at SMX Advanced this year. This session essentially consists of a panel of established industry experts fielding questions from the crowd of conference attendees. It never takes long in these type of sessions to get a feel for what’s on everybody’s mind. This year, to the surprise of exactly no one, it was all things social media and Twitter that dominating the Q & A.

I caught Brett Tabke, founder of WebmasterWorld, shortly after the session to get his take on some of the high points of the discussion. It looks like this social media thing is doing nothing but growing and it’s impact is being felt across the board in ways most of us never imagined.

Realtime Search:
Realtime search is one of the biggest concepts to talk about in terms of social media. Brett brought up the example of the French airliner that crashed in South America recently. Information about the incident was available instantly through Twitter.

Realtime SearchMore significantly, this information wasn’t simply in the form of Tweets about the crash, there was new content being created and linked to in Tweets. This new content, created on the fly and accessed in real time, wasn’t available through Google, Bing or Yahoo yet, but it was in Twitter.

The concept of content discovery in realtime hasn’t really been done (at least not very well) to this point. This is why you’ve been reading weekly rumors of this company or that company being interested in purchasing Twitter.

Marketing:
Social media marketing is entering a whole new level. Business interest in social media started out a lot like business interest started in blogs. When blogs were first coming into vogue, businesses were, for the most part, looking at blogging from a public relations/reputation management standpoint. Of course, as blogs became more and more prevalent businesses increasingly incorporated them into their marketing mix.

The same thing is happening with social media, just a little faster. Take a look at BestBuy and their ‘Twelpforce’ Twitter strategy. They have over 500 people signed up, scouring Twitter looking for folks with questions about plasma TVs and various gadgets.

Social media, particularly Twitter, is moving more and more out of the realm of the ‘optional’ for business. Managing your identity in social media is becoming just as important, if not more, than managing your .com domain. GoDaddy is even going ahead and registering your Twitter accounts along with your domains now.

Just like with your domains, if you aren’t ‘you’ then somebody else is apt to become ‘you’. Twitter registration has evolved to the point that account creation there is just another step in responsible brand management.

Evolution of Twitter:
TwitterNow that Twitter has become too big to be ignored and (for many) too important not to use, what comes next? Just as with anything else new on the web, it hasn’t taken spammers long to get into the mix. Spammers have hit Twitter like 7 year locusts. Anyone who has been using the service of a significant amount of time can tell you that the peddlers of porn, mortgage ‘deals’ and pharmaceuticals have arrived en force.

Twitter by nature is completely opt-in so you would think that the spammers would have a hard time with getting much done. Fortunately for the spammers however people are, by nature, just greedy.
The currency of Twitter is (for the most part) your follower count. Whether it’s to increase the effectiveness and reach of your tweets or just to stroke the ego, for many, the Twitter game is largely about growing the follower number.

This has given rise to countless "add 500 followers per day" schemes and mechanisms in order to game the system. The rationale being, if you find somebody with 3000 followers, you are apt to think, "hey, this guy must have something cool to say". It’s logical enough but unfortunately not necessarily the case.

So, how can you tell if somebody is worth following? That’s a question a lot of people are asking. What is authority? How can you tell if someone is an authority? How do you know the person you are following is even who they claim to be?

Twitter has started verifying accounts for some of the A list set. Celebrities are finding their way onto Twitter in increasing numbers. Prompted in large part by a lawsuit filed by Tony LaRussa, Twitter has started a program of verifying the accounts of celebrities. It’s a step in the right direction which will likely make it’s way from celebrities to businesses soon enough but it’s really just a start. TwellowWhat if you want to find twitter people to follow within niche industries, or within your local area? 

Finding people to follow is easy enough. We have Twellow and Twellowhood (shameless plug alert) just in the way of examples of sites you can use to find interesting people. How do you tell who is worth following though once you’ve found them?

Brett and I talked about this a bit in the interview. We are starting to see some sites and services pop up to ‘grade’ Twitterers in an attempt to assign some sort of authority or rank to accounts.  Sound familiar? It should. This is essentially what search engines have spent years trying to figure out for websites.

Personally, I think there is something a little unsettling about the concept of having rank or some arbitrary authority assigned to Twitter accounts, but I suppose it’s probably inevitable to some extent. You can check Klout.net for an example of such a service. Here you will find an algorithmic number value assigned to Twitter accounts.  The ingredients and factors of the algo are (of course) secretive and mysterious, but we’re all used to that by now aren’t we?

