For those of you living under a very heavy rock, buried deep underground, there is this service called Twitter which has recently garnered a lot of attention. It uses what is called “micro-blogging” (140 characters or less) to tell others that follow you, what you’re up to. A personal RSS feed. Very simple idea and even though we are just at the beginning of this phenomenon I’m starting to see some coalescence.
I use Twitter as a resource for information about social media, the mobile Internet and the iPhone. These are the social objects, which are the most important partof a niche social network. The people and groups that I follow are passionate about these things and share valuable information. I contribute when I feel compelled, which I hope everyone else is doing. (I still get an occasional useless tweet from an individual about learning how to gain thousands of Twitter followers in one day!) I also use Twitter’s built in search (sorry Search.Twitter.com) to find people with similar interests and collect information on areas of interest.
Twitter has quickly become a “user generated data based platform” with hundreds of applications sitting on top. (Good list for businesses in my 11 Twitter case studies post.) Most of those serve Twitter itself and over time they will reach well beyond.
Facebook is filled with people that I know but may not share similar interests. The same is true for LinkedIn and they along with Facebook embrace the niche with groups. The difference between Twitter and Facebook/LinkedIn is inherent in Twitter’s DNA. Twitter started as a real time, mobile enabled medium. Facebook has recently added these elements and LinkedIn as of yet, has not. There are tools that allow you to create niche groups and users are doing this at a grassroots level by inviting people they follow on Twitter to follow them on Facebook and/or LinkedIn thus extending the niche social network across multiple networks. I listed Facebook and LinkedIn, only because they are the largest. If you register for a service like chi.mp or DandyID you’ll see more niche networks than you can imagine.
Twitter is not only allowing you to create your own niche network ogranically it may end up being the hub of all networks (niche or not) simply becuase of its popularity and it real time updates via services like Digsby or the built in mobile capability.