When he first used Twitter's messaging service in 2006, Dick Hardt felt as if he were talking to himself. But as more people began requesting his Twitter alerts, Hardt realized the service could be an effective tool for communicating internally with his team and externally with business associates, no matter where he was.
For the uninitiated, Twitter is a free web service used to answer the question, "What are you doing?" You enter your response with a cell phone, an IM application or through a website and broadcast the snippets publicly or privately. For example, you could let your sales team know you've updated a proposal or campaign and that they should look at the changes.
Twitter, offered by the San Francisco-based company of the same name, builds on our seemingly insatiable need for instant information. "Business associates are subscribed to my feed, and I [once] updated that I was not feeling well," says Hardt, 44. "On a board call that day, that information was shared with other people. That was an 'aha' moment as to how many people know what I am up to through Twitter."
Hardt's 4-year-old company, Sxip Identity of Vancouver, British Columbia, also uses Twitter to communicate internally about development milestones for Sxipper, its password identity management software. The development team created a quirky, fictitious Twitter persona that broadcasts when a new software feature has been added or an issue has been addressed and fixed.
Hardt says Twitter is competing with social networks for his team's attention. Ultimately, he believes the messaging service will be just one of the Web 2.0 services in his company's marketing strategy.
Heather Clancy, a freelance journalist and consultant, has been covering the high-tech industry for close to 20 years. She can be reached at email@example.com.