Of course twitter is over-hyped, but like several technology phenoms before it, it also has something special. It’s fundamentally a broadcast technology: one sender many recipients and because of it’s roots in SMS mobile phone texting it’s also short. There’s something to be said about brevity. It’s often been said, that a good poem is harder to write than a 20 page essay. A good elevator pitch is very hard to comose, but there’s a whole generation getting a lot better at it in front of our very eyes.
But like every technology it has it’s dark side and misapplications. Just like nuclear technology. Bombs vs. little power-plants in a research satellite being sent to the far reaches of our solar system. And in the early phases of new technology the less desirable applications often come first. But only seeing the dark side of a technology makes one miss the positive impact the same technology can have when used wisely.
Twitter for example can be a great tool to stay in touch with customers if one has a major website outage. One tweet may save hundreds of help desk calls. That’s not only less expensive, but also makes for happier customers. People just want to know how you are progressing with fixing the problem. One tweet per hour and potentially hostile customers may turn into fans. I wish hosting provider 1and1.com could have figured that out rather than staying silent on their recent major DNS problem with their own domain, which affected several of their services in a big negative way. The irony is, that customers were tweeting amongst each other not only their dismay, but also emergency workarounds for some of the services.
And if not overused, it can also be a valuable tool for highlighting truly special things like a once-a-year sale. Or a new version of a flagship product.