Twitter is everyone's favorite whipping boy when it comes to 2.0. "I don't get it" or "It's useless" or "It's trite" -- and I am certainly guilty of some of this thinking myself.
In defense, I point you to Joshua Porter's 'Opaque Value Problem'. Technological 'value' can only be measured by the needs of a single individual. And as Jeremiah Owyang has said, if done correctly, Twitter functions more like a chat room than a stream of disconnected thoughts. In business school, we'd call this 'network effects'. Lately, I've been following more and more people in the social media/web development arena whose opinions and foresight I greatly value. I have definitely learned a good deal, and have had the opportunity to actually engage in conversations with them. (and I'm just a d-list web personality at best)
Case in point, today I started ranting about what kind of airline I wish existed. Complaining about air travel is like complaining about Chicago winters -- its one of those collective ills. It seems like airlines have been reduced to the same level of customer service as a Greyhound bus. My snitter was going crazy with replies (snitter is a desktop app that accesses twitter -- so far, it's been pretty reliable). From my one, almost random complaint, emerged an entire wish-list of services/features for our perfect airline, and I'll share it with you:
At fictional Twitter Airlines, we offer:
- all flights with absolutely no children under 12 (arbitrary but ideal)
- free wifi access
- but no mobile calling service (cell phones have ruined enough, haven't they? controversial, maybe)
- movies & tv on demand -- and normal headphone jacks
- no barriers to using your miles (we made em up, you earned em, why would we stop you??)
- opportunities to earn more miles (did you show up early? buy food or drinks? used us multiple times in one month?)
- on time service, and greater communication about possible delays (on a recent flight, Southwest waited until 30 minutes before a flight to notify me of a 2 hour delay -- even though the delay originated much much earlier)
- if we're delayed or we have to cancel a flight, we'll do our best to immediately negotiate you onto other airlines and flights
- real leg room, real elbow room, and real bathrooms -- having no first class section will help out -- every seat is in first class!
- customer service -- no, not just the little booth with the people that are obviously trying to avoid you as quickly as possible -- use your phone/laptop in the terminal to immediately connect with a customer service person that can serve you
- actual food and beverage service -- you can even order those chicken strips from the Chili's in the terminal from us up to 30 minutes before your flight so you don't have to wait in line
- the kind of respect and trust you should receive from a company that values your patronage
Anything to add? to subtract? Would you pay a premium for these services? How much of a premium? 20%? 30%? 100%?
Companies are already on Twitter, with their ear to stream and there's a lot they can learn, but there's even more to be gained by active participation. As a fellow twitter-er put it, "glad you're taking notes. Any airline that's taking notes as well will do well."
What is something you've learned from using Twitter?