For the uninitiated, Twitter's a service for people to communicate through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: "What are you doing?"
It's "The New New Journalism." Bloggers can use Twitter as a micro-blogging tool. Developers can use the API to make Twitter tools, such as Quotably, that draw lots of attention in the Twitterverse.
If you have an aversion to cutesy names, emoticons, or white boyz frontin' hip-hop slang, yo -- leave now or forever hold your Tweet.
Google and Yahoo have both publicly stated the future of search will be more social. None of the Big Three has claimed it will be more Twitter-like.
So why all the buzz over Twitter? Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) posted "The secret to Twitter" on Sunday. Scoble's one of the most popular tweeps on Twitter as shown in Twitterholic, the leaderboard for Twitterers.
Scoble used Twitter to let folks know he's in New York this week for FastCompany.tv, his new excellent adventure in online video. He arrived after Jason Calacanis (his semi-sworn enemy) left town in a kind of "New York...this town's not big enough for the both of us" moment. Or not.
The SEO secret of Twitter? Everyone wants to talk about SES Keynote Speaker Jason Calacanis and Mahalo. Tweeps and SEOs and SEO Tweeps just can't get enough of Jason.Scoble, though, doesn't want to admit that the Jasons of the world draw traffic like flies.
Why is it so addictive?
I've gone through stages with Twitter. At some point I thought it was important to get lots of followers. But lately I've been telling people that the secret to Twitter isn't how many followers you have, but how many people you are following.
1. Getting followed just means you're popular. Yes, that's cool, but it hardly will make you interesting. Paris Hilton will have more Twitter members than I will, when she joins.
2. Getting followed a lot might mean you're using it for a publishing system. If all you have is followers what makes that different from owning a newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, or, even, a Web site? Hint: nothing.
3. If you're just trying to get followed you're probably just needing attention or you might be Jason Calacanis.
Most people, though, only care about people following them. It's an ego-trip for the semi-famous. I like Scoble's approach to Twitter.
The good news: you can block people from seeing your messages. After this column, a lot of people on Twitter may block me.
So how do people encourage others to follow the days of their lives? (and hours...and minutes...and seconds.) Here's how some of the biggest social media marketers get their Tweet on.
Sex, Bribes and Mac Daddies
OK, not so much sex. (No sex please, we're SEOs.) But check out this exchange. The Twitter names have been initialized to protect the innocent.
sm: so if I had a contest and gave away some ipods and stuff asking a random question on twitter would that be lame???
rb: @sm: lame ;-)
jd: @sm depends, you might as well just send it to me ;)
sm: Re:twitter contest... i think 2 winners like 1 for quickest to answer and 2nd for random correct
sm: im trying to figure out how a twitter referal (sic) program would work... i have it decked out in my head
ab: @sm I gave away a prize to those that followed me on Twitter - added a few hundred followers - heck @jc is doing it too
ds: naturally thing. but i'm close enough to the leaderboard that I figured i'd nudge it a bit.
ds: @sm heck asking people on my blog is ruining my vibe. but it's not a "clean" thing. it was more just a hmm, what would i get to (in total followers)
ds: @sm wasn't saying incentive for followers was bad at all! bribes can be good things. just was wondering if i could do so without :)
sm: @ds you are very sneaky! But isn't asking calacanis to advertise for you when he incentivize (sic) his ruining your "I am clean" vibe
sm: @ds ohh so asking people who incentivize their twitts to advertise for you is more "right" then incentivizing it yourself =P
ds: @sm yeah but i said yesterday i had no macbook to give away: plus, nice to do it without bribes
sm: @ds Bribes can bring them but quality will keep them ;)
sm: @ds i meant nothing by it... just messing with you... carry on ;)
To Err as in Arrington; Attitude not Gratitude
TechCrunch ranks number one in featured stories on TechMeme. But that doesn't mean TC's Mike Arrington (TechCrunch 40 partner with Jason Calacanis) appreciates his lofty status. Competitors like ReadWriteWeb do.
TC: haha. I called HackingNews my favorite news site. TechMeme's Gabe Rivera is pissed, sent a funny/nasty skype message (not revealed in Twitter).
ek: @TC Did the HackingNews get Slashdotted? Or whatever it's called nowadays -- TechCrunched? :)
gr: Well, I'm just concerned for your accuracy @techcrunch and I suspect that particular superlative was innaccurate...yepper.
TC: @gr thanks for the concern Gabe. It's good to know you're looking out for me
TC: @gr I mean, quotably is old news now, still not up on techmeme
Scobleizer: @TC you're onto why I've been checking FriendFeed over and over every few minutes lately.
Scobleizer: @TC I'm checking TechMeme less and less. Techmeme has become Google News.
gr: It was old news even when @TC posted and @Scobleizer tweeted it. Who posted it before both of you? http://twitter.com/gaberivera
Scobleizer: @gr why is your Twitter feed more up to date than TechMeme? :-)
rww: @gr, RWW still loves Techmeme (want to push us into that #1 spot?)
lad: @gr Despite what @Scobleizer says, I still use Techmeme multiple times a day :)
Scobleizer: @lad: Techmeme is getting more and more popular. But if we wanted popular...
Scobleizer: @lad if you want popular you should check out Digg. It still sends 50x traffic of Techmeme.
The Three Gs of Twitter: Gossip, Games, Gaming
In the end, that's what Twitter's all about: gossip, attention, ego, war games. Search Engine WarGames? Not games that Google would need to play any time soon.
Some tweeps actually say "good night" to the "Twit-O-sphere" in a "Good night, John-Boy" on "The Waltons" TV Land kind of way. Oh yeah, TV shows are popular too: "Weeds," "Lost," "In Treatment."
Is Twitter "The Truman Show"? "EdTV"? Try "Romper Room" meets Soupy Sales in a chat room. (For our global readers, that would be preschool shows for toddlers: now, after-school with money.)
But as Scoble says, Twitter's addictive. You don't want to miss out. It's people talking behind your back. It's the cool kidz and the mean tweeps tellin' me:
You'll never tweet in this town again.