When Twitter launched, it was dubbed the micro-blogging platform of the future. Two minutes later, and you're up and running. Overnight, Twitter could dispel running erroneous data points about the millions of bloggers out there.
There might be millions of bloggers, but most of them sign up for accounts and abandon their efforts or have very little activity. Actual activity over hypothetical numbers is almost always a good thing.
Still, many people don't know what to make of Twitter. What is it? What's the point? Honestly, why would anyone care what you had for breakfast, or how many times your visited the restroom? Last week, Twitter confirmed plans to monetize with paid accounts and adverts so there has to be more to it than that, right?
Sure There Is
@GuyKawasaki's keynote at SES last week got more than a few people talking about the ups and downs of Twitter. Some people say Guy is spamming the conversation. Spamming Twitter is a hobby for many and it's always entertaining for me to see spammers complain about other spammers in an attempt draw attention away from themselves.
Spam, particularly in the instance of Twitter, is still pretty loosely defined. Is it spam to use an application like TweetDeck to facilitate information dispersal? Is it spam to have five full-time underpaid/unpaid interns Tweeting and building your Twitterbase on your behalf?
For me, the spam conversations as it relates to Twittter were oddly reminiscent of the early days of search marketing conferences when people got together to discuss better ways to "rank-up." Later, some of those techniques were labeled "spam."
I've heard opinions on both sides of this issue. The top complaint is that the "voice" of the person Tweeting isn't their own. True enough, but does it matter as long as the Tweets are relevant?
Plausible Relevance Deniability
I'm sure there are one or two purists out there who can't stomach the possibility that someone might not be tweeting in their own "voice." Isn't it great that we can have purists for platforms that are so new?
Then again, by the same logic, if you're a social media trade professional being paid to establish Twitter accounts, Tweet, and build an audience for your clients, aren't you violating the "spam" ideal?
It's an undeniable guarantee that when you adopt something new and make it your own, someone will be there to wave a finger to explain that you're doing it wrong. Personally, I don't care if @TimOreilly's tweets are his own or not (He says they are). I almost always find the nuggets of info interesting, so I follow. Tim's 185,000 plus "followers" with only 500 or so "following" is in stark contrast to @GuyKawasaki's 96,000 plus "followers" with over 105,000 "following."
Guy's stated philosophy is to follow those following him, without exception. It's also a pretty common practice to go out and follow a bunch of people with a lot of followers. At least I've heard it's a pretty good way to build your Twitterverse.
@KevinMRyan, is Twitter a Search Engine?
Twitter is a search engine that indexes conversations about content. Popularity isn't determined by backlinking in the traditional SEO sense, but self-designated by the number of retweets and followers.
One must also consider those who are updating and paying attention at the moment you happened to be interested in searching. Depending how alert settings are established and how public one chooses to make updates, finding a week-old Tweet without a link isn't much good to anyone.
In between sessions last week, I could swear that I overheard Twitter CEO Evan Williams on NBC referring to Twitter as a search engine. To that I can only say, come on in, the water's just fine.