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What is Twitter for?

Back in July of 2009, Best Buy Co. Inc. launched a major advertising campaign built around its bold decision to use Twitter as a scalable customer service tool.

At the time their new service dubbed Twelpforce, boasted around 14,000 followers with their account manned by hundreds of Best Buy employees, each logged-in answering approximately 75 to 100 consumer electronics questions per day in real-time.

QUESTION: Is that what Twitter was built for?

Of course, the simple answer is – no. Twitter wasn’t built to be a customer service tool, but the minds at Best Buy looked at Twitter’s platform, its RAW application and said…. Hmmm... what if we did this? Now, were they the first to explore this possibility? Not sure, but they are the first company that comes to mind.

All this may or may not be news to you, but I have to ask... did you give it a second thought, or did it even make you stop and think when you stumbled upon a commercial or perhaps read about their new endeavor? I mean aside from saying “hey that’s a cool idea!” My guess again would be probably not.

Putting these relatively rhetorical questions aside for a moment, the thing that you really need to ask yourself is – Why not? Why didn’t something like Best Buy’s approach to Twitter make you stop and think? Is it because something like that is for big corporations? Maybe it’s because you don’t have the bandwidth or manpower to even consider using Twitter like that.


I’m not suggesting that you turn Twitter into a customer service tool for your company and copy their approach, what I’m suggesting is that you get your head out of the proverbial sand, strip Twitter, or any other platform that you use down to its bare bones as if you just had a team of developers build a customized application for you, and THINK about what you could actually do with all of its designed functionality!

Honestly, sticking with Twitter for a moment, have you ever given any serious thought, I mean really thought about what it is, what it does, or enables you to do; or did you just fall in-line when you got to the party and followed suit like everyone else? If so, that’s okay - no worries, you’re just like the other 290.5 million users out there.

Just off the top of my head, I attempted to make a short list of just some of the functionality that has been built into Twitter's platform. Let's see...

• You can create a self-defining marketable name: @YourName, @YourCompany, @YourBrand, @YourSpecialty @YourNiche... that is searchable by hundreds of millions of people. You can even create multiple accounts if you like.

• You have the ability to pin an important tweet to the top of your page, so it won't be missed by those who are researching what you are about.

• You can introduce yourself, your interests and strengths in a 160 character bio.

• You can provide a link to your company website, blog or latest promotion and drive traffic.

• You can search for specific people to connect with and add them to your network.

• You can send a direct message to those within your network. Based on their settings, they may get notified of your message on their phone or, in the form of an email from Twitter.

• You get instantly notified when someone has elected to follow you, retweeted or simply liked your content.

• And oh yeah – it’s free!

In addition to all of this, there are countless spinoff websites and applications that have built their model around Twitter. From sites that allow you to search Twitter bios, to applications that allow you to schedule the time of your posts in advance and tweet for you. However, with all of this laid at your feet, chances are you created an account that includes your bio, a link to your website and your photo. You follow, they follow you, you each say, “Thanks for the follow” and then you never hear from each other again. Then it’s off to the races to see who can reach 100,000 followers without any rhyme or reason or game plan in place.

Today I would like to challenge you to strip Twitter of its name, just put it aside for a moment and forget about what everyone else is using it for. Think of how these features, like Best Buy, could be tailored to suit your business model or personal needs. Remember, Twitter wasn’t designed or intended to be used as a customer service tool, but Best Buy saw it differently. Can you?

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