Recently, I have noticed how my interaction as an individual with Twitter has changed. When I first created my profile and for some time afterwards, I used my personal handle to express some rather bland opinions, whether it be my critique of last night’s Walking Dead episode or my frustration at how Everton Football club were performing. It took me some time to realise that no one else was actually interacting or expressing interest in my tweets and of course, why would they? Other users could use Twitter to tweet the Walking Dead cast or the football players of my beloved club directly. They could also listen to official tweets from verified accounts or other commentators who had far more interesting and sometimes controversial opinions.
If people were not interested in me or my opinions, then why was I still using Twitter? What was I getting out of it? The answer was “information”: information about my interests, both personal and professional. I was using Twitter in a totally different fashion without even realising it.
My first instinct when I want to find out about a particular subject, such as breaking news, is to go to my Twitter profile. The reasons for this are twofold.
- I’m usually searching from my phone, as I’m not always at my desk: Twitter is easy to navigate and user friendly.
- I want bitesize information and want it quickly! Twitter is ideal for this.
Twitter also gathers other information that I find useful, such as people’s experiences with products and services as they interact with them. More and more people are starting to use Twitter to talk about brands in real time. This allows the tweeter to directly contact the brand or the observer involved to see how the company responds, as well as what the brand’s “Top Tweets” look like. By viewing these “Top Tweets” we are able to form an opinion based on official, direct posts and real time feedback from customers.
I am now no long using Twitter as a traditional social media tool but instead as a listening device of sorts: the closest comparison I can make is the way in which I use Google. Twitter is directly affecting my purchase habits – sometimes positively, other times negatively – depending on the information I find. In many occurrences Twitter acts as a precursor before my engagement with a brand, which will eventually be enacted through Google.
Of course Google will always be the daddy as it presents the user with far more relevant and varied information, but I can’t remember the last time I ran a Bing search or Yahoo’d something. I can, however, tell you the last time I checked my Twitter for information.