So in some regards, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. There’s still a lot of ground to cover with this whole social/Twitter thing.  Remember search? How many search engines did we go through before we got Google? How many Google-killers have come and gone since then?

Social Media is still an area very much in it’s development. There will no doubt be plenty of twists and turns as we move along. However, there is one thing you can absolutely take to the bank: if aren’t in it, you need to get there. For better or worse, "wait and see" strategists have no place in this world.

Putting Twitter into Perspective
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  • http://autom.x.iabc.com autom

    probably not..at least as long as there is meaningful knowledge exchange and productive social engagement that goes beyond the admittedly all-too-common self-affirmation tendencies that the social media environment tends to inadvertently foster

  • http://www.Twitter.com/SusanGrisanti Susan Grisanti

    Here’s the way it works for me~
    Whenever I do Anything New on the web,
    like post new videos or relevant information
    about my business, I Always send out a Tweet
    about it.
    This is turning out to be Fabulous cross marketing
    for me, as my Main Homepage has jumped from
    26 million rank on Alexa to less than 2 million
    rank in 6 months, Just because my Twitter pages
    (I have 3 Twitter accounts) are linking to my
    Homepage!! Long Live Twitter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    PS, I think the key here is posting relevant,
    interesting information, not stupid stuff like
    ‘my dog got a haircut today’ (unless of course you’re
    in the dog grooming business, in which case this
    Would be relevant information!)

    • Guest

      Really you have 3 pages. Are they all business related. I would love to see these pages. I have been inspired by your example. Thanks-Mireya Expressions Gift Co. Giving buys yoy happiness.

  • http://www.nathancheeley.com/ Nathan Cheeley

    I actually just made a post today about TwelpForce’s use of Twitter. You can find it here:

    http://www.nathancheeley.com/twelpforce-by-best-buy/

    Basically, unless there is a lot more to the back-end of Best Buy’s strategy with this, I’m afraid they’re just going to turn into one of those “annoying social media marketers” that nobody likes to see. :( I’ve been watching them dabble with social media since their inclusion of social buttons on their product pages, but am really nervous for them about this one.

    That’s also interesting about GoDaddy registering a Twitter with your domain name, I didn’t know that! Very forward thinking. Good stuff. :)

  • http://threads.ecrater.com Threads Vintage Woodstock Revival Wear

    It’s funny… you see so many personality types on twitter… you have everyone from the “my dog got a haircut today” people to the people who use it for business to the people who seem to live in twitterland… sometimes it’s fun just to “people watch”… you just never know what some people will say next… lol :D

    Ranking? It would be interesting to see what information and/or criteria they would use for this…. lol :D

  • http://www.sidtech.biz Social Media Evangelist

    like every good thing, twitter too has got its share of spammers…as Mike pointed out, entirely due to the human nature called greed! My twitter account is folowed by a few close friends only still, on an average I get about 10 new followers. The funny part is they have NOTHING to do with my business!! 80% are work from home and earn more than even Ambani is making and the rest 10% comprises of a few newbies, eager to get followers-hence following type of users! 10%- even I dont know why they follow me!

    I believe if we users can be a little more prudent is following people, spammers will be less inclined to follow us. After all, if you engage in a coversation with a cold tele-caller-even if you buy nothing-he will DEFINITELY call you again. Because you atleast listen…better than most of his clientele!

  • http://www.bdv-unix-skills.co.uk vincestev

    Twitter has had a very positive impact on the business, building brand awareness by offering free educational resources in Unix, Solaris, Perl and Java. Rgds Vince

    • http://www.oil-painting-online.com Kaia

      I want more details about this idea, can you tell me more?

  • http://borris-johnson.blogspot.com/ Guest

    I first began twittering 2years ago however now I find it now almost unusable due to spam.
    The spammers will only leave it alone once it either dies or Google takes over it – which as shown with myspace is one in the same.

  • http://twitter.com/optionzone Guest

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious (for anyone with a brain) regarding followers.

  • http://www.mastersoftrivia.com Trivia Quizzes

    Not to mention the fact that we were able to achieve a Google PR6 in less than 4 months for our main Twitter account! I guess content remains king and thousands of people from around the world will link to your Twitter profile page if you provide value.

