Twitter is considered to be the first-mover in this space, and I am just beginning to play around with it. For those of you unaware of or new to the Twitter thing, check out this post by Tibi Bpuiu. It's a great overview of what it is, and more importantly how to generate personal value out of it. Or, if you prefer video...
Twitter is still a niche tool, as it is just reaching ~1 million users. Starting with SXSW a year ago, it has slowly been creeping its way around the tech community, and the buzz is getting louder. The next question is, how do politicians, companies and others find value in this idea? Here are my thoughts:
- Brand Tracking - Comcast has already discovered this method. My sense is that they had some help. If you don't have the resources to hire your own tracking consultant, TweetScan is a decent (and free) alternative to monitor your brand within the TwitterSphere. Every communications director and corporate marketer should at least create an auto-scan of their boss and/or company name. TweetScan allows the adding of a particular scan to your RSS reader, but unfortunately they do not offer email updates yet.
- Feed Your Supporters - I know many will not be interested in Hillary Clinton's thoughts just before she makes the same speech for the millionth time, or what goes through Steve Jobs' head as he puts on yet another black mock turtleneck shirt. But there are thousands of folks that are interested. On the political front, these are the zealots that drive your fundraising and staff your phone bank. On the corporate front, these are the folks that wear your logos, and preach the greatness that is your corporate brand. You need these folks, and Twitter offers a great method to interact with them (if done well). Good examples are not @hillaryclinton or @barackobama. I have yet to find a decent political Twitterer that offers anything more than a reading of their public schedule, but I digress... The key here is authenticity!
- Earned Media Hit - this Twitter thing is growing, but it is still a small player on the overall conversation landscape. Thus, using this tool to break news or otherwise push forward the frontier of what is possible can lead to a nice earned media hit, especially on the political technology front. Beyond just breaking news, Twitter offers an API to integrate its features into other aspects of your online strategy. Spending significant resources is not ideal, but if you can throw a developer on a little something for an afternoon, the earned media payoff offers a healthy return on investment.
To get started, follow me! Also, for more, check out Jeremiah Owyang's thoughts.