A lot has been said, written and discussed about the use of Twitter as a tool for marketing (for the uninitiated Twitter is a micro-blogging service where you can send/receive 140 character long posts, called as tweets. You can tweet using cell phones also, and people can follow your tweets). After blogs and social networking, it is considered as the next big thing for viral/buzz marketing. Sony’s viral game for movie Terminator Salvation (where users use twitter for resistance squadrons in order to fight the machines) is one example of a successful viral marketing campaigns using Twitter. You will find a “Follow us on Twitter” link on a significant number of commercial websites these days.
However, when Psychologist Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire decided to use twitter for a study on physic behaviour , it was the first instance of the communication platform being used for scientific research. He used twitter to contact remote participants and try to know if they can physically identify a distant location. More than 7000 people participated in the study.
Although the study proved that nothing called as physic remote viewing exists, but I believe that it contributed much more to science that this. More than the end results, it was the use of twitter which had raised curiosity towards the experiment.
Another avenue where twitter is finding its use is collaborative opinion building. (J&J got a taste of it when one of ads for the product Motrin had to be withdrawn and an apology issued, due to an outpouring of negative tweets from offended mothers.) Comcast, one of the largest cable and internet service providers in the US, uses Twitter to connect with customers and answer their questions in real time. This results in a much more personalized service than any pre-formulated FAQ can provide. And many more companies are following.
Barak Obama used Twitter, along with other social networking platforms, to connect to his followers. He has more than 130,000 followers (much ahead of John MaCain’s 700,000 followers), and was 5th in ranking for the highest number of followers. (Actor Aston Kutcher tops the list).
During the Mumbai terror attacks, twitter played an important role in spreading news. More than 80 tweets were being sent every 5 seconds and were providing regular updates on the happenings. It helped in mobilizing volunteers for blood donation and exchange of important information like emergency numbers, etc. Platforms like twitter can play a crucial role in rescue and relief operations in disasters likes earthquake/floods etc.
Short and simple, yet very powerful, the potential usage of Twitter is limitless. Happy Tweeting!!