Twitter is the Internet interface to answer one question: "What are you doing?" Actually some people expand that to what are you thinking. The Interface though hooks the Internet to Text Messaging on your cell phone. So it lets all of us keep each other apprised nearly second by second on what we are doing and/or thinking.
I have discovered so far that I really do not do enough stuff to post even hour by hour much less second by second. And there are certain things that I do (and think) that I really do not want to share in real time.
There are some things I would just as soon not know about myself much less share with the world.
This may shock some people but I don't really care what most people are doing or thinking period. Even for those I do care about I do not really need to know it in real time.
But articles and links about Twitter have just exploded the last few weeks. Amazing really.
In studying it I have concluded that at least a few of the reasons for its success is its simplicity, singular focus, ease of use, and ability to interconnect with cell phones and other communities.
Facebook is another phenomenon. I understand it a bit better I think than Twitter. It really is a great way to find and keep in touch with friends and family. It is great to share photographs and comments and just generally do things that friends do except in an Internet way.
It is pretty easy to use and has lots of features. It seems pretty safe, too. Unlike other community sites I've used on Facebook people use their real names -- at least most do I think. Otherwise you have a hard time finding your friends and family.
It also is very easy to use and has a simple but focused purpose. But that purpose, while simple, is extraordinarily flexible to accommodate so many different things that people do.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the use of these communities for marketing and selling and other business purposes including brand promotion. I just attended an online meeting about that very topic in fact.
I am still thinking about this entire topic.
What it reminds me of is something I often hear in conversations with friends usually about businesses: "It is all about relationship." It seems too simple doesn't it? But I like to go where I feel like I am known and appreciated.
Starbucks does that by working hard to remember their customers' drinks and names. And that works fine as long as you have customers frequenting the same store on some kind of regular basis and seeing the same people.
Families have the same problem when they are geographically dispersed as so many of us are now.
I think Twitter and Facebook each attempts to help bridge that gap.