Another day, another Tweetup. Well, sorta, but I’m now a veteran of the gatherings of folks who meet on the Internet networking site.
I had fun last night (7/8/09) at an Atlanta restaurant. And I think such Tweetups, which happen everywhere, do show how people of various backgrounds communicate and rendezvous these days.
First, let’s put things in perspective. Twitter is getting lots of buzz these days. Newspapers, which are struggling mightily because of the Internet, are writing about Twitter, Facebook, etc., like crazy. This past week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a story about pro golfer Stewart Cink and his “tweets.”
CNN has a daily news show hosted by Rick Sanchez that highlights the entire social media spectrum. Sanchez regularly reads and displays “tweets” on the air, though anyone who uses the service should know that nothing is guaranteed to be verified before you see it online. And even ESPN is plugging in, carrying a story this week about NFL receiver Chad Ochocinco, an obnoxious Terrell Owens wannabe, and his plans to “tweet” during games this season. Hmmm, we’ll see what the commissioner thinks about that.
Of course, everyone is aware about the recent use of Twitter during and after the controversial election in Iran. Such was the protest online there over the outcome that some suggested that Twitter be nominated for the Nobel Prize.
However, just how mainstream is Twitter? In Iran, hard to say. How many Iranians have cell phones, mobile devices or even Internet access? In the U.S., even if there are 10 million users, how many are reliable? Even so, that pales behind the number of people in the U.S. who are on food stamps — about 30 million, or 10 percent of the population.
But the people who use Twitter are generally educated people who have money and influence. Many news organizations use it now to get breaking news out during the day. And many politicians and prominent business people use it. For them, exposure is their lifeblood.
Just last night, I was around a sales person for a Web design company, a marketing expert, and an interactive writing professional, among others. Those are the kind of people who get the attention of other advertisers and marketers.
And my personal experience shows that Twitter is gaining ground. I took another video at an Atlanta Tweetup in March, and quickly posted it on CNN’s iReport site. Well, the next day, an alert CNN.com employee, Nicole Saidi, spotted it and called me with some questions. Lo and behold, CNN.com linked to my Tweetup video in the 12th paragraph of this story. You’ll notice Stephanie Frost of www.zerogcreative.com in both of my videos, as a kind of tribute. (Updated 7/13/09: And thanks to CNN’s Henry Hanks, the newest video has landed on CNN. Check it out.)
And if you check my Twitterstream (I’m @bsteve76), you’ll see some pics that I “tweeted” live last night. (And here’s another excellent account, with videos, from last night’s event by @stephaniealloyd.)
So think of Twitter as the 21st century version of instant messaging. As the Internet changes everything from mass communications to airline reservations, it’ll change the way people make friendships and do business.