Image via CrunchBaseOne of the coolest web 2.0 tools I've come across this year is Twitter. It's a microblooging platform that operates on the web cloud. You can follow and be followed by a variety of interesting people from friends, to cancer patients, scientists, tech geeks and business people to CEO's. Everyone communicates by posting micro-blogs, i.e. sentences of 140 characters or less into the cloud.
What's the point of it, you may ask? Is it an echo chamber?
Well yes, it is an echo chamber to a certain extent, but some limited conversations to ensue back and forth and often lead to stronger connections offline by email or telephone. The real value in it though, from a business perspective, is as a knowledge management database.
The point for me, is that if I follow smart and interesting people, I learn faster and gather a lot of information from new blogs, news, websites, bookmarks etc that people post as interesting links than I would otherwise have the time for on my own. Twitter provides a useful filter for fascinating information that is shared and absorbed on a subconscious level. For me, the more noise, the better and the bigger the database you can research.
So how do you find relevant information?
Using #hashtags for certain events such as conferences or topics (e.g. knowledge management or #km) allows people to track pertinent information when using the search function within Twitter across the whole Twitterverse lifestream.
You can also type in simple keywords such as the Presidential candidates names, companies or products you might be interested in and review the data generated in the search. At first, the Public stream might seem like a lot of noise, but using keywords for your search allows you to parse it for critical and useful information.
Lilly's recent purchase of ImClone is a case in point. After ImClone rebuffed their Erbitux partners, BMS, you could follow opinions and thoughts on both deals using Twitter search. Kinda cool, especially if you followed the cloud in real time by piping an RSS feed of the searches into your Google Reader for digesting and evaluating.
Recently I was interested in a recently approved drug and wondered kind of reaction it was getting. Searching on Twitter yielded some early signs of side effects and clincial trials in other cancers. Very useful stuff.
Meanwhile, I have yet to see conservative Pharma or Biotechnology companies latch onto the value of Twitter, but a number of smart mainstream companies such as Dell, Comcast, Wholefoods and Zappos already have either their employees or the company piping information out to the public. It's a great way to communicate with their customers, solve problems, get feedback, improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Are you on Twitter? If not, give it a try, you may be surprised. Oh, and you can always follow me by clicking on the Twitter button on the side 😉