One of my good high-school friends signed up for Facebook last week.
Yes, the same Facebook that, had you listened to the digerati, has jumped the shark.
But Facebook hasn’t jumped the shark. It’s still becoming more popular and adding more features. Facebook may have jumped the shark for the kinds of people who have to try every social networking service in its alpha-invite-only stage, but it certainly hasn’t for everyday people.
It’s great to have friends who are pushing the envelope, and to be with people who are willing to try new things. I love my digerati friends. But we cannot lose sight of what the average person is doing.
When I say non-wired, I don’t mean someone without a mobile phone, computer or the Internet. But I mean people who don’t live and breathe Web 2.0. In fact, they probably don’t read Wired magazine, and isn’t that the ultimate barometer of one’s wiredness?
Let’s look at Twitter as a good example. If you just listened to bloggers and the digerati you would think that Twitter is the hottest thing going today on the Web. Oh wait, it’s jumped the shark because of frequent outages recently.
In reality, Twitter has less than 2 million users in the world. In many ways, Twitter isn’t even mainstream, let alone clones like Pownce. In comparison, Facebook has more than 70 million active users.
My friend is like the majority of Americans — high school diploma, has a computer with Internet, uses a mobile phone but doesn’t have a blog, probably doesn’t know what the hell Web 2.0 is supposed to mean (does anyone, really?) and probably has no interest in joining Twitter.
Ultimately, we have to build products that not only interest people on the cutting edge, but that also provide functionality that average person can and will want to use everyday.
For my friend, the time was right to join Facebook because its functionality made sense for him. I don’t think he’ll be joining Twitter (or FriendFeed) anytime soon.
The No. 4 source of traffic to the JI is Twitter.
And yet, I’ve only been a serious user of Twitter for a few months. The traffic this blog gets from Traffic seems to grow by the week. Anyone in the content business needs to realize what a traffic boon Twitter can be.
But, as I’ve said before, the best way to get meaningful traffic from Twitter is to engage in a two-way conversation. Pushing headlines onto Twitter is a really poor use of the technology, and much worse than an RSS feed. I have Google Reader for the RSS feeds I want to subscribe to.
Twitterholic has the top 100 Twitter users by followers. Very few Mainstream Media members are represented, and yet many individual bloggers and new media mavens have managed to attract thousands of followers. Twitter is a fantastic brand-building experience for those Twitter users.
I’ll leave you with this thought from ReporTwitter:
Journalists that Twitter personally about their professional lives know first hand, as do many bloggers, that Twitter is all about conversation. The potential is huge for driving noticeable traffic to websites by actively Twittering about what you’re writing about.
Here is the original Twitter can drive traffic post.
If you’re on the fence about signing up for Twitter, know this: Twitter can drive traffic to your site.
This blog is less than a year old. I’m 23 years old — hardly an established brand or identity. That’s why I only have a little more than 100 people following me on Twitter.
But Twitter drives traffic to my blog every day, and on some days it is the top non-search engine referrer to my site. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers, Twitter is very viral.
Let’s say I make a new tweet on Twitter about a new blog post. People read it and like it, and then they post that they are reading it on Twitter as well.
Some of their friends find my post through their tweets and then decide that they are going to tweet about my blog post too. And it continues. Suddenly, people who have never read my blog or knew I was even on Twitter are coming to my blog.
All with little work on my part. Now if Twitter drives traffic to my blog, imagine what Twitter could do for a large, established brand.
The secret to getting Twitter to drive traffic is to be interesting. Most news organizations have missed this point. Most news organizations use Twitter accounts to just list their most recent headlines.
Boring. Twitter is not a repurposing tool. It’s a conversation.
The most popular people on Twitter have a brand that people want to know more about. The New York Times Twitter account has about 2,400 followers. Not bad, but blogger Robert Scoble has more than 14,000 followers.
CNN has about 2,100 followers, while venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki has more than 6,500 followers. The major mistake that both the Times and CNN make is that they simply use Twitter as a headline feed. But Twitter is about conversations, not one-way pronouncements.
Before I make a Twitter post, I often talk about what I am writing about, why I am writing it and just give my general thoughts. People can then ask me questions or make comments. It’s a public conversation.
In fact, many times you’ll see me working through my thought process on Twitter before making a blog post. But it gets more people interested in my content. In fact, Twitter is a fantastic brand-building tool.
The Times probably doesn’t see a big traffic bump from 2,400 followers, but an individual like Scoble probably sees a lot of traffic originating from Twitter. Scoble is much more popular on Twitter than the Times or CNN because he uses Twitter as it was meant to be used.
So, how can news organizations use Twitter to generate traffic? First, news organization could begin using Twitter to have conversations about stories they are covering. Imagine a public page 1 meeting, where people can ask questions.
A page 1 concept could be very popular with users. Anyone at the Times who writes a blog or column should have a Twitter account where they share opinions 140 characters at a time. Employees must also be willing to interact with people on Twitter too.
Twitter is also a great way to cover live events in new ways. Many events are not broadcast, and those are good events to Twitter. Heck a reporter could even use Twitter to cover a local government meeting, and then use the tweets to write a full-fledged story.
I’ve done this before, and Twitter works pretty well as a note-taking tool. Plus, it gets people more involved in the process. All without any extra work on my part.
If you use Twitter as merely another one-way conversation tool, it will be nothing more than a really poor version of RSS. But if you use Twitter as the two-way communication tool that it is, not only will you be able to drive traffic, but you’ll most likely be able to discover new readers and users.