I know many of my professional readers look at Twitter and go ‘Uh?’ That’s OK. I did once as well, casting it as a complete waste of time. In recent times the service has proven itself incredibly valuable. As always with technology, it’s not the tech itself but how it is used that delivers value. That’s both a function of the ‘extras’ you can bolt into a service and the manner in which you exploit its capabilities.
James Governor for instance is using Twitter as a crowdsourcing research resource. Recently that led him to pen this interesting piece about sustainability and Unilever:
During lunch I thought why not try some show, rather than just some tell, so I took out my trusty N95 and asked my Twitter community (which is now more than 3000 people), What does the Unilever brand stand for?
I sat there for a few minutes, hoping I wasn’t going to be embarrassed by a lack of response. And sure enough you came through- like a fire hose not a trickle. One way to check out the responses is probably with a twitter search of monkchips + unilever. I also favourited as many responses as I could see.
Check the repsonses he lists. Also note that by using Search.Twitter, James has been able to isolate the relevant responses. That’s incredibly powerful. Earlier today, I used Twitter to help me source a project management tool. I’ve documented the results over at IT Counts:
Check out the graphic. Note the times involved. I sent out the original Tweet message at 09:19. Someone repeated the message at 09:23 and SIX people came back with EIGHT suggestions by 10:12. I now have eight solid recommendations from the 1,000 or so people I trust (because I agreed to follow them.) They are all on-demand offerings. In one case, the cost could turn out to be less than $90/£60. Problem solved.
Given that a good 60% of my Twitter followers are in the US and Far East, that represents 1.3% reply rate. In any email marketing or survey request, you’ll be lucky to get 0.5% response. This implies the ties created via Twitter are potentially much stronger than those developed through other means.
As an aside, I have only met TWO of the respondents in the real world. What does that say about the ability to create digital relationships that have meaning and value? Moving on.
As an exercise in vanity, I plotted the growth in mine and James Twitter network since April using Twitterholic. The data is not completely up to date but is good enough for this purpose. James is represented by the green line and is clearly accelerating away. Good for him.
Also note that both James and I received substantive responses to our questions. There are lots of possible interpretations and I am aware there is a level of vanity in following people who have thousands of followers. What matters is that each of us received targeted responses from people who know more than we do. The beauty of Twitter is that you can never be wholly sure where that’s going to come from but you can check out the veracity of the soures with a single mouseclick. More value.
If that was all Twitter delivered I’d willingly pay for the service. It delivers a whole lot more. That’s one reason why I am so interested in micromessaging platforms and why I believe ESME is going to be an incredibly important development in 2009.
Now parse this to your client networks. How useful might it be to use services like Twitter to find out what clients or peers think. What bothers them, what do they want to know about, where do they need help and so on. It sure beats the heck out of employing a survey agency at £X,000 when you can do it for free AND have the results tailor made for your network.
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