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The Value of Twitter

Posted by on November 29, 2008

I was home for thanksgiving and got into a long discussion with parents about what exactly I do.  The SEO stuff actually made a bit more sense to them then the social media stuff.  My parents understood why it is important for companies to maintain an online presence but they really couldn’t understand the social media aspect of things, especially twitter.  My mom said twitter sounded like the biggest waste of time, this really got me thinking about twitter and why I think it is so valuable.  The next time someone asks you why they should join twitter (or tells you that twitter is a waste of time), send them a link to this post.

As you know I am quite an active twitter user and I use twitter to build relationships with people.  However, I think the value goes beyond the platform itself and extends to the actual users on the platform.  If twitter was just a collection of random people who only shared what the ate for breakfast then the value would be greatly diminished.  Have you every considered and thought about the people that are actually a part of twitter?  We’re talking about folks like the CMO and CEO of Best Buy, the Chief Editor at Business Week, the CEO of Zappos, Tim O’Reilly (from O’Reilly Media), Rick Sanchez from CNN, various politicians etc.  Some of the smartest and most creative people in the world are on twitter and YOU can talk to them.  Let’s say you wanted to send a message the CMO of Best Buy (like I did a few weeks ago), what would you do?  Go to the company site, try to find the contact information, send an email, and then wait for a response in a few weeks (if you even get one at all)?  What if you wanted customer service support from a company such as Comcast?

You can start a conversation with virtually anyone on twitter.  There is no other tool or platform out there that gives you the ability to connect with and interact with so many people, we’re talking about actual conversations here.  That to me is the true value of twitter.  The fact that I can send a message to a friend or the Chief Editor at Business Week is priceless, this is a new era of communication that people should really take advantage of.  If you are a marketing professional you can use twitter to search for jobs, if you are an author you can build up a reader base and connect with publishers/editors/distributors, if you are a retailer you can offer promotional items, if you are a fortune 100 company you can collect feedback from your users for product development; twitter is extremely versatile and multi-faceted.

Twitter is to communication and relationship building like Cable/DSL is to the internet.  Remember those 56k modems you used to have or that “turbo” button on your computer that was supposed to speed things up?

Is it time for a communication upgrade?

Thanks for reading

  • Interesting piece, I'm starting to see the use more myself as well. It's the same as anything really yiuo get out of it what you put into it.

    Can you answer the other Twitter question, which is where is the value in Twitter for the owners of Twitter. Where are they going to make the money to keep their business alive.

    • hey sam,

      twitter is actually going to be announcing their business model in the next few months. there is a lot of speculation out there as to what it may be. perhaps charging corporate clients or charging fees for premium membership/etc. as of now they have been focusing on the users. let's hope their revenue model wont cause users to stop using their service.

      thanks fort the comment!

  • Twitter gives you access to things that you wouldn't be able to. Twitter is also great for advertising your content, and sharing information with the world. Tell me do you hear news on CNN before Twitter? I think not.

    • hey bradley, funny you mention cnn. rick sanchez a CNN anchor is actually on twitter.

      thanks for the comment!

  • Nice piece. I found it via my following of @waynesutton on twitter. You make some great points, but I'm not sure the ultimate value of twitter is greater than other means of communication, and as it becomes more mainstream, it think many of twitter's advantages will be lost.

    For example, sure, you can tweet a question to the CMO of best buy, but how do you know for sure it's not his secretary or an intern tweeting back in response? Recently, NBA superstart Shaquille O'Neal signed onto twitter, allegedly, because someone was apparently impersonating him. Within a few days @THE_REAL_SHAQ had several thousand followers (and growing). Assuming he is the real Shaq, do you think he can realistically build relationships with thousands and tens of thousands of fans through 140-character texts?

    Yes, the fact that fans can follow the famous, and the obscure, and gather interesting bits here and there is promising to a degree, but I think a lot of the value you ascribe to it comes from it's relative novelty. That will wear off, eventually. Now the platform itself, that's a different story.


    • one of the great things about social media is the ability for people to expose the fake. there have been several fake twitter accounts of famous people or companies, once one person finds out the world finds out, and believe me, finding out is not a very hard thing to do. i absolutely think shaq can build relationships with thousands and tens of thousands of fans. the fact that people choose to follow him is already a relationship. following the famous and the obscure is not that meaningful, it's the interactions and the conversations that make it valuable.

      sure twitter has been around for a few years and as the platform grows, both from a feature and user perspective, i think the value of twitter will increase, not decrease. social networks thrive based on scale, the more people the better. people are still fascinated with myspace and facebook, twitter is still a baby and as they continue to roll out more features the fascination will grow.

      thanks for the comment!

  • Again – a really interesting post ! Thanks :0) Could I ask how to find various people as I am relatively new to twitter and that bit confuses me a little.

    • hi anita, you can use twitter search to look up people,keywords, or topics. or you can look at a person's connections to see who might be an interesting person to follow.

      thanks for the comment!

  • My mom's read my blog for several months — and while some of my banter goes over her head, she understands most of it. Perhaps your turkey dinner conversation would have been smoother had the folks read your blog. An idea, anyway.

    • hey ari, actually my dad reads my blog so he understood it a bit more, my mom on the other hand had no idea what i was talking about, usually it's the other way around 🙂

      thanks for stopping by!

  • Brilliant.

    • well thank you very much 🙂

      • Yea I heard Twitter were going to be announcing their business model soon. I also heard they turned down a large offer from facebook because they believe in their cash making model.

        I do hope they don't screw up what they have so far, but it will be interesting to see what develops over time.

  • Yea I heard Twitter were going to be announcing their business model soon. I also heard they turned down a large offer from facebook because they believe in their cash making model.

    I do hope they don't screw up what they have so far, but it will be interesting to see what develops over time.