Monday, March 16, 2009

What is Twitter?

I was asked this today by a creative. Instead of acting smugly "in the know," I tried to explain Tweets, Tweeps, and the service in general. Here's what came out:

It's considered a microblogging service, but you don't have to put up a whole post or anything, just a short message with 140 characters or less.
So, it's like a blog?
No, it's more of a feed. You have followers and you follow people, and depending the content of your Tweets and vice versa, it's a news feed more or less of cool stuff you might be into.
So, what do I write about?
Anything you want, it's mostly about what's going to be of most interest to your followers and what you like to read. There are many types of "feeds." Mine is about cool advertising, thinking news because those are the kind of people I follow. But if you wanted to know about mundane time at which someone's getting their coffee in the morning or hitting their afternoon slump, those kinds of Tweets are out there to know about.
I do Facebook, that's about it.
Well, Facebook - and its new "facelift" - is a lot like Twitter, where you see other people's updates in real time...

The conversation changed turns and we were then setting up a context mapping session in which I will reference Twitter and Facebook and review sites. At least he won't be blindsighted when I bring up Tweets, but the issue (and game for planners) will come when we bring to life how social media is changing people's consumption of media in general.

I think it's a matter of asking the right questions so that we include social media in the conversation. This was in fact the very topic of a planner I feel privileged to work with, Planning for conversations by Christopher Owens at the AAAA Planning Conference 2008. Conversations are powerful, conversations can happen anywhere, and brands, products and companies must be conversational. Ok. But how do we make this happen?

The standard questions on a brief don't take into account the interaction that can happen with a brand. Should this piece of paper be changing to include a social space? If we were to answer the question "what's my brand's share factor?" What would we say? If were to "guide" the conversation, where would we take it? What do we want people to talk about? Or rather, what are they talking about and how can we participate?

things to think about.

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