One of the great challenges for anyone who loves Twitter is to show other people why they should love it too. Often it’s like explaining something you find funny: “You had to be there.” The contextual, ever-changing, and high-volume nature of Twitter makes explaining it difficult. Here are ten tips to help you demo Twitter to your friends, family, and colleagues.
1. Sales and support. Truly, Twitter is no longer predominantly about people telling strangers that their cat rolled over or that the line at Starbucks is long. You can start off by showing how businesses use Twitter. For example, AmazonDeals increases Amazon’s revenue, and ComcastCares provides support to Comcast customers. Zappos promotes the caring brand image of the company because its CEO, Tony Hsieh, is doing the tweeting.
2. Competitive intelligence. Another business use of Twitter is monitoring what people are saying about a company or its product. For example, look at this search of mentions of P&G and Swiffer. You can also monitor what people are saying about the competition—for example, if you work for AT&T Wireless, you should watch what people are saying about Verizon with this search.
* TWIBS provides a comprehensive list of companies using Twitter.
* Here is my post about using Twitter as a Twool.
* This PowerPoint presentation called “Twitter for Business” is helpful too.
1. Personal passions. Like the business examples, the ability to find people around the world, 24 x 7 who are discussing ones passions removes the scales from people’s eyes about Twitter. Here are some examples of Twitter searches for more personal topics:
PMS within fifty miles of Menlo Park, California
To create Twitter searches, go to Search.Twitter.com. This list of search operators is useful for more sophisticated queries including those based on proximity to you.
Twitter desktop applications. Using a web page to demonstrate Twitter is like using a web interface to demonstrate email. For many people. a dedicated desktop client helps clarify the value the of Twitter because they can show the results of custom searches. I’ve found that Twhirl, Tweetdeck, and Seesmic Desktop are all useful for demos and ongoing use of Twitter.
Star struck. The good news and the bad news is that celebrities are now taking over Twitter. If the folks you’re showing Twitter to are impressed by celebrities, then show them these stars: Lance Armstrong, Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, and “Weird” Al Yankovic. Lance Armstrong is the coolest of the lot because he really shows his bikes, the snowman his kids made, and sends out appeals to try to recover his stolen bike.
Funny folks. There are a handful of people who tweet stuff that just make you laugh your ass off. If you’re showing Twitter to people with a bleeding edge humor, show them The Bloggess and Penelope Trunk. Here’s an illustrative sample from Penelope: “I woke up hung over: bad-parenting-hung-over from yelling at my sons before bed. Do moms who yell at boys create men who choose mean wives?”.
Deep thinkers. The yang to the laugh-your-ass-off folks yin are people like John Maeda, David Allen, and Lawrence Lessig. John Maeda explores where design and technology merge.” David Allen created the “Getting Things Done” movement. Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford law professor who covers law and technology. These folks will impress your more cerebral, less star-struck friends.
FollowFamous is a compilation of celebrities on Twitter organized by categories such as music, sports, and tech.
Twitterati.alltop. This is a collection of the the last five tweets of the twitterati. (Disclosure: I am co-founder of Alltop.)
Retweetist. The single best way to determine the most interesting tweets is to see who gets retweeted (think of this as forwarding tweets to others).
Twitalyzer. This site factors in people’s signal to noise ratio, generosity in retweeting, quantity of tweeting, and clout to provide a list of influential Twitter users.
Twittercounter. If you believe that popularity (that is, the number of followers) is an indication of quality, this site is useful.
To find additional interesting people, use these resources:
All the news that’s fit to tweet. Showing Twitter to news hounds? Perhaps they want to be the first to know that a plane landed on the Hudson River. Here are three very good sources of breaking news: Breaking Tweets, Breaking News, and New York Times. (CNN may have more than one million followers, but its tweets aren’t comprehensive.) If it’s geek news that will impress, be sure to show Mashable and TechCrunch.
Hashtag discussions. One way to show the breadth of Twitter is to tap into existing discussions. These discussions are typically marked by “hashtags” such as “#gtd” for the “Getting Things Done” community. A search for this hashtag yields this result. You can find a list of popular hashtags here for your demo. (Thanks to @JDeLuccia for this tip.)
Answers galore. To demonstrate the real-time power of the Twitter community, ask a question that one might have to scour the web to answer. Examples: “What do I need to do drive a 30-inch display from a 13 inch MacBook at high resolution?” “What size lens cap do I need for a Nikkor 18-105mm lens?” or “How should I demo Twitter to a newbie?” The accuracy and speed of responses on Twitter are often amazing. (Thanks to @martindelaney for this tip.)
If all else fails, then just give your friends and family some time. This is year three of Twitter. In a sense, it’s like the Internet was fifteen years ago. Remember when people said, “Why would I go to a web site when newspapers and magazines come to my house, I can see people in person or talk to them on the phone, get driving instructions by looking at my AAA map, and buy books by going to the mall?” That’s where we are right now.