News Analysis: Of the dozen or so friends and family members in my social circle that have planted digital digs on Facebook, not one of them either gets or cares for Twitter. Those that grok it think it’s stupid. This is astounding to me. As I write this, Twitter fanatics are questioning my choice of company.
While Facebook is largely a world of communications and content sharing between people who have granted access to their social graphs (add 5 cents to the Mark Zuckerberg phrase coinage fund on my behalf), Twitter is a social medium that wears its tweets on its sleeve, publicly for all to see. This weekend, a perfect storm of events bubbled up to underscore what these are such heady times for our favorite microblogging service.
Twitter took center stage for Black Friday shopping deals, and we have the New York Times to thank for its expose on the deal busting madness. The Times piece sums up the value Twitter holds for commerce, both brick and mortar and click and mortar:
“A Twitter post can in theory be seen by millions, and thus packs more punch than an e-mail message or a phone call to a store. The big retailers are all scrambling this Christmas to come up with Twitter plans. They are designating tech-savvy employees to respond to the posts, sometimes by providing up-to-minute inventory information from a sales floor, for example, or by offering help with some balky gadget.”
For example, after buying a new navigation system at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, Laura S. Kern of Los Angeles could not figure out why it was not giving her traffic updates. The Times said she sent a message to Best Buy’s Twitter account and within five minutes not one, but two Best Buy employees responded with fix-it advice.
Twitter help is not limited to just advice on consumer electronics. In Bloomington, Minn., Mall of America used its Twitter page to tell consumers two of its parking areas were at capacity and that their best bet was to park near Ikea. That is useful info, folks, delivered in real-time to your computer or mobile phone.
Meanwhile, in Orlando Tiger Woods Friday night trashed his Cadillac Escalade under unknown circumstances that look increasingly suspicious, and TechCrunch swooped in to wield Twitter as yet another weapon in the crusade versus old media.
The story basically says old media bad, Internet media good. Sure, the tenor of the piece is suspect (is there anything so trite, tired and pointless as new media denigrating old media for being a little slower?), but the point is well met. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler wrote:
“Thanks to Twitter, thousands of people had access to this information about 45 minutes before it appeared on CNN or ESPN, the ‘worldwide leaders’ in news in their respective fields.”
How Twitter Helps Gangs Tweet Out
Siegler didn’t feel he made his point well enough, so in a follow-up post, he says Twitter is the new Walter Kronkite.
Ladies and gentleman, TechCrunch has drunk the Kool Aid. Wait a minute… TechCrunch is the Kool Aid, so TechCrunch is using the Woods coverage as a way to say Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah to CNN. We and the tools we use are better than you. We get it. Rub it in a little more. Only half of old-media’s ass is still chafed from your constant burning.
The point is, we don’t lean on Twitter just for shopping deals, coupons and parking advice. We lean on Twitter because it’s fast. Moreover, the more official news orgs cotton to Twitter, the more official the news will become; we won’t have to worry if the crowdsourced sourcing is suspect or not.
Gangs do it, too. Use Twitter to communicate, that is. In Manhattan, “young thugs” use Twitter to tweet out gang attacks and other juicy bait for law enforcement officials, according to the New York Daily News.
“Investigators are monitoring the traffic in hopes of sweeping up gangbangers before the bloodshed – and searching Twitter after attacks for clues. “It is another tool … just like old phone records,” a police source said. “We can go through them [messages] to track these guys.”
Of course, we much prefer the harmless and heart-warming Twitter success stories associated with Black Friday and commerce. The Times story noted that Best Buy has a Twelpforce of 2,500 employees that answer consumers’ questions in real time.
The Twelpforce fielded about 25,000 questions even before gearing up for Thanksgiving weekend, including the help Best Buy employees offered to Laura S. Kern in La-La Land about her new GPS.
“Ms. Kern in Los Angeles used the service on Friday. After she could not get her new navigation system to work, she tried Best Buy’s telephone support line, only to receive a warning that her wait would be an hour. So she posted on Twitter instead, and within minutes, Best Buy employees were sending her useful links and details about her gadget. “It’s amazing,” she said later in the day.
Amazing indeed. This real-time power is the reason Google and Facebook were so interested in Twitter and why Twitter’s founders would be foolish to sell. There’s a business model in all of this info. They just need to flesh it out and they’ll be golden.