I've added a word to one of last week's posts. The word was "nearly". The reason I added the word is because I don't think that David Jakes (or myself) had considered two very important levels of Twitter, deep-rooted in its use.
The Emotional Level of Twitter
People become obsessed with Twitter because there appears to be a difficult-to-explain emotional connection that Twitter users feel toward the people they follow. This connection is only amplified if the following is mutual. Furthermore, this connection seems to be more powerful than was ever obtainable through blogging alone, adding a far more personal, human aspect to online interaction than ever before.
- Possibly, the nearly-synchronous nature of Twitter helps to forge this emotional connection.
- Twitter's 140-character limit may also contribute to the development of emotional connection. It's a game, you know, that Twitter users are all forced to play. In playing this game (called: "Say It Clever/Complete/Well in 140 Characters") we all grow closer together. The network that plays together stays together.
- Twitter's habitual break-downs may actually help its popularity. I know I feel closer to people with whom I've experienced mutual hardship.
The Commercial Level of Twitter
Twitter has become one of the best customer service tools that I've ever seen. Consider the following "conversation" in which I was engaged by simply stating my opinion to those that follow me on Twitter:
Because my posts to Twitter are publicly viewable, a simple scan (for the word 'wikispaces', for example) will potentially yield a view of something I have said. Consequently, Twitter user jbyers gets a brief (140-character) view of my angst and offers his reply.
James Byers, by the way, is the founder of wikispaces.
Now, I doubt that this commercial level of Twitter was ever foreseen by Twitter's creators. Nonetheless, it should be considered as a possible way for Twitter to gain the revenue needed to sustain growth. Not only is Twitter Customer Service™ free and open, but in successful use it creates an emotional bond between the customer and the company (see above topic).
Do you think I'll use wikispaces more now, given that I've actually "spoken" with (who I thought was) the company's founder? You bet your wiki-twitter-spaces I will.
In the end, I hope for nothing less than success for Twitter and its users. Furthermore, I hope that the folks behind Twitter can constructively find the answer to a question that's been on my mind for quite some time now:
- What happens to Twitter when someone that's actually popular begins to use it?