Why Are You Thumbing Your Nose At Twitter?

As you’ve no doubt heard, earlier today a US Airways flight, in a losing fight with a flock of geese, ended up in the Hudson River.  Miraculously, not one of the 155 passengers or crew was seriously hurt.

You may have noticed, if you watched the news or read about it online, that one particular photo continued to turn up just about everywhere.

Passengers stand on the wing waiting for their turn.

Passengers stand on the wing waiting for their turn.

The image was taken by Janis Krums on his cell phone which he then uploaded to TwitPic, a Twitter client that makes it easy to broadcast, or “tweet,” your photos.  You send a picture mail to TwitPic and it automatically syncs it with your Twitter account, broadcasting a message (or tweet) based on what you put in the subject line of your picture mail, along with a shortened link directly to the image itself.  Twitter, by the way, gives you a maximum of 140 characters to state your message.

In Janis’ case, he tweeted this message:

http://twitpic.com/135xa – There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.

This afternoon before I left to come home from work, over 40,000 people had clicked that link – just an hour or two after it was taken.  At the time I’m writing this (almost midnight) that number has more than doubled.

I’m not sure how many followers Janis began the day with (he’s at just over 2100 now), but suffice it to say, some of them “Re-Tweeted” (RT) or forwarded the above tweet, sharing it with their followers as well.

In fact, before today, I’d never heard of Janis, but one of my followers mentioned the image and the link and before I knew it, I was “tweeting” about Janis and his snapshot to all of my other followers as well.

usairways-janis-krums-link1

It is utterly amazing to me how fast this kind of thing can move on a platform such as Twitter.  I even heard Janis being interviewed on CNN, made popular, no doubt, by his now widely-seen photograph.  According to his twitter page, he’s on MSNBC next.

Interestingly, Janis himself commented on Twitter in a post on his own blog just three days ago.  In it he says:

What can you say in 140 characters or less?  Can you be effective with less words?  There is no room for wordiness.  You need to be on point with your message as quickly as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I think he followed his own advice pretty well.

And wouldn’t you know it, just last week, I argued via Twitter with an industry colleague of mine on it’s effectiveness and future.  In a direct message (DM) to me he stated:

I wonder how many people are twittering?  I guess this will have jumped the shark when I see a sitcom episode around it.

Needless to say, we didn’t see eye to-eye – or should I say tweet-to-tweet – on the usefulness of Twitter.  However, I believe if you’re not participating in the conversation and attempting to engage your customers and those you care about in this environment, people may soon be saying it’s your company that has “jumped the shark.”

For a great example of one company’s use of Twitter, check out @comcastcares.  Their approach may not apply to your industry in every way, but I’ll bet you still find plenty of take aways.