The recent successful initial public offering (IPO) of Twitter made me think deeper about the power of its business model.
On the face of it, it seems the idea cannot fly. First of all, what kind of things can you discuss within the limit of 140 characters? It can only be petty things like “I bought the new iPad today. It works great!” Even if millions of people see the tweet, so what? What kind of audience are attracted to Twitter? Are they serious about what you post?
It turns out that this is exactly what catches fire. Twitter is not a place for discussing important issues. It is a microblog setting a pointer to important issues. In the hectic life of today, people seldom have the time to read long passages. The things that grab attention are the catch phrases that stick, or some bits of important news like “Big earthquake rocks San Francisco” or “Gunman kills 10 school children”.
If you are a celebrity, a leader, a politician, or someone with a following, twitter offers the best tool for you to directly communicate with your audience to show you care for them. All you need is to post a tweet and see the responses coming in. You don’t want long responses because you don’t have the time to read them. However, the number of responses and their short contents will help you assess your influence and their reaction. This is why the Pope tweets too!
If you own a website or a business, it does not hurt to tweet because it does not take up much of your time. Your tweets set up pointers to your business constantly. They will add up over time to benefit your business.
The only people who should worry are the news reporters. If people at the scene tweet or text right after they have seen things happen, the news reporters lose half of their value when they get there later. Their work will be limited to more detailed reporting or analysis because they did not break the news.