Last week a wide array of traditional media elite and social media leaders gathered in NYC for the annual 140 Characters Conference held June 15–16, 2011 which centered on the 140 character medium known as Twitter.
What was the takeaway? Twitter is no longer a fad. It may not last forever and few of the first in any product category last for the duration of the product’s use, however Twitter has deeply embedded its heels into modern human communication.
User adoption and integration into the web has become common, meaning that Twitter is mainstream. Twitter is comparable to email, TV, radio and snail mail ¾ part of the communication mix. Like other communication channels, Twitter doesn’t reach everyone, but in certain areas of a market, it will penetrate deeply and very close to the target audience. Twitter has added another medium to the human communication system giving the masses another method to share content with anyone who wishes to receive it. Twitter joins the likes of media monoliths like newspaper, radio and television without the massive upfront costs of equipment and infrastructure to support the organizations. At the 140 Character Conference (140Conf), founder and host, Jeff Pulver related the impact of Twitter to that of his early experience as a ham radio operator. Jeff would listen to a transmission, filter out the interesting content and relay the content to other ham users or off air to other mediums like his family and friends, very similar to Twitter.
Over the thirty plus presenters at the 140 Conf in NYC last week, the theme of content curation was paramount. The net has exploded the amount of content which anyone can access, but it is the individuals who filter that content and provide added value who will win the race for clicks and eye- balls. The other substantial take away was that Homo sapiens adore talking about themselves. We love the perception that people care about who we are and what we have to say. It is leveraging our desire to talk about ourselves that many have been able to develop significant communities around any given topic. The community could be a support group for individuals with an illness to nerdy farmers who tweet to stay connected to the outside world.
No other media in history has been able to curate the opinions of the masses instantly. We have seen Twitter support revolution in the Mid-East, but the potential for Twitter to cause a revolution in human communication is ever present. Marketing and advertising adoption of social media has been toward selling a product or service. The lack of overwhelming success supports the fact that social media will be great for helping brands expand their presence and learn more about what makes the brand tick in the eyes of their consumers versus selling a widget directly.
Twitter is like a live wire tap on the public conversations of every user which the media and business world can tap into, evaluate and report on at their every whim. The future of Twitter and the social media landscape will be riddled with the success and failure of people to develop communities who can support any given objective. Some will monetize and others will make the world a better place, but by creating an environment where people can connect, share and “do good,” the power for Twitter to act as a revolutionary tool in human communication is immense. Whether you are a marketing professional, advertiser, CEO or grandparent, you must add Twitter to the likes of radio, TV and newspapers in your mind. Realize that Twitter is nothing more than a short collective, conversation between any user of the medium. One guarantee can be assured ¾ we are only on the crest of the wave of change which social media, and the new mediums which they have yet to introduce, will be brought to humanity.
Author: John Carew