While Twitter began as a way for mobile phone users to tweet short status updates or interesting blurbs to a group of followers (usually friends), it has found its true niche in society and has morphed into a completely different model. It is now a powerful media tool that corporations, celebrities, and freelancers use to promote themselves and their products. The icing on the cake is that with the advent of auto-posting Twitter is completely free, even when considering opportunity costs of time.
After some researching I was surprised to find out that the overwhelming usage of Twitter is through computers with the majority of unique visitors logging on from work. According to NielsenWire, in February 2009 almost six million unique visitors logged onto Twitter.com from a PC, with only 700,000 accessing Twitter from their phones. And why not? If you’re sitting in front of a computer screen all day, checking personal email and a rolling Twitter scroll is just a browser tab away.
It was only a matter of time before our advertising-driven and technology hungry society latched onto the idea that whether or not a person is using Twitter from their phones or from their computer, they can reach masses of people wherever they are. Being a phone Twitterer, even I click on links from the people I follow almost 100% of the time. This is because I only follow the people or businesses that I care about, and I can turn off and on phone alerts for individuals at my whim.
If a business keeps an active Twitter account, meaning they tweet updates and other possibly useful information, they can amass a completely customized following that is much more prone to immediate action. As a scion of retail, I can vouch that consumers are tired of giving out their email addresses and consistently complain that they get way too much spam emails (which includes emails from legitimate companies, not just the traditional spam). This can lead to reluctance to open a weekly email, even if the consumer likes a certain company. With a Twitter user’s ability to edit their alerts to specific degrees and no way as of yet to forcefully sign someone up for alerts, a business is guaranteeing that the people who are following them are currently actively interested and therefore much more likely to make the magic motion: Click.
The fact that more Twitter users are using Twitter from their computers means that actual follow through with something such as a purchase is a real possibility. More businesses need to grasp this idea, especially specialty and focused businesses. Twitter has had a longstanding psychological association with vapid tweets and mobile phone usage akin to simple text messaging. This is increasingly no longer the case, and the connection to mobile phones only makes the deal sweeter. Many websites such as Digg or StumbleUpon are literally just lists of neat things that people have found on the web. Digg and StumbleUpon both have Twitter accounts, and you can bet that part of the reason they are there is to garner some of those 700,000 monthly phone visitors.
Twitter is simultaneously a conduit to two rapidly growing forms of communication, and the fact that it has its grounds in desktop users should change most businesses’ ideas of its immediate usefulness. If done right, the relationship between the Twitter follower and the business will seem like a much more personal affair, with tidbits read on a phone at random intervals throughout the day, and a more active participation in the business’s website when on a computer. This allows and promotes multi-level revenue possibilities that have affected the customer in a more personal experience. Now the only question is: What are you waiting for?
Michelle McGiboney, Twitter’s Tweet Smell of Success, Nielsenwire
Clive Thompson, How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense, Wired.com