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  • HT Tech4U focuses on What Blogging Did Next. My piece “Micro-blogging, anyone?” – also the longer, unedited version.

  • HT Tech4U focuses on What Blogging Did Next. My piece “Micro-blogging, anyone?” – also the longer, unedited version.

    HT Tech4U focuses on What Blogging Did Next. My piece “Micro-blogging, anyone?” – also the longer, unedited version.


    Today’s Hindustan Times Tech4U page focuses on “What Blogging Did Next” and features 2 main pieces on the subject.
    In the first piece, titled Hum Blog, Twilight Fairy of Delhi Bloggers Bloc talks about the blogging scene in general and Delhi in particular, online and offline.
    The second piece, written by me talks about Twitter.
    You can find the newspaper version here.
    My longer, unedited version, is below. Choose whichever, but do leave your thoughts:
    “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the most viral of them all?” I asked.
    “Twitter, O dear sir!” answered the magic mirror without doubt.
    Twitter , the service that lets you stay connected with friends, colleagues and family through exchange of short message updates, sharing “what are you doing right now?” has achieved almost cult following among its users, many of whom are celebrity bloggers and internet influencers from across the globe.
    So what really is Twitter?
    I could tell you that Twitter is a micro-blogging platform (messages can contain a maximum of 140 characters) and a social networking site (connect with and friends and make new ones). I could also say that it is blogging on the go and lets you disseminate and receive messages using the web interface, an internet messenger/ desktop client or your mobile phone. All of these are correct.
    However, think of it as a café, people keep coming, conversations are perpetually on, someone leaves, and someone else joins in. You chat with your friends and acquaintances regularly and ever so often you also meet one of their friends. You join into their conversations and make new friends in the process. Someone you didn’t know earlier reaches out to connect; you do the same when you want to reach out. This café is virtual, but the people are real and they do meet up often – at work, at parties, at Tweet ups (offline group meets of Tweople, or Twitter users).
    Like someone said so beautifully on a Social Media Today podcast “Twitter is like talking to friends on way back home from school, reading their blogs is like reading their homework.” No wonder Twitterholics prefer Twittering over even singing ;).
    But what makes Twitter so special, so viral?
    To understand this, it’s important to understand the genesis of Twitter for the service is based on some powerful insights:

    1. The Always on internet environment has less dependency and focus on a web page and that the desktop, widgets, IM are gaining importance.
    2. Mobile is quickly becoming the ubiquitous converged device and is increasingly married to the internet.
    3. Bloggers, already addicted to posting, were/ are looking for ways to disseminate content quickly, on the go and without having to spend a long time in crafting it. That they were/ are also looking at ways to share their content across multiple platforms.
    4. Successful services will be those, which allows users to find unique and multiple uses for the service and that to do so, it would be important to:
      – Becoming the enabling layer
      – Allow other developers to use the Application Programming Interface (API)
      – Create a network but also use other networks to reach larger mass of users/ consumers

    The result is a service that lets you use its web interface to push the message, but you could have easily have used your G Talk client or simply sms’d the message instead, using your handset to now an India short-code (5566511).
    The moment you did so, the message would be received by people ‘following’ your feed, on their preferred device – mobile handset, IM, or simply their Twitter web-page. You could, similarly, get their messages if you too were following them.
    Powerful, you’d agree, but it doesn’t end here. You could display yours and your friends’ messages on your blog using a Twitter widget, let the message be seen as your status update on Facebook (which is where more and more of your friends are) and so on. Add to this many dozens applications and mash-ups developed by 3rd party developers (find them at here) and you have one of the most visible and sticky service on the internet today.
    So how are people using Twitter? Honestly, new uses are coming up every minute. Here are a few:

