What & is the DEAL with &Twitter

You ever have this experience?

You’re sitting in a room with 200 people. The conversation turns to a new technology. Everyone gets all excited. Immediately everyone starts using it…and you’re just sitting there muttering, “WTF. I don’t get it?!”

That’s how I felt in Austin, TX last week.

Twitter was all anyone could talk about in at the South by Southwest conference this year, and I don’t know why. Now I confess that I’m not using I.M., so clearly my learning curve will be slower. But why would anyone want to get messages from strangers telling them things like “I’m having a bad hair day, thinking of shaving it off”?

Still, I try to resist the urge to write off this kind of stuff, especially when other folks seem to be all excited about it. The anthropologist in me kicks in and I just observe and ask myself, “what’s going on here?” And “how can we make money off this?”

Well, I still don’t know what’s going on here (other than people simply like getting I.M. messages)…but at least one (potential) commercial application for all this digital chatter has emerged.

Woot!, a community built around buying and selling of stuff, is using Twitter to update its community about its latest deals.

Here’s an excerpt from the Woot Blog (which is pretty funny BTW) explaining why and how Woot hooked up with Twitter:

That’s right: you can sign up for a free Twitter account, make Woot your Twitter friend, and receive automatic updates when we put a new product up, when the daily product sells out, or when anything else happens around here. Twitter updates are available through your IM client or as text messages on your phone, along with the standard web-based Twitter interface. Unlike other Woot watchers (which we also love), Twitter is a one-stop way to keep up with us and your “real” friends at the same time. And unlike our own SMS service through SayNow (again, much love), Twitter will be regularly updated during Woot-Offs

Further on in the post it mentions that the idea for linking these two systems came from a Woot community member. In fact, the Woot member actually set up the link between the two systems and handed it over to Woot:

We have to thank a loyal and industrious Woot member, Jesse Newland, for starting this Twitter bot all on his own, and then passing it off to us. Kudos to you and yours, sir! We don’t know if any other online store has been so rash as to leap onto the Twitter bandwagon just yet. We’re not entirely certain that it makes any sense for us to do it. But let it never be said that Woot passed up any opportunity to insinuate ourselves deeper and deeper into your life.

This phenomenon – customers creating new marketing channels for a company just because they can – is pure 2.0 gold. In fact, this is perhaps even more interesting than the fact that you can get Woot product updates through Twitter. You decide.

Again, I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from Jerry McGuire, “…why can’t we have a relationship like that?”