I've become a Twitter fan. My first tweet was in march 2007 - since then I had long periods when I hardly used Twitter at all, but in the past months I started to twitter more regularly - and I'm beginning to like it more and more.
It's a form of microbologging (max 140 characters) and it's addictive - but also very inspirational to follow other people with the same interests. Nowadays, I find the most interesting links, thoughts and inspiration through Twitter. It has even partly replaced my RSS feeds. I still check my feedreader, but I know the most interesting stuff will reach me faster through Twitter.
The fact you don't actually know most people on your follow list doesn't matter. (Twitter is not for the paranoid) In fact - that's part of its beauty. You might also say you don't care about irrelevant ("getting a cup of coffee") messages from people you don't really know.
But reading these tweets really gives you an impression of that person on a much more personal level.
Hype? or a new way of communication?
While Twitter seems to be hyping now, it is already 2 years old, and in time it has developed its own etiquette, and also cool tricks like hashtags and retweets. I've heard it's becoming mainstream in the US but here in Europe only the most web-savvy type of people use it.
But where can we put Twitter in the social media landscape? Someone described tweets a something that happens between blog posts. It's a fast, short and one-to-many type of communication.
In fact, an article on ReadWriteWeb (may 2007) already gave Twitter a prominent place in the evolution of communication (take a look at the graph). Now, 2 years later, we are witnessing how Twitter is actually starting to change the way we communicate.
Most notably Twitter is changing blogging. More and more often we see a Twitter button at the end of a blog post. This way uses can easily tweet about the post if they want to spread the word. But this also means part of comments on posts in now done in Twitter and not on your blog! Twitter will definitely change blog design in the future.
I'm also trying to find out how Google deals with Twitter. Do backlinks in twitter count? They are often reduced to tinyurl's but Google can handle these redirects. The issue is with the nofollow tag which is added to every link in every tweet, which stops any linkjuice flowing to your page. This is probably a good thing, otherwise Twitter would be overwhelmed by spam.
But Twitter SEO isn't useless. The goal is to reach as many people from your target group as possible. People don't care about nofollow and links in tweets can generate extra traffic. (which converts)
I also did a small experiment to find out how often Twitter indexes my tweets. At time of writing, I had a total of about 700 tweets and about 100 of the most recent ones are indexed. Also it seems Google is indexing my new tweets every day. That, of course, might vary in the same way any site's indexing interval varies.
By Googling the site with site:twitter.com we should also get a rough estimate on the number of users. Currently this results in almost 30 million pages. Almost a year ago, Techcrunch reported Twitter had 1 million users.
Easy api - cool apps
Twitter has a great api which allows for some creative apps. Some of my favorites:
- Twitter Earth (would be cool as a screensaver)
- Twistori (even more creative)
- Twittermap.nl (Dutch Twitter users on a map)
- Twitterholic (rankings)
- Many, many more apps and websites
If you're looking for great Windows Mobile Twitter app, for your mobile check out PockeTwit - it works great for me!
Twitter & Drupal
Twitter is build on ruby on rails (and had its share of problems with it) but if you would really, really want to, you could build it in Drupal. (But I've also heard you really shouldn't ;)
However, many people from the community are on Twitter, and there is also a Twitter group available.
If you want more information on Twitter I would recommend this excellent and recent post from Smashing Magazine on 8 tips to become succesful with Twitter. I really enjoyed reading the comments on that post, with many users being very negative about Twitter while others describe the same positive experience I have with Twitter.