Posted May 21, 2007 5:43 pm by with 5 comments

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…and 5 ways it can screw it up for you.

By Kelvin Newman

The fuss about twitter has died down a little over the last couple of weeks and people either seem to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread or an indication of everything that’s rubbish about web 2.0. Personally I’m more of the former than the latter.

I think it’s a really interesting tool and offers some excellent opportunities for people who would like to expand the reach of their personal brand and are willing to experiment. But it’s risky too and easy to cock up.

The Good

Gives you a personality – one thing that marks the gurus apart from those less well known industry figures is their character. Whether someone stands out as interesting, funny or just plain weird in any sector the stand out experts have bucketfuls of personality. Regular 140 character updates via SMS or IM give you the perfect opportunity to spread your personality. There’s something unique about the short length of twitter updates that really encapsulates how witty and pithy people are. Sounds like the perfect way to brand yourself.

Breaks through the noise – I get hundreds of emails a day and have an RSS reader full of feeds which is almost a full time job read. But I don’t get many IM messages and even fewer text messages on my mobile. The content of twitter really cuts through the static, most people are selective about who they follow on twitter; but once they do you’ve got a short cut to their attention.

Creates face to face opportunities – if you are nipping down the bar after a conference the chances are you’ll twitter it and other people will too. It might seem impersonal but you’d be surprised how often twitter will offer up opportunities to meet people face to face. It’s one of the best ways to get your face ‘out-there’ and will make the route to the A-list that much easier.

Show you’re ahead of the game – twitter is instant (when it’s working) if you’ve got a scoop it might be old new by the time people check your blog or podcast. If you’ve got some breaking news you’ve really got to take full advantage of it. A quick tweet and all your contacts will know you were first, cementing your place in the psyche.

Helps you stand out – there are millions of blogs, everyday I add a few more to Google reader, but there’s relatively few people taking full advantage of twitter. In many sectors there might be no competition. It’s much easier to be a big fish in a small pond.

The Bad

Don’t bug people – when someone is receiving every update you make straight to their phone or IM it’s easy to get irritating. Don’t update too often and make sure every update has some real value. The people who complain about twitter always mention the ‘I’m getting a coffee update’ they are part of the charm but make sure you ratio of useful tweets is high.

Avoid DUI – Dialing under the influence is a real risk with twitter. Don’t get carried away with a heated twitter debate when you’ve had a couple of beers or are in a bad mood, if you are building up your personal brand the last thing you want to do is come across as an amateur.

Don’t wake people up – my fiancé hates twitter on a couple of occasions I’ve forgotten to switch my mobile to silent overnight and my American twittering friends have given us a nice midnight update. It’s inevitable you’ll have friends in different time zones so it’s worth bearing in mind when it is your sending your twitter.

Avoid being Meta – some of the most annoying messages that come via twitter are about twitter. I’m using the services too, so I know when the IM service is down. If everyone in your contact list lets you know when there’s a problem in the system you’ll be inundated especially with a service as flaky as twitter.

Don’t get distracted – It’s easy when you are trying to make a big splash online to try and do too many things at once. If you are blogging, podcasting, twittering and what ever other latest technique you can get your hands on, you might find you’re not really doing any of them justice. It’s best to master one that experiment with them all.

About Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman is a Search Engine & Social Media Marketer for Site Visibility and you can read more of his blog posts for Apple Pie & Custard at

  • Michael

    Personally I prefer Jaiku, it might not have the user base yet but the functionality is much better and more reliable!

  • I think twitter is somewhat useful. I view it as a browser-like AIM away message that hits a larger audience.

  • It’s really interesting seeing the different uses it is being used for. I haven’t seen any bands or club nights using it yet but it seems like the perfect tool for them.

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