What’s All This Fuss About Twitter?

Several of my friends have asked me, what’s this Twitter thing all about?  I have to admit, when I first heard of a 140 character “micro blog”, the idea seemed silly. Who has time for something like that?   I dutifully watched the video on the Twitter site that sort of explains what Twitter is, but by no means was I prepared for the realization of how powerful a tool Twitter is.

Last week, I tweeted  the following: that for the first time ever, a “social media” is changing the course of history.  I understand this sounds melodramatic, but the reality of what is transpiring in Iran is an amazing example of the power of the micro blog.  While the Iranian government was scrambling to shut down all communication from inside, the Twitterverse responded by requesting that Twitterers all over the world identify their account as being in Tehran, Iran.  The reason this made sense was to disguise who was Tweeting from inside Iran.  By cluttering the ability to identify who was sharing info from outside, Twitter was able to help the information that was able to be shared outside of the country from those within.

Apparently this worked well enough that the Department of Defense requested that Twitter postpone maintenance from the middle of the night our time (middle of the day in Tehran) to the middle of the day our time (the middle of the night in Tehran).  The ability to gather intelligence from the Tweets coming out was that important.

But what does that mean to you?  You may not want to read about Harry blowing his nose, or George having tuna for lunch.  I agree with you.  However, with the way media is changing due to the rapidity of information gathering, it’s impossible to ignore the power of this tool.

Recently I had the pleasure of moderating a panel for eWomen Network on Social Media and how Traditional Media is reacting to the changing environment.  It’s no secret that newspaper circulation is down, radio listenership is down, and television news audiences are down.  Many people are turning to the Internet for their news.  All three of the panelists, representing TV, Radio and Newspaper were consistent in their recognition of the need to incorporate social media as a way to reach their audience and to gather information.

As a business person, how would you use social media to effectively supplement your marketing programs and reach the audience?  I’ll address this question in the next post.  Stay tuned!

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