Thursday, December 18, 2008

My View on Twitter

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

I heard about Twitter from few friends of mine who could not stop raving about it. After initial skepticism about how useful it would be, I joined the bandwagon and started twittering (Micro blogging on Twitter is called Twittering). I post about 1 tweet (post) per day on Twitter. There are some people who tweet all day long (I’m not sure if they do anything else).

From my experience so far I can tell you that it is a pretty good tool to learn things you normally would miss, things that you care about.

There are a number of people in the Web Analytics, Online Marketing and Advertising space that I follow and I’m always adding more people to follow. Following someone can provide you insight into what they are up to, what are the cool things they read or have come across, and what business challenges they are facing and trying to resolve. You can even learn how they solve these business issues.

Occasionally you will see people who tweet about their daily life. Their tweets looks like “I am sipping a cup of Starbucks mocha”, “I am walking into my apartment”, etc. But if you ignore such noise (unless you find it informative) you will find lots of useful information too.

Personally, here is how I have used Twitter so far:

  1. Find new articles/blog posts : There are so many articles published every day and it is hard to keep track of everything. However, people I follow on Twitter bring that information directly to me via their tweets

  2. Ideas for Blog Posts: Other people’s tweets have provided me with ideas for my own blog

  3. Get Answers: I have asked questions and have gotten answers from people who follow me on twitter

  4. Find new people to follow: I have found new thought leaders to follow, which in turn helps me with number 1 and 2

What does it mean to follow someone on Twitter?
Following: Following someone simply means receiving their Twitter updates.
Followers: Your followers are those who have elected to receive your tweets.

Someone mentioned awhile back about how to measure the success of your twittering. In his opinion the KPI for measuring the success of twittering is the number of followers/number of people you follow. The higher this number, the higher your success is on Twitter. What he was basically saying is that you should write great stuff so that people want to follow you but you should not follow anyone else because your KPI will drop. I don’t agree with this point of view, in my opinion, the KPIs for twittering success are :

  1. The increase in number of followers

  2. Number of Re-tweets/Tweet. Re-tweet is when someone takes your tweet and tweets it again so that his/her followers can read it too

  3. New things you learn (hard to quantify but you know when you learn something new)

Other KPIs could be

  1. Increase in your brand awareness (both personal and corporate)

  2. Increase in any site side conversion (you will be driving users to your site/blogs etc.)

Who should you follow?

It really depends on your interest. I started with few people in the web analytics field and my coworkers. Now, I also look at the original tweeters of the re-teewts that come my way and if the person meets my interests, I start following them. I also follow people who are following me if they tweet about the stuff that interests me.

If at any point you don’t like what a person is tweeting about then you can just stop following them, it take one click to stop following them.

Here are some Web Analytics and Online Marketers that you might start following:

I got this list from the Web Analytics Yahoo Group. Please let me know if I missed your name. If you would like your name to be added to this list then please leave your name and twitter username as a comment and I will update this list.

If you are already on Twitter I would like to hear your opinion about twitter. Do you think it has helped you personally or in business or is it a distraction?

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  1. I think you have the wrong Jim Sterne in your list. The web analytics guy is jimsterne, not jsterne.

  2. Do you like using Twitter via a cell phone, or PC, or ?

  3. Gregory, I use PC, I get charged for every text message on cell phone so figured it is best to just use PC

  4. Anil,
    I see my name on your list (Iya Chernyshova), which has an old twitter id "explorer1". Could you please update it to "iyac". Thanks!

  5. I recently started using twitter too (after hearing so much about it). There is an addon for firefox called "Twitterfox". This is one of the best ways for twittering I feel. Its very easy as well and helps us to twitter as often without any trouble. Its a one click twittering addon. :)
    Twitter has definitely helped me. I can follow web analytics like you Anil and also other sites and people which is good.

  6. Hey Anil,

    Great list. I tweet a good bit as digitalalex.


  7. Please add myself to the list


  8. Brian Hawkins
    twitter account: brianthawkins

  9. Hi Anil,

    Here's my name and Twitter ID:
    Ridder Manzanet
    Twitter account: rmanzanet

    Ridder Manzanet

  10. Hello Anil,

    I have found that Twitter has helped me keep up to date on things that I may have otherwise missed; I have also learned from others by following their tweets and subsequent followers and have come across new methodologies or new technologies.

    On the negative side, you have to watch for 'trollers'. Example, I was asked a simple question about our technology recently and I kindly tweeted that our technology was about A and not B. He re-tweeted that his company did both. Today I see that he is using the same tactic with another competitor of ours where he asks a question then throws a dart at the reply justifying why his company is better.

    Dan Piche
    Twitter: DHPiche


I would like to hear your comments and questions.