But is Twitter Useful?

One of the people that Gorgeous and I connected with in Chicago this past weekend was Christine Kane. It probably didn’t hurt that the three of us were all seated in close proximity to a very wild and obnoxious three year old on the same flight into Chicago. That got diverted to Columbus for more fuel after holding too long for bad weather.
Twitter Logo
But that’s a story for another time.

I also had the pleasure of sitting at the same table as Christine at the conference. As speakers like Chris Brogan, Liz Strauss, and Terry Starbucker were talking about the people in the room who were using Twitter to communicate with one another (and with folks half a world away) during the conference, Christine would ask the rest of us questions on the side.

They ranged from the basic to the technical, for example…

  • What’s the point? to interact with others
  • Why would you bother? because I like people
  • Can everyone see what I tweet @ someone? Oh, yeah
  • How does the direct message thing work? “d your_friends_twittername” and they’ll get a private message


Now I’m a big fan of Twitter. But I don’t try “convince” people that they “have” to use it. Though I do confess to most folks that I was a Twitter skeptic for months. I only started using it after a heavy bout of peer pressure brought to a head by Jim Turner.

You know the kind I’m talking about. “All the cool kids are using it. There’s so much going on there. You’re missing out if you don’t join in.”

I caved over a year ago. It was as much to prove to myself that Jim and the others were wrong about Twitter as anything. Since then Twitter’s grown on me. I’m glad Jim persuaded me.

Pluses to Twitter

Yesterday Christine asked the question How do you use Twitter? It’s a good question which begs the follow on question, Is Twitter even useful?

One of the things I did this past weekend while I had some one on one time with so many prominent social media folks was ask them which social media sites they preferred. Twitter was one site that was mentioned every time.

Here are some of the advantages mentioned.

  • Light Weight – works right in your web browser with a (most times) fast loading page
  • Portable – Easy to use from your cell phone
  • Broad Reach – With so many folks using Twitter you can reach a lot of people with it
  • Diverse User Base – People with incredibly different backgrounds Twitter from all over the world
  • Focused – With its 140 character limit Twitter forces people to get to the point
  • Fast Response Time – People can get real time responses on Twitter

But is Twitter Useful?

Those are all good attributes, for sure. But do they translate into usefulness?

Or is Twitter just a colossal distraction and time waster?

I think the answer to these questions is different for everyone. Here are a few examples of how Twitter can be useful to individuals and businesses alike

Network Expansion
Twitter is an easy way to connect with a very large pool of people very quickly, many of whom would be unreachable through other means. For example I first met Joanna Young on Twitter and had the opportunity to meet her in person this past weekend when she flew to Chicago from Scottland.
Get Quick Answers
Some folks throw questions out on Twitter to get instant feedback. Sure the big names get tons of responses to their queries. But even those of us with more modest Twitter followings can get some light shed on a subject if they are willing to engage the community.
Insight Into Trends
There are so many thought leaders and influencers using Twitter that you can gain an insight into where various communities and technologies are heading just by following them on Twitter.
Increased Profile
With a steadily growing friends list on Twitter you can raise your own “brand awareness” by connecting with more people. The increased interaction can ead to increased visibility over time.

But What About Businesses?

Is there an possibility of a business seeing any value from a presence on Twitter? Absolutely!

Just ask Zappos. Their CEO has a Twitter account where he’s actively engaging the Twitter community. But they’ve taken their community involvement a step further. They set up a Zappos Twitter page on their web site with it’s own RSS feed so anyone can track any mention of the name Zappos on Twitter. (Talk about your finger on the pulse of the conversation!)

But Twitter interaction isn’t just a top down thing with Zappos. They obviously encourage their employees to engage the Twitter community. There’s even a page on their site where they list every one of their 286 employees who have Twitter accounts. Note that only 20 of those accounts have more than 200 followers so we’re talking about many smaller circles of influence rather than a few massive ones. Seems like a sound strategy to me

Another corporate example is @JetBlue. JetBlue is an airline that has had customer service egg on its face in the past and has decided to address their issues head on in the effort to put those struggles behind them. Jonathan Fields has a great example of JetBlue’s Twitter Interaction that he posted the other day.

Suffice it to say the story Jonathan shares with us is a tremendous example of how a large corporation like Jet Blue can successfully engage the social media environment. Read his whole post and let us know what you think.

Bottom Line

In the end I have to say, “Yes, Christine. Twitter can be immensely useful, especially to businesses.

Are their potential pitfalls? Of course.

But a sound social media strategy incorporating Twitter and executed well can be a very powerful force working in the favor of a business, regardless of size.

Twitter Follow Me BadgeWhat are your thoughts on Twitter?

And if you want, go ahead and follow me while you’re at it.

SuccessCREEations.com runs on the Genesis Framework

affiliate program logo

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Check out these incredible features and wide selection of designs. There are so many to choose from they created this handy theme chooser to help you find the perfect theme for your needs. With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Or you can even Become a StudioPress Affiliate yourself to start earning today!