  • http://www.heather.hotpinkflamingo.net Heather

    I don’t understand why there’s so much fuss over Twitter. Just seems like a fad to me. I think it’s pretty pointless. It’s just another medium for spammers. Why not just use a blog? You can write more than a few sentences…… I see no need to “follow” anyone on Twitter. Most businesses, celebrities, news sites, etc. have regular web sites with RSS feeds. Just about everyone has a blog-RSS feeds again……….

    • http://www.virginiastateparks.gov Virginia State Parks

      Social media is all about relating with your customers and potential customers. Yes we have a website and we have a blog but we would be missing large groups of people that like to relate via Facebook and Twitter is we weren’t there too. We even have a My Space page. And we have a weekly enews letter for folks who have signed up. We cross post all of the info on those sites. It’s all about reaching people and giving our customers a way to relate to us in an environment they prefer.

      • http://brochin.net Joe

        is fine, but when every post is some new offer and adds nothing to the social concept of the media, then it is a pain and you get unfollowed, at least by me.

    • http://incomeclubpro.ning.com Guest

      if you are interested in getting people visit your blog then twitter is a tool that can get you visitors – you can send your RSS to it so friends can go directly to your blogs while chatting on twitter.

      Turning away twitter is like turning away a nice cold glass of lemonade on a warm day, purely because water has always been good enough to quench your thirst, why try anything else ?

  • http://www.cheapoverseasproperty.co.uk Cheap Overseas Property

    I agree with other posters about spammers, it is getting pathetic now. To me it totally ruins the whole concept of twitter. Registered on Twellow yesturday which seems to be a lot more profesional and organized.

  • Mireya-Expressions Gift Co.

    Twitter is fabulous. I just started it and it is great. It so hard to control who is on it. I have to unfollow some weird people.

  • http://www.downlinedoubler.com Becca

    I resisted the urge to join twitter until a few days ago. I always do that, lol, I’m a wait and see type of person. But finally I realized what a great way to get more hits, more prospects and more members for my website. There IS a lot of spam out there, but I try to provide only content that will interest the target audience I’m trying to reach. In just the few days since I joined the hits to my website has increased by 40%. I should have started Tweeting AGES ago!

  • http://www.lancashireroseblinds.co.uk lancashire Rose

    twitter is really good, if used properly, only follow people in realted insustries/sectors and only people who are in related services to follow you. Dont use twitter as purley an adblaster, remember its a two way conversation.

  • http://www.piercedandmodified.co.uk Belly Bars

    Thank you for an interesting article, again.

    I’ve been thinking about Twitter for a while now, even went so far as to sign up a few months ago then forgot all about it.

    Guess I’ll just need to dig it back up again and have a go.

  • http://twitter.com/KirkhamsEbooks Follow Me

    I’ve unfollowed people not necessarily due to spam but pages and pages of pure ads I wasn’t the least bit interested in. Of course one peson’s junk is another person’s break through

    Rick

  • http://Retirefund.Blogspot.com Retirefund

    I have been active on twitter for just over a month and I believe it has increased my profile greatly. Yes there are spammers, but you can quickly unfollow them and follow only those that you are truly interested in.

    I write a blog for recent retirees and those wishing to be retired, and I see no point in sending out tweets that do not describe exactly what my latest entry is about. I tend to follow those who use Twitter the same way.

    I believe Twitter has a great future for several reasons. It has the same potential as Google did when it started up. I wonder if there will be an IPO?

  • Henry

    You know, twitter is great, however its better not to use for sell or promote any thing. People do not buy or pay attention to you unless they know you, like you and trust you. Twitter should be use to further enhance and possibly create new relationships based on trust.

    If such trustworthy relationship happens to have a biz you can use, twitter is a great tool to show what you have. I try not to twitt junk, sell or promote any thing, thankfuly my twitter‘s page name sells itself along with my website. People tend to gravitates to our site because of its name.

    So when I twitt,,,not promote I try to twitt about public interest or services, events and other things that promote off line social media interaction. Promote evnte where actual twitteres can get to meet eachother, talk and perhaps create biz realtionships if possible.

  • Guest

    I’m so sick of hearing about Twitter. It’s a chatroom people.

    Every time I see another article about Twitter I want to punch the writer in the face.

