Remember back when everybody shared the same homepage experience, be it on AOL, Yahoo, etc? There wasn’t any personalization to the information, there was just a one-size-fits-all approach. As this was in the early days of the internet, there was hardly an understanding of what the future would hold for internet users, but it’s evident today that people have embraced the concept of having their online experiences tailored to them.
The first meaningful step in this direction occurred with the launch of iGoogle in April of 2007. iGoogle provided a framework upon which users could select modules to be included on a personalized homepage. More so than MSN or Yahoo, Google encouraged people to develop content that could be fed into the iGoogle platform, in contrast to a more restrictive philosophy adopted by Yahoo and MSN who maintained greater control over the content available.
Now we have Twitter. I’ll save for another post my thoughts on how businesses should best utilize Twitter to engage with their audiences. The point here, however is that Twitter enables people to exponentially personalize their experience online by “following” streams of tweets from individuals they are interested in hearing from and by tracking tweets on topics of interest (with saved searches, #hashtags, lists, etc.), be they pleasure, hobby or work related.
Regardless of whether you ever expect to participate in social media through tweeting, you should take advantage of the opportunity to listen to what’s going on through Twitter in a highly personalized manner.
No matter if you ever plan to “tweet”, or are active in other social media channels like Facebook or YouTube, I encourage you to sign up for a Twitter account and begin to follow some people / organizations. The reason to do this is because I believe that Twitter and whatever comes next is so dramatically different than anything before, you need to begin watching and learning. If you start paying attention now, as Twitter evolves you will have an historical perspective on what’s transpired, to appreciate and capitalize on where things are going.
A logical question would be…who should I follow? The answer would be anyone or any organization that interests you. For example, people who are leaders in your industry, places that you like to travel to, sports or sporting teams that you follow, restaurants you like, etc.
It almost doesn’t matter who you follow, because you can modify the list of people / organizations at any time. The point is that by dipping your toe in the water, long before you even think about actually tweeting yourself, that you should start watching how Twitter works. The potential uses of this real time publishing for businesses appear to be limitless and I think it will become an integral dimension of your marketing efforts in the not too distant future.