How individuals use Twitter

As I’ve spent more time on Twitter, the way I use the site/service has changed.  A part of that is becoming familiar with features and functionality, as well as assimilating changes as they occur, e.g. tracking.  But by far the biggest factor that has changed the way I think about Twitter involves the number of people I’m following.  Moving from a handful of following/followers to over 400 has shifted the way I use Twitter – primarily how I use different platforms.  I think this is an experience that others have experienced as well.

Jeremiah took a poll recently that showed most people using web, many people using a client app, and some using mobile.  I think if tracked, platform usage correlates with account tenure.  Most newbies start out on the web.  If they stick with it and discover enough engaging conversation, people get "serious" a.k.a. "addicted" and install an app like Twitterific or Snitter.

But once the novelty wears off – the brightness and shininess, if you will – what then?

The answer’s simple – find *real* value in the service or go dark.  Here’s how I see some ways that individuals appear to be finding value (not mutually exclusive):

  • Referrals.  I’ve seen more and more people talking about how Twitter drives people to their sites.
  • Community.  A place where conversations around common interests pop up quite often, e.g. around social media or during sporting events.
  • Commerce.  Companies like Dell, JetBlue, and 71Miles give early notice on great deals.
  • Entertainment.  I was surprised to see a string of sexually explicit tweets last week, a user who was literally involved in a sex chat.  (I unfollowed him.)  In a less salacious application, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game of D&D pop up.
  • Information/Research.  I got five replies with to a tweet while showing Twitter to a client.  See the reference to Jeremiah’s poll above.
  • Serendipity.  When you’ve got a ton of followers, sometimes it’s like watching the matrix to see if you stumble across something delightful.

As more people get on Twitter, the ecosystem evolves and matures, while the "rules" bend and get broken.  The bad news for marketers is a lesson straight from Second Life – just having an account isn’t enough; success requires engagement.  Will the next lesson for Twitter itself be from Facebook – if and when the day to monetize arrives?

[BTW I’m tweeting here.]

Being: Peter Kim