Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

What is Twitter?

April 23, 2008

Twitter is being being used mostly by early adopters right now but this idea’s time has come. I realized how powerful it was at SXSW, where @garyvee and a few friends decided to host a wine tasting party. They told people about it on Twitter, and minutes later 60 people were in the room tasting wine and having a great time. Instant party.

My friend @jimkukral was looking for PHP programmers. He asked for leads on Twitter and had 10 connections in as many minutes. Then there’s the guy who got out of an Egyptian jail with Twitter’s help.

So what is it? Twitter is something like a chatroom for the world, but where you only see messages from people you want to follow. It’s an ongoing dialog, where people post their thoughts, ideas, links, questions and others respond in kind.

Just like your telephone or email, Twitter is a platform, a blank slate. The only rule is you only get 140 characters for your message. Many posts are about the minutia of life, which can be interesting if it’s a close friend or it’s nearby geographically. Eg. “Thinking of trying the the new Greek deli on 4th street for lunch. Anyone been there?”

If you’ve connected Twitter to your cell phone you might receive that message by SMS and chime in with your opinion, or maybe find yourself eating Souvlaki 15 minutes later. Serendipity in 140 characters or less.

It’s useful too. Because it’s real-time and broadcast as opposed to 1:1,, you can ask your friends which movie to see while you’re standing in line.

Twitter is easy to misunderstand and dismiss, just as blogging was when it first appeared. Most people went through a phase of asking why anyone would publish (or read!) what happened at school or the office that day. The trick is not to mistake the average for the best. Just as with blogs, you only following/read what is interesting for you.

Getting Started:

1. Visit Twitter and choose a username that’s short and easy to remember. Personally I think a version of your real name is good since that’s easier for people to remember.

2. Connect with friends on Twitter by “following” them. You can also connect your phone to Twitter (beware text message charges) and get pinged when your close friends update.

3. Start playing around. After connecting with your friends on Twitter, you’ll discover new and interesting people through your friends’ conversations.

A few handy Twitter commands

d username blah blah  Send username a private message. Make sure you stay under 140 characters as the remainder may be posted publicly (a bug, whee)

on username  Start getting updates from this person.

off username  Stop getting updates from this person.

track foo  See when anyone says “foo” on Twitter. (Note that popular terms can be very high volume, and that tracked terms are only sent to your phone if you have one connected, they don’t appear in your normal feed.)

PS: Don’t be intimidated by a new medium. Have fun! I’m @dragushan if you want to say hello or have any questions.


Joost throws open the doors, and a nice use of the private beta

May 3, 2007

A private beta is when a company starts with a small number of users, and expands by allowing those users to invite others. As Grant Storry describes nicely here, companies often use this technique to add buzz, and to grow at their own pace to ensure they can serve everyone well. 

Joost is a startup offering free TV over the internet, and until recently invites were doled out a few at a time. I’m guessing they needed enough users to prove their concept, but couldn’t push for wide adoption because they weren’t profitable without big-name advertisers.

Last week they threw open the doors, after this announcement:


Last week, Joost announced that it had signed more than 30 blue-chip brands, including The Coca-Cola Company, HP, Intel and Nike, as advertising launch partners. Beginning today, advertisements from some of the ad launch partners will begin to play on the platform. Advertisements from all ad launch partners will be on Joost later this month.

“Ok, we’ve got the money lined up, open the gates!”

Interestingly, while it’s pretty clear they want as many users as possible, the beta is still technically closed. You can’t download the app at because they want you to hear about it from someone else.

Viral marketing at it’s best. A recommendation from a friend is more powerful than anything they can do.

It’s going to work, too. Joost is fun to play with and worth checking out. (It’s from the same folks who brought us Skype.)  Your geeky friends will know about it in 3-6 months and your mom might be watching in a couple years.

Congrats guys, nicely done. 

If anyone would like to give it a spin leave a comment below and I’ll send you an invite.