140 Characters

When Twitter first launched and I heard it had a character limitation I thought “how can users say ANYTHING meaningful in 140 characters?” Originally, Twitter seemed best suited to following celebrities and letting followers know what you were doing – serving a limited (not to mention easily duplicated) function at best.

Though it may have been slow to catch on, Twitter has evolved into something much bigger.

In business to business publishing, “news trackers” have become increasingly common to provide customers with relevant, timely information, with short headlines that help users filter what they do and do not want to read in greater depth. As the need for content on mobile devices has increased, limitations to the amount of content people want to view on their phones has pushed publishers to adopt a similar model to Twitter’s character limitations.

Today, even Twitter is used more as an information source than it is as a way to keep track of specific people. Rather than follow Chris Brogan to know what he had for lunch, we follow him for the the valuable knowledge and information to which he can connect us.

An evolution in the way Twitter is used has seemingly revolutionized the way that we filter information.

Giving Them What They Want

As companies search for what online strategies will work best, it’s becoming increasingly critical that they give thought to how they’re providing value to their target customer groups.

Static websites are no longer the answer. The ease of content production online has shifted the marketing landscape, in a sense, making us all publishers. Websites that are not regularly updated with new content give visitors no reason to return. Providing real-time value through online channels should now be an important part of any company’s approach to building a presence online.

Social media platforms have taken content production a step further, providing a tool for content organization. For example, think of Twitter as a personal content manager. If a person wants only to be updated on information related to the Olympics, they follow only those people that provide Olympic related content through their tweets. If they find someone they’re following isn’t providing them value, they can stop following them. The user controls the content with which they are updated.

From a company’s perspective, Twitter acts as a link to the value they’re providing online. If they don’t provide the value people are looking for, people will stop following them.

What’s valuable to one person may be completely irrelevant to another.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the number of people that follow us is far less important than who follows us. Content must be developed to attract the group of customers most likely to purchase your product or service. If you’re a meat shop, it doesn’t matter how many vegetarians recognize your brand. Providing value to your target customers must be your primary focus.