By this point you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of Twitter. Everyone from Oprah to CNBC has spent time talking about the microblogging system and its phenomenal growth. A far fewer percentage of people seem to understand the utility of the service. Certainly the controversy surrounding the Iran elections and twitter’s utility have explained it to some. Regardless of this, most still seem to think of it as a place full of narcissists eager to tell you how much they enjoyed something trivial like their last sandwich. I’m not here to explain it’s purpose and power, but explain why something that most consider small keeps generating big coverage.
It requires a basic understanding of Internet users. The vast majority of people that use the internet are content consumers. Sites are built to make this group of users be able to consume content easily. On the other side, there’s a small percentage that create content. Some are professionals, but the vast majority of creators toil in relative anonymity, but continue to produce. These are the folks that create reviews at sites like citysearch and comment on newspaper stories. They are, virtually by definition, incredibly eager to share their thoughts.
These content creators are the most vital and active Twitter users. They see the power of the system to push out their message, and are eager to defend its virtue. Twitter can provide a megaphone for content creators of prior obscurity, and further amplify the voice of a loud organization or celebrity. Since psychographically they are the same as blog commenters, they aren’t afraid to provide input into any article written about their new soap box. This creates activity and action on sites that write about twitter. It creates a cycle, which is self reinforcing.
Oddly enough, it doesn’t yet matter if the masses adopt it. It will, as the ability to push a message to the masses is what is attractive in the first place. But for generating hype, it doesn’t matter.
There’s a lot that any business can learn here. Your best customers are your most powerful advocates. Make it easy to share your message and they will. Also, never forget the value you are giving to your best customers. Twitter provides value by giving a voice, and their best customers repay them by returning the favor in hype. Nothing is more viral than that.