    1. Vibrant Conversations: with friends on internet, technology, brands & marketing, movies, recipes, politics and what have you. You can address anyone using @username, they can reply back by doing the same.
    2. Breaking news – gone are the days when news breaking on electronic media. First it was blogs, now in many cases, it is Twitter, from where it quickly finds its way into blogs and mainstream media.
    3. Live blogging/ broadcast – people are twittering from events and conferences to broadcast happenings, reaching multiple platforms in real time. Abhishek Bakshi (@baxiabhishek), for example, has done so for Mix08 keynote and MVP Summit.
    4. Research your stories and gather facts & figures, quotes, links through other users. Many bloggers and journalists are effectively using Twitter for story ideas and research. I did the same for this story and got inputs on innovative and unique uses of Twitter from many users, whom I have quoted here.
    5. Quick help and feedback – on any subject really. It is one of friendliest and welcoming communities you’ve seen.
    6. Market your website and blog posts – share RSS feeds by using one of the applications and a link and preview is generated automatically. Many users regularly build conversations around recent posts to promote their blogs/ stories – I suggest moderate use for this purpose, to avoid being labeled spammer/ attention seeker.
    7. Crowd Sourcing – people are using collective intelligence of other users to come with best-of solutions. A recent example is Guy Kawasaki of Garage Ventures ( @guykawasaki ) using Twitter extensively to gather information on sites suitable for inclusion on his new venture All Top which aggregates best of websites/ blogs in a dashboard view, by subject/ region.
    8. Event Promotion – disseminate invitation/ information regarding event, generate buzz, live blogging (as above), share pictures/ videos/ presentations, post event conversations and networking – phew. Ask @twilightfairy, she uses Twitter to effectively promote blogger meets and Tweet ups.
    9. Help during crises – The latest update from Biz Stone, founder of Twitter shares this powerful story “a graduate student in journalism from the University of California-Berkeley who was arrested last month in Mahalla, Egypt while covering an anti-government protest. Thinking quickly, James was able to send a one-word Twitter update: “Arrested.” His followers in Egypt and back in the US reacted by contacting the university and the consulate on his behalf. Before long, James was updating Twitter with another one-word message, “Free.””
    10. Politics 2.0 – Barack Obama (@barackObama) is the highest ‘followed’ user on Twitter. Early days for India, though live blogging from the parliament will surely make great entertainment?.
    11. Just for Fun – a random update from me, late evening, sometime last week “Sindhi Kadhi + Rice = Heaven” generated immediate response from not just Twitter but also Facebook friends (my status updates are linked to my Tweets and get automatically updated every time I write anything on Twitter). People were writing in from Bangalore, Delhi, Switzerland asking me to share the recipe, which I did over a few dozen Tweets. Soon more people joined the conversation over private messages, Facebook and email. Lots of thank you messages followed and many promised to try the recipe. A couple of them have, in fact, already done so – yes, it was fun and I might just do it again sometime. Not to be tried recklessly for fears of being termed spammer.

    Just a few more innovative uses, it would impossible to list all:

    1. Link archive like @shankarshanm and @shashankjaitely do often.
    2. Find travel friends like Balaji Sowmyanarayan @labsji seems to suggest.
    3. People are sharing traffic alerts. See @mumbaitraffic.

    Other than those above, can be relevant for organisations, here are a few things that organisations/ marketers can try:

    1. Corporates can use for easy and fast communication on the go, between
      – Internal project teams
      – Designated crisis management teams
    2. A boon for media companies
      – Broadcast updates
      – Progamme schedules
      – Links to previews/ video uploads on their websites/ You Tube
    3. Marketers can:
      – Research –try tools like Tweetscan and Tweetvolume
      – Engage for feedback – can be an open or closed group
      – Share updates and meaningful offers
      – Create communities

    If you are a marketer though, how do you get people to follow your updates or become members of your community? There is no one size fits all answer and the only suggestion I could give is: don’t think ‘my brand’, don’t think sell; think value to USERS, think engagement. No one is interested in being spammed with marketing messages, not here. Make Twitter a part of your social media mix, instead of using it in isolation. In fact there are also several other mobile communities, like SMS Gupshup, that are beginning to gain traction and could be worthy of consideration for marketers.
    So is this the end of blogging as we know it? Far from it, blogging is gaining ground. However, a few things have changed and will continue to change. Blogging will perhaps not be the preferred means of sharing thoughts for the masses – it doesn’t need to be as most, if not all, of their sharing and networking needs get met by social networking platforms. Blogs are becoming the means for more purposeful expression and bloggers will use tools like Twitter and others to further multiply their reach and for research purposes.
    Similarly, will Twitter go mass? Perhaps not – most/ all needs for status updates of a regular person are also met by social networking sites. So why would you be on Twitter? If you are an influencer or are looking for them – that would be a good reason.

    Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.

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