This week I've been working to understand the Twitter community and how it can help small companies like Makaboo. I have to be honest: so far I'm not so sure.
My friend and Makaboo's fabulous visual designer Angela Cross was the first person to explain Twitter in a way that made sense to me: in a sentence, she said she uses Twitter to connect with people she doesn't know, versus Facebook, which she uses to connect with friends and family.
Ahah! OK! But as soon as it made sense, I said "Why? Why do you want to connect with people you don't even know?" That's where things get more complicated.
Twitter makes it incredibly easy to find people who seem to have similar interests; I'm currently being followed by 180 - no, 181! - people, most of whom appear to be moms with young kids and an interest in either technology, kids' gear or both. But as soon as I started establishing these connections, it became apparent that many folks on Twitter are on for a commerical purpose (like me), and that for most, that reason is advertising (sort of like me).
If Twitter is just a community of advertisers, are we really ever going to buy anything from each other? Just because I'm following/being followed by moms doesn't mean they'll automatically be interested in what Makaboo has to offer. And even if they are interested, it doesn't mean that they'll be partial to our particular style of personalization or our user experience.
It's also clear that at the moment Twitter is still being used by a very small sub-set of the population. Diane Rehm mentions Twitter daily on her NPR show, which has a weekly audience of 1.7 million - and yet she has only 5,275 Twitter followers.
Most web-savvy folks I know say to do Twitter because it's free, not too time intensive, and can't hurt. So far, all of that seems to be true. I'll be interested to see if that remains the case.
You can of course follow me @cindyteasdale (because someone's squatting on Makaboo - but that's a whole other post).
UPDATE: you can now follow us out at https://twitter.com/MakabooGifts