Twitter: finding the light side of the force.

In summary Just think: free, constant contact with your prospects, colleagues, and clients. Of course, it can be used for good, too.

Playing the Twitter long game is only possible once you realize that the social media platform is not a bullhorn. It’s a conversation.

Twitter’s¬†little bluebird escaped Pandora’s box not too long ago, asking the question, “What are you doing right now?” To some, it’s a new media addiction. Others, a great way to keep up with their personal goals of the new year. And then there’s me. To me, Twitter is a dangerous cult led by those with too much time on their hands, and a desperate need for people to “follow” them.

That is, at least, until today. See, today I came in, briefly checked my blog feeds, and was surprised to find a guide to “get things done” with Twitter. Say what? Isn’t Twitter that website that sucks in all of your time while you try to avoid doing what it is that you are supposed to be doing? Instead of actually doing something, you’re telling the world that you’re doing it while you actually read about what other people are doing? How on Earth is Twitter supposed to help you get things done?

The article (found over at ZenHabits.net) talked about using time-management applications, like To-Do lists, in your Twitter account. “OK,” I thought, “this is a clever attempt at making Twitter look like it has value, but if you read down in the comments, not everyone is thoroughly convinced (yes, there are other Twitter-phobes like me roaming the Internet on a daily basis).” Really, I noticed, that those time-management techniques would work, but only if you were already using Twitter. It’s not enough to bring non-believers into the inner sanctum.

The post, however, did bring me back to a brief conversation held on a podcast I was listening to yesterday. Oddly enough, the hosts of the show were Twitter users, but they were scoffing at the idea of companies using Twitter for grassroots marketing. This had me truly baffled. On the one hand, I had read a blog post about effectively bringing Twitter in to use it for (sort-of) good, and on the other two web marketing specialists clinging desperately to utilizing Twitter only for evil. And by evil, I mean for no real reason whatsoever (in my opinion).

But, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel. If the two podcasters are preaching that the “intent” of Twitter is not for marketing, should not be for marketing and is just for recreation that can only mean there are others outside the commune, finding a way to make Twitter actually do something for them.

With some brief investigating, I was surprised to find that our good friends and office-mates over at SharedVue are using Twitter. From them I found a whole network of other companies doing the same thing. Advertising companies, book publishers, Starbuck’s, newspapers, retailers – the list was endless. Clearly you can market with Twitter, and people respond. Every company I came across had a healthy base of followers, and regular conversations going on between them.

I even checked up on the podcast host who scoffed the marketing swing Twitter is taking. As of this morning, he had already changed his tune:

“Perhaps I just need to accept Twitter is now a marketing tool as well as a way to keep in touch with people.”

It seems both he and I have found our way to the light side of the force that is Twitter. I’ll be very interested to see how this trend progresses as the application finds itself more mainstreamed with the coming months. Just think: free, constant contact with your prospects, colleagues, and clients.

And to think I began this post calling Twitter a bad use of time for the extremely bored and lonely.

With this newfound outlook on the application, I am putting my findings to the test. In the coming weeks I will:

  • Register for an account on Twitter.
  • Update it regularly.
  • Engage in conversations.

Can it be a focused marketing medium used to communicate with colleagues, clients, and prospects? Will the Dark Side reduce my good intentions to updates about what I had for lunch and last week’s episode of House, M.D.?

One way or another, I’ll keep you posted.