Twitter, as social media tools go, is one of the most extensible platforms around, which is likely why it is so confusing to new users. Recently they redesigned their user pages to resemble Facebook (So the uninitiated will have an easier time getting used to the platform).

Increasingly brands are using Twitter for triage, to push “breaking” news, and to gather feedback from highly engaged users.

Why this matters

It will take time for Twitter to see the high adoption rates of an FB or LinkedIn, because its use case is so different. You don’t have to become a Twitter user to see a company’s tweets, which is a good thing. Twitter is for meeting and greeting, maintaining the Gladwellian loose-tie. As the platform increases its support for emoji, gifs, and other forms of image-based communication it will grow in popularity.

What brands can do

Brands that want to win the coming Twitter wars (for user attention [note Kit-Kat vs. Oreo]), and they are coming, will need to find the Twitter niche most appropriate for their core products. If your products are intangible, think about using the tool for thought-leadership. If you sell physical products, don’t just banally push ads and promos (lazy advertising), highlight the use of your products in the real world. If you sell services, consider using Twitter for triage/customer service.

As a platform, Twitter is young, 2 years younger than Facebook and 3 years younger than LinkedIn, in tech-speak this represents eons. Explore the many use cases of Twitter and see how competitors are engaging their audiences…and don’t be afraid to talk to your competitors on social media. Though it sometimes gets ugly, if done well, it’s likely to be seen as a sign of confidence in your brand and its offerings, but at all costs, beware the bots!

Beware of the bots!

If you didn’t know, Twitter robots are a thing, an increasingly popular type of Twitter account that automates engagement by tweeting (often in a loop) inspirational quotes, complete gibberish, or even the entire cannon of the English language. While these accounts seem like fringe occurrences, brands are sometimes duped into interacting with them. Be careful out there, Twitter can be a weird place.

Prediction

Twitter will continue to increase in popularity among users, albeit much more slowly than other popular social media platforms. Its 140 character limit has some cultural limitations, additionally it will take time for users to adjust to the many uses of Twitter and the fact that most people really don’t need to tweet for Twitter to be useful.

And So On

Having asked around the water cooler, most casual users I know use twitter to see if the train is running on time, to get the latest news, or to determine if that smoke is, in fact, from a near by fire, and not just some inept neighbor with a new grill.

I want to know, what do you use Twitter for? @americangauche