For the longest time I just didn’t get the point of Twitter. What could one possibly communicate in 140 characters, including blank spaces? I joined seven months ago, prodded by my publisher. Twitter was about building a following, an emerging viral marketing tool for writers she assured her authors.
I’d been social networking on sites like Facebook and others for years. Twitter turned out to be mildly entertaining—finding people with common interests to follow and then perusing their tweets, checking to see who was following me and hoping for more. We write to be read after all. Far and away the best part of tweeting was it challenged me as a writer, figuring out how to be sparse but meaningful with few words.
Surprisingly, it turns out one can say an awful lot in 140 characters, including blank spaces and punctuation. And of course, you’re not limited to that. You can do a string of tweets to communicate more. On average I post around seven tweets a week. I don’t follow many, and I haven’t built much of a following so far. And up until about a week ago I still couldn’t figure out what the frenzied buzz regarding Twitter was all about.
The first hint of Twitters awesome power happened about a month ago. Waste Management Inc. was raising their rates virtually every other month, and their service was missing pickup more and more. I called them to lodge a complaint and while waiting for a representative to come on the line, I tweeted about my experience with the garbage collectors. After twenty minutes stuck in their phone loop, I hung up without ever reaching a rep. Within 24 hours of my tweet, a customer service representative from Waste Management replied, promising to help me with my issue and asked me to follow him so we could communicate via private email.
I thought it was a fluke. Waste Management must be spidering the site looking for mention of their name. I knew companies were doing it for data collection and analysis, but didn’t dream it was common practice to pass complaints on to their customer service. I got lucky that rep followed through and responded to my tweet.
I didn’t think about the WM experience again until last week. My husband bought a phone from AT&T that never worked. After three visits to their store locations near and far, and hours on the phone trying to return their non-functioning phone to get his money back, my husband gave up. Afford the loss or not, I could not accept blowing away close to $300 because AT&T has created policies to steal. I was so pissed I tweeted about this last week.
Within 24 hours a customer ‘care’ representative from AT&T replied to my tweet. Again he asked me to follow him so we could communicate privately. I did, and tweeted his email with my personal cell number. He called five minutes later and was on the phone with me for a half hour, pursuing my account to find the e-paper trail of my specific issue. Since my husband made the original online purchase of the bad phone, the rep assured me after talking with my husband for his few remaining questions he’d look into the problem and get back to me.
He did. That same day he called my husband and told him AT&T had credited the cost of the bad phone back to our account.
And none of it would have happened without Twitter.
I get Twitter now.
Watch out! We ALL have a voice now and a way for it to be heard. Twitter is very powerful indeed.