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If you're responsible for the direction of the online strategies for your company or organization, you've probably been hearing buzz about Twitter, a next-generation instant messaging tool. Even if you're new to Twitter, this will—by linking to resources and providing a starting point for your strategy—serve as a guide to educate you and help you make a decision.

Web Strategy Theory to Know Before You Go Forward

If you've not already figured it out, the corporate Web site is becoming less relevant, and web marketing (and support) has spread off your domain and Google results. You also know that prospects trust the opinions of customers (who are "like them") far more than marketers, and Facebook lets these communities of practice assemble: Your brand is decentralized—embrace! (If you don't understand these concepts, it's hard to move forward; so please refer to posts that the above links point to.)

Opportunities: Why Twitter?

A tool embraced by the early adopter, Twitter users can benefit from thought leadership, connection to the influencers, additional message reach, access to mobile communicators, real-time communication, but more importantly, the opportunity to build relationships through conversations. Who is it good for? Media companies, social-media-savvy brands, those who may already have a blogging strategy, those with frequent updates. High-communication individuals may prefer this tool.

Limitations and Challenges: It's not for everyone

Twitter is not for everyone. Here are a few considerations: Due to a high degree of micro information, the user will need to self-parse information. Although there is no formal data, I suspect that the audience and user base consist of early-adopter social media folks and influencers, with an average age of 30-45. Although parent company Obvious recently received funding, the product infrastructure is still going through growth pains and error messages are common. Twitter is still in its early stages, and its full value has not been realized.

There are other competitors in the space, such as Pownce, released by Kevin Rose of Digg.com, and Zooomr's Zipline. Expect Twitter-like features to emerge in many social networks as a feature.

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image of Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang is a Web strategist, speaker, and blogger/videoblogger focused on how companies use the Web to connect with customers. He is active on Twitter and can be followed at jowyang; if you follow him, he'll follow you back.