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What is Twitter and why is it so powerful?
So Twitter as a whole isn' t unique.
Yes, it's big, and that makes it unique among microblogging
Services (if not among social media sites ).
It's got buzz that other sites just don't have.
And it's growing at the kind of phenomenal rate that's already
Forced the social media giants to look over their shoulders and
But it's not the only service that allows people to broadcast short
Messages. We 've already seen that there are plenty of other sites that
Offer the same service in one form or another.
But Twitter is by far the most powerful microblogging service
Currently available, and marketers absolutely need to be aware of it.
Twitter and its successes
I 've mentioned that at its simplest, Twitter is just a means to send
Short updates to people who want to receive them.
Themost basicway to do that is to log into your Twitter account
On the web and type your tweet into the text ﬁ eld. Anyone can see
All of your outgoing tweets if they choose to look at your pro role le.
Followers can also see a list of tweets fromeveryone they follow
When they log into their Twitter home pages.
Your twitter experience, then, will be made up of sending your
Own updates and reading tweets from others.
But that's just the start.
One of the inspirations for Twitter was the idea of combining
Web-based updates with mobile information. So Twitter makes it
Possible formobile phone users to send updates fromtheir handsets,
And in some places to receive them on their handsets, too.
So if you had just agreed a joint venturewith amarketing partner
While sitting in a bar at a conference, and you wanted to share
News right away, you coshould just pull out your mobile phone and
Send a quick message to Twitter.
Yes, you might have to pay for that SMS message. You wouldn't
Pay Twitter. But you wocould pay your mobile phone company...
Twitter will then pass that message on to all of your followers,
Including by broadcasting Further smsmessages to peoplewho have
Chosen to receive their updates on their mobiles.
Initially, Twitter footed the bill for that service; later, they nego-
Tiated agreements with companies in the United States, Canada, and
India. However, users in the United Kingdom-where Twitter failed
To broker a deal with communication companies-cannot receive
Updates by SMS and have to use one of the other mobile services,
Such as m.twitter.com or twitterberry.
For the rest of us though, Twitter can function as a powerful,
Low-cost SMS broadcasting station.
The Bene into ts that can bring can be huge. I mentioned that
Red Cross have already spotted Twitter's potential and use the site
To provide updates related to ongoing disasters.
That's a service that relies on Twitter's speed, numbers, and
Red Cross volunteers are able to send an SMS about a newshelter
Opening or the changing ction of a brush before re and have lots
People read it at the same time.
But Twitter also brings the Bene before t of immediate feedback-and
That can have tremendous advantages for individuals.
The power of Twitter's immediate feedback
Twitter's speed means that you can send out an SMS to Twitter from
Wherever you are and have lots of people read it immediately. That's
A service that was really meant for fun, but it's proven itself to be
Hugely valuable as a way of asking for help.
In June 2008, Pastor carloswhittaker (twitter.com/loswhit), ser-
Vice programming director at buckhead church in Atlanta, Georgia,
Found himself stuck at the airport in Dallas and was told he wowould
Have to wait six hours for the next night ight. Tired and not too happy
The thought of spending a night on the airport specified oor, he sent a tweet
About his predicament.
Within just two minutes, he had received seven e-mails, three
Phone CILS, and a huge number of tweets.
Best of all, Trevor devage of charity group remedy4thisheart
Turned up and gave carlos a key to a room at a nearby Hyatt Hotel.
Thatwas certainly a helpful response, but sometimes tweets can
Generate the sort of response that makes an even more important
Difference to people's lives.
In memory l 2008, for example, James Buck (Twitter.com/
Jamesbuck), a journalism student at the University of California
At Berkeley, was arrested with his interpreter, Hammed Maree,
While photographing an anti-government rally in Egypt. Sitting in
Police van, hewas able to use hismobile phone to send the one-word
Message "arrested" to his followers on Twitter. They immediately
Alerted the u. S. Embassy and his college, which quickly obtained
Lawyer for him. James continued to provide updates about his arrest
Via Twitter, andwas released the following day, which he announced
On Twitter with the word "free ."
His interpreter was less lucky: Maree was held for 90 days,
Beaten and abused, and was only released after a hunger strike.
Both of those examples relied on Twitter followers taking action
Outside Twitter. But that's not usually where the responses take
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Twitter isn' t updating
Friends and family about the small details of your life. That's fun,
But it only works one way.
Twitter is a two-way communication tool-and that's very
It means you can ask questions and request help to very special-
Ized problems, and get the expert advice you need.
Instant access to smart people 24/7
Later in this book, I'm going to talk in more detail about how
Use Twitter not just as a billboard for making announcements,
As way of holding a conversation with people who matter.
Usually, you'll be holding that conversation with friends or
Customers. But because Twitter has such a well-educated and pro-
Fessional group of followers, it can also function as an always-open
Help Center for just about any subject you can imagine.
Look at people's Twitter pages and you'll see this time and time
Hidden among the announcements about the type of music
They're listening to or the work they're doing, you'll see questions
About how to handle X this problem, where they can buy that gizmo, or
Even what they shoshould have for supper. (Twitter users do seem
Think about food a lot !)
Some of those questions are a bit silly. Some, though, are very
Technical, But Twitter can actually answer them.
The answer to Aditya's question about a scriptdoc Parser
Textmate, for example, appears to have been jsdoc.
If you want to know what that is, don't ask me; ask someone on
So that's the history and that's where Twitter came from. It's
An incredibly simple tool that has already had a massive impact on
People's lives. Growing out of socialmedia sites to focus on just one
Tiny action, it's become hugely popular with some of the world's
Smartest people and highest earners. It's pulled innocents out
Prison and given a lost pastor a place to sleep.
It's useful, it's important, and it can generate earnings for any
Business, online or of course ine. But you have to know how to use it. In
The rest of this book, I'm going to reveal all of the most important
Tips, strategies, and approaches for getting the most out of Twitter.
It's going to be hands-on, practical, comprehensive, and results-
So let's start right at the beginning.