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au Australian Online Bookshop

    Real time search is the path that all major search engines will go down and twitter has really been a leader in this respect.

  • http://tek.org.uk thetek

    Twitter has its uses but it’s nothing new. We all had shoutboxes on our sites years ago, Twitter is almost just a centralised version.

    Sadly Twitter is just becoming a cloud of noise as it encourages the fire and forget mentality.

  • bainzy

    Twitter, has surprised everyone with its reach and capabilities but for business it is still, I feel a million miles away, instant news feed great, but theres loads of them, a load of dross, yep plenty of that…but real simple b2b , b2c usage a million miles away, however it wont take long for another to realise where twitter has gone wrong and grab the business prize…not too long for those that have seen the writing on the wall.

  • http://www.StreamlineFunnelSystem.com/?ID=38233 Jeffery

    It’s true. Twitter simply can’t be ignored.

  • http://www.5starweddingdirectory.com Guest

    I find the twitter is mainly used for b2b communication, as in the wedding industry, not many brides and groom communicate on twitter, but will us the likes of Facebook.

  • http://bjeanspot.spaces.live.com Guest

    Like a drivers license to drive toward one’s heart intent, just what if a test prior everyones continual use of Twitter; about how actually to rightly go there, get around to succeed and even make use thereafter, which becomes all about reasoning being there at all, truly happens? Gee!

    Truly a variety of integration options be what’s needed most and sectioned into/among groups, what do say about that?

    I actually think social networks could concentrate on one main subject per web site instead of mass confusion in most every one that’s out there. I relish the idea so, much that as owner for the actual founder for many Celtic web sites, we agree to keep them all Celtic posts throughout. I say this because, Twitter may have to example such, less of confusion benevolently someday and any reap considered for us hanging in there be offered rightly back via some kindly extra pool earnings. Speaking of benefits/advantages since it is all whom sew the ropes. I’m speaking of everyone among us, as subscribers potentially most apt to gain for that needed payback.

    Yes, payback from the hardship of experiencing but, sticking with it anyway, lesser of complaints meanwhile. Hey, am I dreaming big well, why not? This IS still a big talk issue.

    I enjoyed reading through all posts and I thank you each for this. The article creation was certainly needed. Time is always of essence.

    Much Appreciation!
    Skype Address jjf.booker

  • http://www.bestonlinemoneytips.blogspot.com BestOnlineMoneymakingTips

    There is no doubt in my mind that the tremendous capabilities of Twitter still needs to be discovered and is largely under utilized. The power lies in the 140 character restriction, which almost forces you to get your message across in the most efficient manner, and not losing or misleading your audience. Go Twitter Go!!!

  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com Michelle Salater

    It’s amazing how fast Twitter spreads news. Think about it: If you witnessed a newsworthy event, you could tweet about it via iPhone or blackberry immediately–before it even reaches news stations. My only concern is, what if rumors spread like wildfire? Twitter information is monitored the way broadcasted news is.

  • http://angiemarion.blogspot.com Angie

    As in anything, you must be careful to weed out garbage. Whenever I get an email that someone is following me, I go to their profile and see what they’re about. If they’re selling marketing tools, for example, i don’t follow them because I’m not on Twitter for that, and also because this is not high school. Yes, I have over 1000, probably closer to 2000 followers right now. I do not follow all people back for reasons noted above. I check my twitter grade but I don’t do the “5000 followers over night” crap. Twitter is still about networking, and content and it’s our right and choice to decide who we want to follow.

    I’m also one who does NOT believe everything I read and people should really adopt that mentality.

    Oh and another thing. With all of the hacking and stuff going on – I won’t even click on links unless I know what it is. If I see a topic trending, I’ll try to see what it’s about then Google it. You just never know.

  • http://www.oil-painting-online.com Kaia

    Putting Twitter into Perspective…You are so smart!

    ps: Welcome to visit my blog:http://www.oil-painting-online.com — Stupendous Art World with Excellent Chinese Oil Paintings

  • http://www.warriorforum.com/members/johny909.html Alona Mui

    Usefull ramblings, loved reading over it. thx.

  • http://www.designerchaircoverstogo.com candelabra hire

    wow- back in 2009 this article is still valid- twitter is still big and i think it is starting to die down a bit but still going as strong

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