Twitter is the Internets Water Cooler

An office water cooler with a reusable 5-gallo...
Image via Wikipedia

You can’t monitor the whole Internet. Nobody can, not even Google. So what do you do? It’s obvious that you can’t ignore it? You need to be monitoring something.

“But I don’t have budget for fancy monitoring tools.” You don’t need any budget. There are dozens of free or nearly free tools to use but you could probably just monitor Twitter if you had to.The easiest and cheapest way is set up your team with TweetDeck, let it run in the background at work and run a search for your keywords.

I’m not advocating that you only monitor Twitter (and the above solution only works while TweetDeck is running) but I think if you only did one thing, it would be to monitor Twitter? Why? Why not blogs or set up alerts?

Twitter is the water cooler of the Internet. One could argue that it’s becoming the World’s Water Cooler. But they’d be wrong. The World has many Internet Water Coolers.

Facebook is the World’s Largest Water cooler.

The Facebook Water Cooler started off as a brand of water bottles exclusively sold at college. It quickly became the favorite water cooler brand in the US and is quickly become the favorite at all of the Internet’s international offices as well. After a redesign of the water cooler people complained that it released too much water too quickly but eventually they got used to it. People do get really uncomfortable when they run into both their x-girlfriend and their mom at the Facebook Water Cooler.

Twitter is the World’s Noisiest Water Cooler.

The Twitter Water Cooler is not the largest but is by far the noisiest water cooler in the office. This is the water cooler that people who don’t drink water hate having a desk to close to and put up signs outside their cubicle wall reminding people that there are people working asking conversations be kept to a minimum. The Twitter Water Cooler used to run out of water all the time but it’s been much better latley. They also have really, really small cups.

FriendFeed is the the Geekiest Water Cooler.

The FriendFeed Water Cooler is where IT support hangs out and bitches about everyone else. It has superior filtration. State of the art cooling and is more energy efficient. In fact they recently implemented new water reclamation from the air but only a few people know how to use it.

Internet vs The World

While there are many water coolers for what’s happening in the World Twitter is the one where everything on the Internet passes through. If there’s big news in the office everyone, including PR, and HR go over to the Twitter Water Cooler to find out what’s up an then go back to their water coolers to talk about it.

So some of you are rightfully thinking, “Tac the Internet *is* the World.” Yes it is. But many things in the World don’t raise to any significant level of awareness on the Internet. My wonderful wife spends more time on Facebook than any other Internet site. She get’s news about what’s happening in our neighborhood, community and in our friends and families lives. That stuff doesn’t make it on Twitter and you don’t need to know about it.

US Airways Flight 1549 Plane Crash Hudson in N...
Image by davidwatts1978 via Flickr

But if a plane crashes, a celebrity dies (or one allegedly dies), a nation revolts or your marketing campaign tanks, the Twitter Water Cooler knows about it. If you’re going to monitor only one thing right now, Twitter will get you 90% of what you want faster than anything.

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  • "If you’re going to monitor only one thing right now, Twitter will get you 90% of what you want faster than anything."

    Well said. Trending topics never misses a major story. The mob knows faster than CNN these days.
  • :), this common analogy of the loud and often fast paced discussions happening on Twitter and Friendfeed is really the most effective at conveying a realistic problem, so many conversations going on at once. I certainly wouldn't want to approach that water cooler in real life, I wouldn't know which person to talk to first. But, a little difference with Twitter is you can filter conversation at your own pace, rather then being thrown into the most interesting conversation you overhear next to that water cooler in real life.
  • Josh, totally agree. No analogy is perfect but I was striving for the general idea, while having a little fun at the same time :)
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