Microblogs had really arrived when this excruciatingly verbose colleague started using twitter to coordinate on projects, says a software professional from Mumbai, with a grin. IT saves us all a lot of time, all that needs to be done is keying in 140 characters instead of her usual 1,000 word emails.
Concise is exactly what microblogging is bout. Microblogging services such as Twitter, Yammer and (closer to home) DilKholKebol are basically tiny versions of blogs with restrictions if using just about 140 characters to communicate. Besides, these tiny blog-lets are accessible both on the internet as well the mobile phone, making the medium omnipresent.
Microblogging initially started as a casual communication phenomenon where people used these services to share mundane details such as having coffee at Café Coffee day, spending time with friends at the mall or cooking pasta for dinner. But over time, it has evolved into a short but a more meaningful mode of communication for keeping in touch, posting observations, coordinating with colleagues on projects, networking real time with similar minded people and even for promoting our work.
What’s making this medium tick is the fact that one needs to be interesting and succinct at the same time. So you need to have something of substance to say to make people listen. For instances, when companies tweet (twitter, message) they can’t be annoying and self aggrandizing like in the usual advertising mediums because people will simply stop listening to you and you can’t afford that. After all, where else will you find a medium that gives you access to customers in real time? Microblogging as a medium, however, is far from evolved with Indian companies. The only ones that currently make good use of the medium are startups and the one man outfits. On the other hand, celebrities and publications definitely seem to have made a head start with this medium. Be it cricketers. Bollywood stars, politicians and even some company’s heads – microblog streams are bursting on the internet in a big way.
But if you thought only celebrities were using tweets then think again. One hairstylist also recently started communicating with clients about new schemes and such over twitter. And it works brilliantly for her since she can start offers on a spur of the moment. For instance, only recently one individual benefited from following her hairstylist on the microblog. It was a slow moving day so the hairstylist offered a 30% discount and it happened to be a free afternoon for a consultant so he went right ahead to the hair stylist.
Real time is one reason why microblogging is also starting to evolve as a medium of coordinating with colleagues. Unlike other means of communications these messages are very quick to read, write and replies are optional additionally you don’t need to take the headache of deleting these if you don’t want to sue them. Moreover, people can look at these posts as and when they come in or just read them in batches thus making life simpler for everyone.
It is also helping bring real time synchronizations between teams in some stray cases. Say, the marketing team needed to quickly check a technical detail during a conversation with a client so he can simply leave a quick microblog to check who is free at that particular time and whoever is free in the office ca reply. Chat is good for quick one-to-one messages, but micro-blogging is better if you have to have one to many messages.
It’s a good idea, however to keep these concise messages devoid of any confidential information.
Microblogging has also become great for networking with the like minded. There are groups interested in a cause or a particular topic which you can choose to follow. By carefully selecting which people or companies you like to track, you can tailor a stream of real time news that will suit your taste. This makes it a much better way over the usual subscriptions based news updates. You can even connect/network with people who have very similar life or business goals or in real time using microblogs which can help you strike up instant business opportunities. Microblogs will also give you quick look at the random snippets of the live conversations happening in your city location giving you updates on the local goings-on.
These are also brilliant sources to find out about the current hot topics catching the collective attention span of people all around the world. In a way these can also turn into your peephole into the current happenings simply type a term in the search box on Twitter (search twitter.com) to check on any topic under the sun.
But then again, moderation is important to exercise in the case of microblogs too. You could get hooked. With continuous snippets of information, musings, observations and interesting insights coming out in bursts you could easily lose focus of time and place. But even with all its flaws, microblogging in many ways is finally starting to deliver on the real time promise of the internet.