  1. I would quote Charles Eames on this one: “Who would say that pleasure is not useful?”

    Twitter’s interesting because everyone uses it differently, but for me it’s just the pleasure of connection & friendship.

  2. Ah yes, Twitter. You know what it is? It’s the “ticker tape of collective thoughts”. They stream in front of you in a way that is strangely relaxing, not unlike watching a real stream up in the mountains. I really resisted this too – really. I didn’t think telling people what I had for breakfast was really interesting (or relevant). But I missed the point. When I saw the fun people were having with it at Blogger Social in NY last month, I finally got it. And jumped into the stream. And now I’m flowing just like the rest of you. Life is strange, because it is so capable of surprising you. Twitter really surprised me.


  3. Terry,

    Along the lines of “ticker tape”, check out our application that allows you to follow live trends on Twitter.


    There are a lot of fun facts, going with your breakfast example you can see that people talk about breakfast more on weekends than on weekdays, which is the opposite of what happens with lunch:


  4. I’d say so yes, for connections, conversation, chat, and fun. Especially if you work on your own, these things can brighten up your day.

    I’ve used it many times as inspiration for things I’m going to write.

    If you talk about the work you’re doing people will spark on it – I got an enquiry yesterday for example about a workshop I’m running in Sardinia on the back of one single 140 character tweet. Beats a standard press release huh?

    And I’ve just been getting some ideas from people about innovative ways to market said workshop, arising out of a conversation about ice cream.

    That being said, if you let it you can waste a lot of time there and end up doing not much else. It’s a fabulous tool, but one we need to learn to use effectively (and I suspect that will be different for each user)


    PS And yes, getting to know you has been a wonderful spin-off :-)

  5. Just yesterday, Twitter became very useful. I was lamenting that the online interview about Mommybloggers on the Today show wasn’t captioned. An interpreter tweeted and volunteered to interpret the video for me via ooVoo. Technology–gotta love the connections it makes!

  6. I think of it as #1 Crowdsourcing for the little guy (those not big business or who are freelancers) and #2 ease dropping on others conversations. You can then follow them if they talk about stuff you want to either talk about or hear about #3 It also usually points me to the best posts on subjects which people pass along and I think saves my eyes from reading stuff I probably won’t find interesting.

    The main thing is to have things in common with those you follow and those who follow you.

  7. I was converted to be a twitter user by the wonderful and witty Warren Whitlock.

    It works really well and I enjoy it big-time.

    That’s it folks.

  8. I, too, was in the “what the heck is this thing, Twitter?” camp for a time. I signed up, tried it, and then let it go for a while.

    Now, I love it. I love it because it allows me to augment my blog with my current thoughts and my current “happenings”.

    What am I thinking?
    What am I doing?

    Also, it is kind of an diary that I go back to time and again.


    Shaun Dakin – CEO & Founder
    The National Political Do Not Contact Registry

  9. I fought Twitter tooth and nail, and then a friend finally convinced me a week ago today. (“I don’t need one more $%^ thing to do!” I’d say.) But it turned out to be a smart move because it’s helped me forge stronger personal and professional relationships with people I had just met at SOBCON. If there’s a downside, it’s that I need to set limits so that I get other stuff done. It’s like anything else: It is what you choose to make of it.
    Anita Bruzzese

  10. A very insightful overview of Twitter. Any time you want to guest blog for The Wall Tweet Journal [walltweetjournal.com], the pleasure will be ours and of our readers.

  11. I love Twitter because I just started blogging and twittering, and already I know who’s who and what’s what… Er, most times.

  12. Chris, like so many others who’ve commented, I fought and dismissed Twitter for a while. I considered it a tool for the ego-driven, Narcissist crowd with far too much time on their hands. Have these people no jobs? I wondered.

    If I weren’t a vegetarian, I’d eat crow now for thinking that. A couple of months before SOBCon I started thinking Twitter might actually be relevant and useful to me. And, of course, I started to have some fun with it. Then, during SOBCon, I got really clear about it’s relevance and the possibility it offers.

    It’s still too easy to get sucked in, so I have to limit myself when I’m busy. But, yeah, Twitter’s a keeper.

  13. Great post! It really makes you think about the time you spend on Twitter and what does it leads to? For me, Twitter is very useful. As an author I’ve received so much feedback on my book, PR 2.0. Also as a business owner, several meaningful conversations have led to great connections, whether that’s tranlslated into new business, marketing opportunities, partnerships, etc. I’m a huge fan of Twitter and the more you do it, the more addicted you become!!

  14. Holy cow, y’all. I hit publish, head out to a Chamber of Commerce event and all sorts of conversation breaks out.

    Seems like the consensus so far runs along the lines of, “I thought Twitter sounded a little dumb at first, but now I’m a fan.

    Wondering how other folks feel about it?

  15. So far, Twitter has been lots of fun a good way to connect with people. I’m not sure how much time to spend Twittering. It’s rather addictive. Your post and commenters are giving me a better perspective on Twitter, so thanks!

