Yesterday, someone in my building spotted my Twitter Badge (my follow me cards in my badge holder), and asked me about it.  This person's interest was a result of the Ashton/Oprah/CNN media storm.

I spent a few minutes trying my best to explain what it "is" and how I use it.  I tried my best to illustrate it is not just about bowel movements and breakfast activities.  I explained the "conversation", the "observe before diving in" mantra, and the benefits of the 144 character limit.   But afterward, I could tell it didn't click.

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After walking back into my office, I immediately wrote "need twitter elevator pitch" in my moleskine.  It was to be one of my goals of the week; to write my thirty second sales pitch.   This was not the first nor will it be the last time I'll be asked about Twitter.

For the last couple of days I've been looking at that entry, wondering how I should go about this.  What is the best way to sell the concept of Twitter to a "lay user".  I recalled most of the blogs I've read and videos I've watched about twitter, but none explained the "benefit" to those not already connected in some fashion to other Social Media.

Thinking back to all of those past "what is twitter conversations" I've had, the most successful ones were those when I showed the power of Twitter, sort of like a magic trick.

The Photo out of Thin Air Trick

First, ask the person about something they are really into.  Try to steer them into something relevant to the day, like a conference, sports game, or TV show.

Then, bring up the Twitter Search or a client with search capabilities, and search their topic.  Try to find a TwitPic tweet posted in the past few minutes and you will really blow them away, especially if the topic is an event that is going on right at that moment.

Example:
This happened to me last night, while at a baseball game.  One of the parents was saying how he was missing the Fleetwood Mac concert that his wife and daughter were going to.  I quickly searched "fleetwood OR amway" (they were playing at the Amway arena), and found quite a few people tweeting from all over the concert crowd.  I was able to show him images of the band taking the stage, as it was happening.   When his wife called and told him the same thing, he surprised her by saying he already knew, thanks to Twitter.

The All-Knowing Wizard Trick

Next time you hear something like "I wonder what's going on over there", answer their question with Twitter.  It is very likely someone is tweeting it.

Example:
While driving past a local high school late at night last weekend, I noticed all sorts of tents setup on the football field with the stadium lights on.  One quick search on Twitter of the school name, showed someone tweeting about the fundraising event being held there.  So I immediately knew what was going on.  Try that with your local paper, news, or even Google.

Bottom Line – Relate Twitter to "Their" Lives

It is hard to quantify Twitter's benefits without showing how is applies to someone personally and how they can benefit from it.   Twitter functions like millions of eyewitness news reporters, reporting on topics they care about.  This immediately peaks their interest and shows the power of the community, of which they can be part of it.

So, what is my Twitter Elevator Pitch?  "It's Instant Magic…Just watch this…"

[Image: pokpok313 via Flickr]