“I don’t want to use Twitter. I don’t care that some starlet is buying socks at Walmart.” If you’ve made this comment about using Twitter — or let loose another, similar slam — let us old-timers suggest 4 scenarios where you can get useful information from Twitter and no place else.
Scenario 1 — We were driving north on I5 a few miles north of Corning, California. Suddenly the traffic stopped. Dead. We joined a very slow crawling line of traffic that was solid as far as we could see. The passenger picked up his iPhone and searched Twitter for “I5”. Within seconds he located a raft of Tweets from other cars on the same stretch of road. Scrolling through these, he read several that referred to an overturned truck off the side of the road about a mile ahead. We inched ahead for the next mile, until we saw the truck, Highway Patrol, and the whole accident scene. What Twitter provided: an accurate traffic report in the middle of nowhere, in a spot far away from media coverage. During the holidays you can also search Twitter for reports on shopping center parking lots and other micro-traffic matters.
Scenario 2 — A client’s telephone system blew a power supply. Incoming calls were not being answered, even though the staff was in the office available to meet with clients. The client posted a Tweet about their problem and invited his customers to email or drop in. This Twitter message was picked up by a feed and reposted to his Facebook page. What Twitter provided: an alternative path to keep communications going when the phones were out.
Scenario 3 — We follow (which means that we automatically get copies of the postings) only a few people. People who post things we want to see flash in front of us when we’re already busy. We follow:
* ASavvyConsumer who posts interesting tips on buying things and, right now, surviving the holidays.
* San Francisco accountants an Ozdachs client whose Tweets often tell us new information on handling our money.
* A software supplier who announces fixes, new products, and tips
… and other organizations we belong to and industry gurus .
What Twitter provided: quick updates and links to more information on topics we’ve already selected.
Scenario 4 — We attended a business conference with competing break-out seminars, many of which were repeated at different times over the three-day convention. Other participants posted on Twitter comments on some of the hot presentations, and we altered our schedule to catch later sections of the topic or other classes by good presenters. What Twitter provided: Real-time user evaluations which helped us get the most from our business event.
These real-world adult (and mostly business) Twitter benefits don’t involve monitoring the sports stars’ progression through bars, the shopping habits of the glitterati, nor the momentary angst of our friends. The Twitter posts we read relate to our adult world just as the Tweets monitored by teenagers relate to their current concerns.
Twitter accommodates young adult and other adult equally. It’s a neutral media that serves up a banquet of information of our own selection. Older people join in just as enthusiastically as a wide-eyed youth.
We each will probably pick different information to extract from the social news cloud. But, don’t we do that anyway in our choice of TV networks to watch, newspapers to subscribe to, or blogs to read?