  16. Glad to help, Brad. The balance issue is a big challenge, for sure.

  17. I just started twittering and while it’s fun, I’m not completely comfortable with going public. My biggest fear is that I’ll get too comfortable using it and share something I shouldn’t! So for now my twittering is private and just for fun. Though I did just learn hear that if you send a message to someone everyone sees it! Now, I’m just hoping I didn’t say something that was meant for only one to see!!

  18. I’m a convert to Twitter. I held out, acted like it was beneath me, but it is just plain addicting.

  19. Pleasure is useful, it’s fun, even if it is maybe not an efficient use of your “work” time

  20. I finally broke down and signed up to see what the hype was all about but I did it strictly to try and help get my small t shirt website a little more traffic or at least some brand awareness. i am not real sure how I can use it for this purpose and have not really found it to be that entertaining. Maybe if I had a bunch of friends to go back and forth with but from a small business perspective, I am not a fan yet.

  21. Twitter is a useful app, but not nearly as useful as Facebook or MySpace. It will always be a second rate social utility in my humble opinion.

  22. Thanks for writing about this. I have been hearing about Twitter for a few weeks now and was wondering what it was. I think now I have some ideas about how I can utilize it for my own purposes.

    Thanks again :)


  23. Twitter like all the other social networkign websites out there is a good too meet people and get to know more about them.

    However, I would say in presence of so many good and preferrably used Social Networking site its going to take some time for twiter to gain popularity.


  24. Twitter is a great app while you’re not at home, maybe overseas and need to update or let your readers know what you’re doing at the moment. I once used twitter to show off what I was enjoying at the moment during my trip in Rome. Isn’t that a nice idea when you don’t bring your laptop along? It’s good while you only have cellphone with you and in some places they don’t got T1 or wi-fi/wireless connection for you.

  25. Thanks for this insightful article on Twitter. As part of the marketing for our company, we’ve also considered using Twitter in much the same way you have described how Zappo’s or JetBlue is using it. Personally, like those who left comments above, I sometimes find Twitter too engaging and I try to set a time for twittering along with other tasks. But I appreciate the immense value of real-time feedback and news from the people I’m following. And like Joanna Young, I use Twitter too as a source of inspiration and ideas on what to write about. So, yes, in my experience, Twitter is quite useful, just don’t get too addicted with it. :)

  26. I must say, I don’t get Twitter either…I’ll have to take a second look.

  27. I have started using twitter for my business a few months ago as a part of social media marketing strategy. ALthough I am yet to see the direct benefits yet, there is little justification not to try it at all. I guess for smaller companies its more about building a twitter profile and seeing where that takes you.

  28. I am just now exploring using twitter. I see it as a platform for making connections with people sharing the same interests. I can also see it as a tool for customer service issues.

  29. never found much business use for it yet

  30. I must admit that I havent used tweeter bec for some reason there are alot of social media like myspace, friendster or facebook, not yet mentioned multiply. so this site is nice to tell about something that twitter can do. Hmm I dont even know how to spell twitter… =) well maybe one time i can check it for my future social media

  31. I’ve been using social networking sites for the last 3 years or so, twitter has been one that recently ive began to use, but have found that friends have not been so quick on the uptake. Personally i think twitter can be a useful communication tool, if you have the right followers.

  32. At the moment I’m at the “sceptical” point with Twitter, and it will probably take some time for me to get to the “make an account just to prove it’s stupid” phase that I’ll probably go through, just like I did with Facebook. And then the “wow this is fantastic” phase will kick in not long after that.

  33. I use twitter every time and use via my iphone .I recommend app iphoneterrific is good app for iphone .

  34. Hey man thanks for sharing that great article about twitter, I heard about twitter so much and i make a profile at there but i really don,t know how to use it its just because of that i am newbie at internet marketing but i ll send more time at twitter to understand about how to use twitter…
    Thanks again

  35. Well, i never used Twitter until i read this article about this guy who used it for advertising purposes. He wrote about how in just one day he got over 100 clicks to his website. Now 100 visitors may not be that much, but if your site is new, that is the perfect way to get free traffic. To all you who’s on the fence about using Twitter, i suggest you do some research about the advantages of using it.

  36. I agree, and not just because i was the one who told you about that guy Bravo..lol. Using Twiiter to get visitors is something every webmaster should take advantage of. Might as well strike while the iron is hot.


  1. [...] Here’s what I just said on a very, very good post about Twitter by Chris Cree: [...]

  2. [...] And Chris Cree poses another great question — is Twitter useful? [...]

  3. [...] useful for users to keep up to date with people or organisations that they may not know personally (Cree, 2008). The potential for Twitter being used by consumers to follow brands whose websites they would be [...]

Comment Policy: Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. Please, only use your real name and limit the number of links submitted in your comment. If in doubt, please take a moment to review our full Comment Policy before you click "Post Comment" so we don't mark your comment as spam.

Speak Your Mind