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Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 16 July 2012

With Practice, You’ll Get Better With Twitter … Or Not

“Has anybody here read a real book about vampires, or are we just remembering what a movie said? I mean a real book.” – Jacob, “From Dusk Till Dawn,” Dimension Films (1996)
 

We admit that Twitter has done a lot of good in recent years.

It has help topple tyrannical governments.

It has made people painfully aware of natural disasters and brought aid to the people involved.

Politicians have used it excessively to highlight their strengths and opponent weaknesses.

 

Yes, we’re pretty sure we have a Twitter account.

 

Every so often, we get an email saying someone is even following us on Twitter.

We don’t quite agree with Seth when he looked over the place and said, “I could become a regular.”

We’ve heard about the folks, but never really met a Twit. That is what you call a Twitter “expert” isn’t it???

Sorta’ like vampires … read about ‘em, saw ‘em on TV and the big screen; but meet one in real life?

Nope!

The difference is we really believe Twits exist because we constantly read how someone got in trouble with his/her 140-character messages.

Twitter Attack – We’ve all read how someone put together 140 innocent characters that quickly came back to bite them. It’s easy to send a short message/ thought. It’s even easier for Twitter followers and followers of followers to savagely attack. All of a sudden it isn’t fun, small or innocent anymore. Image – animalsw.com

Most researchers have been looking closely at the microblogging service for more than five years, and their estimates on the number of users go up and down about as much as the stock market.

They’re Out There

eMarketer adjusted their numbers for the U.S. last year (down from estimates a year earlier), saying that 16.4 million adults (9 percent of the Internet population) uses Twitter at least monthly.

But because it’s hard to dispute what will happen in the future, they said it will grow by 26 percent this year and will reach 11 percent of Internet users and 16.5 percent of the social network user population.

In fact, next year about 28 million Americans will be tweeting next year.

More than half of the Twitter users (53 percent) are women, and most of them are young.

But as Frost warned, “Anything you got to say to them, say to me first.”

Folks who disclosed their age (not sure why they wouldn’t, they disclose everything else) 66 percent are under 25 and 15 percent are 25-29.

Young Fast Lane – For the most part, the Twitter population is young and in a hurry. Teens, pre-teens dominate the site; but even then, the volume of posts and comments pale compared to the volume of people sitting on the sideline and watching. Source – Synomos

Most analysts have backed off their previous bullish projections, noting that although there has been a rush to sign up, a big percentage of the hundreds of millions of accounts are actually used by people who browse the tweets but don’t actually use the service.

Only about 1.1 percent of the users update their timeline more than 10 times a day.

So about 75 percent of the Twitter activity comes from about five percent of the users.

Active Minority – Any self-respecting social media person has a Twitter account; but posting something even once daily, weekly, monthly is left to a small minority to put their ideas, their thoughts, their emotions out there for everyone else to see, read. Source – Sysomos

And what is all this bandwidth gobbling discussion?

Don’t Wake Me – While Twitter officials and enthusiasts like to promote the fact that the microblogging service is a fast and effective way to get your information, your message to people who matter; people who have studied the stream of thought closely find most of the online discussion to be less than zero. Source – Pear Analytics

According to a study by Pear Analytics, more than 40 percent was pointless babble – “just had a great cup of coffee, just saw Justin Bieber, skipped work and saw a great movie, just shot past a cop and stuff you don’t even want to know.”

Shrinks understand Twitter’s popularity.

That’s why Jacob said, “I'm not going through a lapse; what I've experienced is closer to awakening.”

All about You

The most popular topic you can think of is … yourself!

According to neuroscientists at Harvard, about 40 percent of a person’s – any person’s – conversation is personal.

As far as our conversations, we understand what Seth meant when he said, “I've already had a wife.”

Using brain imaging and behavioral analysis, they found that talking about yourself – Twitting – had the same response with your brain cells and synapses as food, money, sex.

Money, ***, Twitter – Psychologists have found that Twitter activity produces the same effects on the brain as money, food, ***. That’s probably why Twitter isn’t one of our favorites. A couple of those items are much higher on our personal list. Images – Diana Tamir – PNAS

James Pennebaker a psychologist at the University of Texas, said, “It makes sense to me. Why else would you Tweet?”

Today’s always-on technology has made people forget if they’re at the office or home and when they’re in a public or private place/discussion.

That’s probably why people talk real loud when they’re on their phone right next to you talking trash.

Twitter isn’t much different. They think they’re in a private discussion, but they’re actually broadcasting.

And hey, if it’s good enough – and cheap enough - for your kids, it’s good enough for your company and your products.

Company Push

After all, right after telling folks how awesome you are; what’s better than talking about your company, your product, your news?

Too Good – It’s little wonder that companies have embraced microblogging. It’s a fast, easy, immediate means of getting your marketing messages out to “them.” Of course, there’s a difference between pitching and listening/talking with people; but in the hands of customer service/support personnel, Twitter can resolve customer issues quickly, before they become major problems and go viral. Source – Burson-Marsteller

In fact, in many organizations, Twitter is more popular than Facebook because of its immediacy for company news, customer service, promotions, recruitment.

A couple of years ago at IDC’s Directions conference, Danielle Levitas used Dell as an example of one of the firms that had fully embraced social media, noting that the company had racked up more than three million dollars in sales for used (returned, refurbished) hardware.

True, we can see the use of Twitter as another business tool; especially in providing customer support, offering coupons, location-based promotions.

For companies, microblogging can represent true permission-based marketing as long as marketing/communications folks understand that Twitter can really be a two-way conversation. The Tweets have to be relevant, authentic, transparent.

Oh yeah, you may not have noticed, but it’s sorta’ like talking to (not at people) so they have their Twitter voice as well.

That’s probably why so many firms are finding it invaluable for customer support.

Solving an issue/problem in public can produce invaluable word-of-mouth (WOM) promotion for the company.

Of course, not listening, not responding or not assisting the customer also produces WOM no one likes to hear … especially your boss. That’s probably why Twitter has been called one of the most dangerous social platforms that’s been introduced.

Well Maybe

It’s great for its immediacy but before you hit send, you have to ask yourself, “Do I want 20,000 strangers to read this?”

It’s a whole lot different than talking face-to-face or even on the phone where people can “read” your tone, inflection, body language. These things just aren’t part of the 140-characters that flash across your screen.

Just a little bit of the dark side and they can turn into monsters.

As for vampires, we’ll take Seth’s word for it, “And I don't want to hear anything about ‘I don't believe in vampires’ because *I* don't believe in vampires, but I believe in my own two eyes.”

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Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek.  You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net.  Mike's blog can also be found on the Huffington Post website at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-l-berman/.