A Tweet-eat-Blog world

When over 150 geeks gathered at Buzz 140, the recent Twitter Unconference conducted by the Knowledge Foundation in Chennai, they didn’t realise that the largest gathering of Twitter folk in India had the same concerns.

            One: Twitterbugs had eaten into their blog statistics.

Not only did the frequency of updating their blog come down after taking to Twitter, the number of hits on their blog too took a hit.

“Traffic has gone down by about 50 per cent,” says Kiruba (@Kiruba on Twitter), one of India’s most-known bloggers and one of the early birds who took to Twitter in the country. “Because by the time it takes you to make one post, you would’ve already updated your status five times.”

            Two: Men seem to be doing it more.

India today has about 6.5 lakh unique Twitter users. According to a study by ViziSense, nearly four out of five Twitter users in India are male. Hence, it was no surprise that hardly 15 per cent of the turnout at Buzz 140 was female.

“Maybe women find 140 characters too little to express what they are up to,” laughs Kausikram (@Kausikram on Twitter) “Or maybe they haven’t embraced technology yet,” he adds.

A study conducted by Harvard Business School recently observed that around the world, women account for 55 per cent of the users. So why are Indian women Twitter-shy?

The same Harvard study may offer an insight. The study notes that women do not like to follow men they do not know and mostly it’s men who end up following men.

            Three: Social Media could help you build a brand, protect it or ruin it.

As Aishwarya Rao (@AishwaryaRao on Twitter) explains with a presentation: “Twitter is becoming the ideal tool to brand your company, product or for that matter… yourself. Your conversations and interactions will play a role in branding yourself.”

Not only is social media helping to build a brand but also is being used effectively for preserving brand goodwill. Like the “Kiruba incident” as Cleartrip.com refers to the episode.

Due to a combination of factors, Kiruba nearly missed his flight after booking a ticket on Cleartrip and put it up as his Twitter status, forcing the authorities to take notice and explain their side of the story. Cleartrip went on to make amends by upgrading Kiruba and his wife to business class to make up for the confusion.

“A lot of corporates haven’t yet learned to use social media effectively,” says Kiruba, adding that posting links alone will not drive traffic to their site. Though users don’t mind being followed, they would never follow promotional accounts.

            Four: Twitter could get you into trouble.

“Do not bad-mouth your employers or clients on Twitter,” says Kausikram, referring to the Connor episode that cost a guy his job when his future employers found out that Connor had already started talking about going to hate his job even before he could join the company.

            Five: Do your updates have character?

Your Twitter feed is only as interesting as you are. And vice-versa. Tweeting too many times during the day or rarely posting may discourage followers. Twitter users appreciate brevity. “Buzz 140 had a live Twitter feed projected during the Unconference so that the speaker knew exactly how his presentation was being received,” says Kiruba.

If you have nothing interesting to say, join a discussion by picking a Trending Topic and make sure you hashtag your tweet with the topic chosen.

            Six: Not everything on Twitter is true.

Though Twitter has been instrumental in empowering the grapevine and facilitating news breaks, not all that you hear from social media is instantly verifiable. Hence, make sure you do not retweet an update if you are unable to verify the news. Especially if it’s sensitive in nature. Just take it with a pinch of salt and wait for confirmation from official channels. Or you might become the boy who cried Wolf.

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