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Microblogging – a primer

2 min read

Marketing Strategy

Today we continue our primer series with a brief overview of microblogging. (Alas, I could not get it down in 140 characters.)

Microblogging is a form of communication that allows users to send brief text, photos or audio clips to people who have agreed to receive such updates, aka “followers” or “subscribers.” The updates can either be completely public or limited to a restricted group chosen by the user. Or as one microblogging fan put it: “For users of Facebook, just imagine a site with status updates but no photos, vampires or scrabulous.”

People use microblogging services for both personal and business reasons, just like traditional blogging. But microblogging sharply differs from traditional blogging in both its speed and its brevity.

There are a number of free microblogging services available. Among the best known: Twitter, where the 140-characters-or-less updates are known as “tweets.” Twitter users have a number of options for sending or receiving updates, including the Twitter Web site, SMS, RSS, and applications such as Twhirl. As your microblogging circle grows, you’ll likely turn to tools such as Hashtags to help keep things organized.

Setting up an account with a microblogging service is simple and straightforward. More complex is figuring out the role such tools play in your business strategy. Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang offers his list of “Essential Twitter tools” to help you get started. Sarah Milstein, a Web 2.0 consultant, offers tips on putting Twitter to use at work. Another article discusses ways to integrate microblogging into your PR and marketing strategy.

Have any questions about Twitter or other microblogging services? Post them here and we’ll help you find the answers.

Update – 5/8/09: The New York Times article “All You Need to know to Twitter” is a great breakdown for beginners looking to learn the less obvious ways to make the most of your Twitter experience. From sharing photos to phone applications it’s all here for you in this article.