New Delhi: Wassup is the most common question among friends and one that elicits ‘blank vacuity’ to ‘inane comments’ to ‘the meaning of life’.
Manish Sinha, sr VP, Mudra Mktg Services & head, strategy, Tribal DDB
But what happens when you have too-long a buddy-list and cannot ask all your friends this all-important life-changing-question?
Enter twitter. It’s a Web 2.0 tool that basically ‘wassup’s your friends all day long and lets you read their answers if you choose to subscribe (in twitter parlance).
Twitter lets you publish updates about your life in 140 characters or less (SMS limit) to family or friends who choose to follow you. All you need to do is answer the question, ‘what are you doing?’
It is a device agnostic message routing system which essentially means that one can send and receive messages (tweets in Twitter lingo) in a number of ways, including their website, mobile phones, instant messaging clients and downloadable desktop applications.
Life happens between blogs and email
As Common Craft puts it, ‘Life happens between blog posts and emails’ and it is precisely this life between the blog and email that twitter lets you publish.
While many people send out updates like “had an amazing cup of coffee” or “going for a jog”, twitter is increasingly being used by people to share their thoughts and to provide links to things they have been reading or experiencing.
There are many benefits to twitter, other than keeping up with the lives of one’s friends.For one, it is easy. With easy access to technology, we are pretty much a lazy race. Blogs of 300 words or more are difficult to pen with people turning to micro-blogging from the comfort of their mobile phones.
Saving men, helping the helpless a la’ superman
Twitter recently saved a man from jail and got an unemployed person the job of his dreams. A man who was jailed in Egypt sent frantic tweets (updates) and his ‘followers’ (contacts) mobilized forces to get him out of jail.
Another man in the US sent out a minute-by-minute update of the day he was laid off by Yahoo. His followers were glued to their screens as he sent updates about packing his belongings, meeting HR and leaving office. Before he knew it, job offers from helpful netizens were pouring in.
Of course this does not mean that all the one million twitter members get such dramatic results through their tweets. Why then does twitter generate so much interest and hype?
Tap into the global brain
Twitter ignites new thinking, conversation and ideas. It allows people from across the world to come together and share their thoughts and lives. It brings together people and their ideas which lead to newer conversations and lines of thought.
Twitter lets you follow the most creative, bizarre, new-age thinkers on the internet. So if you are bored of getting the same old updates from friends, you can follow some CEOs, inventors and thinkers.
Follow Scott Goodson (CEO, Strawberry Frog) on twitter and you will get updates about what he is reading, thinking or doing. It is pretty much like being with the person 24X7, only that they choose what you get to see.
Twitter is also good for self promotion and resource sharing. You can send updates about your company and work or share links to resources that are of value to you and your followers.
But then twitter is a network, and a network is only as good as the people in it. Pick the right ones to follow and you may just find yourself tweeting gladly in twitter world.
Twitter is good for sending out breaking news, brand promotions, day-only-sales, exciting updates, promoting a blog or bringing people together for a cause. Brands too have jumped headlong into twitter and a few of them are faring well.
Some twittizens believe that brands that exist on twitter are ‘lame’ since they are not people and are pretending to be part of a conversation where big corporates do not belong.
American airline, Delta Airlines is on twitter and sends our tweets about offers, promos and other airline related information.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of popular online company specializing in footwear, Zappos, is on twitter too, though his tweets are as personal as they are professional in nature. He has a whopping 7000+ followers. What that does for his brand is debatable, but here is a CEO striking a conversation with his TG in a space of his/ her choice.
Twitter in India
Barring a few bloggers and social media enthusiasts (just a handful), India is non-existent on twitter. Not just India, but even globally twitter has been slow in gaining acceptance from most sections of the webbing world.
Twitter is meant for the digital native who swears by micro-blogging and for whom snackable content is the only content worth spending time on. With short attention span and a desire to cram the most into her day, twitter is a life-saver for those who are time starved. Digital immigrants however face their share of problems in understanding the ‘need’ for twitter and give up on it too quickly.
Perhaps the nomenclature of twitter is a barrier too since it is not easy to understand the value of twittering especially since the name does not do much to help. If we called it ‘gupshup’ perhaps there would be more takers in India.
If Bollywood celebrities, movie production houses or IPL teams sent out twitter updates, this would get a lot more popular. Maybe a digital display of tweets in a cricket match would also help promote the concept. Clearly, a lot can be achieved within the nano-constraints of 140 characters if we choose to re-imagine brand communications not as long messages but as shards of thoughts, feelings, tweets…
Manish Sinha is senior vice president, Mudra Marketing Services & head of strategy, Tribal DDB. Additional inputs from planner Sonal Jhuj