Twitter: The CB Radio of the 21st Century?

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

For the past year or so I’ve been reading about Twitter and quietly hoping it would just go away. After all, I bet in 10 years from now we’ll look back at some of these social networking Web applications as a long-forgotten fad — like the CB-radio craze of the 1970s.

In 1976, it seemed perfectly normal for someone to communicate over a radio frequency with people who used made-up names like “Metroliner” or “Uncle Pickle.”

There was a community aspect of CB-radio culture too. If you saw a patrol car up ahead, you told those sharing your frequency to look out for “smokey.”

The whole thing seems kind of silly now.

I suspected Twitter might go the way of the CB Radio because they share some of the same characteristics:

  • most people use a “handle” instead of their real name,
  • it’s perfectly acceptable to “follow” and interact with strangers,
  • the conversations are conducted without any expectation of privacy, and
  • there’s no stigma attached to those who send out overly frequent or inane messages.

Of course, I’m not the first person to notice the similarities. This ham radio enthusiast refers to Twitter as his “lifeline.”

But here’s why I’ve been giving Twitter a second look:

  • It seems like it’s gaining widespread adoption. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger launched a blog a few weeks ago called TwiTip, which focuses exclusively on Twitter. A post he wrote last weekend about influential people who use Twitter generated over 130 comments. Each comment was a list of influential people within a given niche that use Twitter.

  • It allows you to connect with smart or influential people. One of the people I’ve been following is online marketing guru Guy Kawasaki. As I expected, Kawasaki is a prolific tweeter. But to my surprise, he is actually following me.
  • Most tweets contain a link to an interesting Web site or news story.
  • You can search Twitter to find out what people are saying about you, your company, or any other subject you care about. After you identify these people you can follow them.
  • You can use Twitter to do things like post an appointment on your online calendar or update your status on Facebook.
  • Once you have enough followers, you can start using Twitter as your new Google.

To be sure, Twitter has some real limitations. The biggest of which is that messages or “tweets” must be no more than 140 characters. But I’m learning that this social technology application has more than enough going for it to overcome this deficit.

You can follow me on Twitter at b2beditor.

10-4 Good Buddy!

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