Allen Shepard of GovLoop asked me today “why do you think Twitter is taking off?” Here are the ideas that first come to mind.
Speaking on behalf of individuals:
1. I am unique. From the clothes I wear, to the social circles I fit in with, to the company I work for, to the ways I decorate my house, my hobbies, I can imagine most humans seek to manage an identity, knowingly, or not. Set up a twitter account, write a bio, post a few tweets, and voila, we have a sense of who you are.
2. I have a voice and I want to be heard. I don’t want to be the tree in the forest falling victim to the old question “if no one is around, does the tree make a sound?” I want my ideas to be heard, my likes, my dislikes, and I want to spread good news, bad news, neutral news, the latest and greatest, or old ideas tested tried and true. And especially when it comes to idea sharing within the government, the melting of the glacier-like lock-down of information (someone used this metaphor at FOSE, sorry I can’t remember who said it to properly give you credit) and emergence of transparency, people need and want to be heard. Besides, maybe government wants to be rebranded? “We need to make public service cool again.” -Steve Ressler
…and those inside (and outside) government can do this, one tweet at a time.
3. I am curious. As long as you have a pulse, you probably have a level of curiosity. With over 7 million tweeters, Twitter is a gold mine for emerging ideas, information, and other ways, quite simply, to stimulate our minds.
4. I can find others who I can relate to! I like fly fishing, the State of Utah, and Gov 2.0. I am sure there are tweeters out there with the same smattering of likings.
5. I like competition. My twitter following just tipped over 1,000! Hooray! – I tweeted a pic from a world known event that got my page 500,000 views! Hooray!
6. I like to be part of a revolution. Twitter is the fastest growing member community site, growing 1382% since February of 2008. The more who join and see the value, the more the site’s worth speaks for itself. And because this site is entirely user driven, there is a direct correlation between the volume of users and the value of the site.
7. Retweeting makes me feel good! People like to give praise, and do good works, or good “retweets” for others. While it is nice to give props to your coworker with a list you cc:, or congratulate a little league player in front of his teammates, it is pretty powerful to give someone a pat on the back with 100 potential listeners. Or 10,000.
Speaking on behalf of brands:
8. Brands can show their “human” side. The first time I bought a pair of shoes from Zappos, I was amazed that they arrived at my door 24 hours later. While I can read about a company in their annual report, it’s nothing like reading the CEO of Zappos tweet out stuff like “Happy birthday Twitter! Like most 3 yr olds, u make me feel happy, sad, surprised, overwhelmed. But in the end I still love u.”
9. Brands can engage customers/fans where there actually are. I spend quite a bit of my life at a computer and on the internet. I am far more likely to read about an initiative a company is doing through Twitter than embrace the junk marketing materials that land in my snail mailbox.
10. The economy stinks; free viral marketing isn’t so bad right now! And, it probably works.