In brief, it's a Micro-blogging site where you share what's going on RIGHT NOW in 14o letters and spaces or less. It's a little bit like what would happen if Blogger shagged a chat room. If you are lucky, your Tweets will be replied to, or if they are interesting enough, Retweeted by your followers to their followers. This is useful if, for example, you are looking for a stolen car, or if you want to know how the traffic is in Ruwi, or if you are a business who has something interesting to sell.
From a corporate perspective, twitter is a tool to supplement Broadcast or print Media. Instead of just Yelling At people about what you are selling, you are Communicating with customers. Twitter provides a Low-cost opportunity to relate to customers and receive 360* feedback, while hopefully building a loyal customer base who will follow you, and your tweets.
But social media can bite back. By providing a public forum to interact with customers, you are also providing a public forum for customers to air grievances, so you had better be prepared to solve problems, listen to your customers, and take criticism like a Big Boy. Let me give you some examples of how it's working here in Oman.
Here is a great example of an Omani company using social media to connect with their customers. Go have a look: http://twitter.com/OmanAir Yes, that's right, Oman Air, our stogy, unfriendly national airline is using Twitter to fantastic effect. Whomever is managing their twitter account is so good, that I am actually considering flying with them again.
But sometimes, you can Fail, and Fail big. The conversation pasted below reads from top to bottom. The characters are
Nawras: The newly launched corporate twitter identity for Nawras Oman. Have a look, they are not following anyone, or replying to tweets directed at them.
Beyrouti: One of the senior guys who works in Marketing and Branding at Nawras. The fingers behind the Nawras tweets.
Muscati Sangeetha BaderHinai and Otheroman : Omani Twitter Users, and Bloggers. Smarter than we look.
The scene below is what happens when your followers provide helpfull suggestions on how to be better on twitter, and the Branding manager looses his temper. It's a Fail. Remember, read top to bottom.
That tweet from Nawras was their last tweet to date, but there has been an awful lot of discussion about the meltdown on twitter, and now, Youtube! Clip credits to @Developar Hilarious!
For those of you who are looking forward to what I can only assume will be another massive Social Media Fail, Omantel has entered the fray with a twitter account for what is without a doubt the most hated company in the entire country. And they are already making the same mistakes Nawras did.
And if you want a laugh, have a look at the (totally fake) Original Omantel Twitter page http://twitter.com/omantel which is, in my mind, a far better representation of Omantel's customer service abilities. Really, go. It's hilarious.
Even more hilarious, is that a lot of people read that and think it's actually Omantel. That's how bad Omantel is.