It’s likely that you have heard people talking about Twitter and Tweets. Senators are using it, CNN is reporting world news based on it, and CEO’s of large companies are using it to keep tabs on what people are saying about their brand. This blog tackles the question, “What the hell is twitter and how can I use it for my organization?”
What is Twitter?
Imagine that you are a famous actor or musician. There are a ton of people that are very interested in everything about you – just look at the magazines in a grocery store check out if you don’t believe me. Now imagine that there was a way they could keep up to date with everything you are doing as soon as you do it:
- I just signed a deal for a new blockbuster movie to be released next summer!
- I just broke up with my girlfriend/boyfriend
- Cops just pulled me over and it looks like I’m going to get a DUI
Twitter is a tool that allows you to announce to the world what you are doing, thinking or experiencing right now. People that “Follow” you receive these short messages (140 characters or less) as soon as you post them. You can post these announcements by going to your account at twitter.com, by sending a text message to twitter or by using a ton of other applications that we’ll talk about in a future post.
What you are reading is from my blog, where I can write a ton of words to express brilliant ideas. The short messages on twitter (referred to as tweets) are known as microblogs. In the same way that people write blogs because they think they have something to say that will be of interest to someone, Twitter allows people to post small messages because they think others will be interested.
If you use a social network like MySpace or Facebook, your status (the text box where you answer the question “What are you doing?” or “What’s on your mind?”) is another example of a microblog.
That sounds duuuuuumb!
Well maybe. Actually, I would have said it’s narcissistic, but people are using it… including your patrons. Here are some more realistic examples.
- There are a lot of people and organizations in the entrepreneur community in Atlanta and, by Following them, I keep up on new company buzz, upcoming events, who is talking to who, etc… it allows me to take the pulse of Atlanta’s entrepreneur activity in real time.
- Of course, I also Follow my friends and receive a stream of information about what they are up to. I have found out about break ups, births, and local events just by checking the most recent tweets.
- My Councilman – Kwanza Hall - uses Twitter to keep Followers informed about what the city of Atlanta is up to that might affect me.
- A local school – Imagine Wesley - uses Twitter to post announcements. Parents that Follow this feed with text message notification would be immediately informed in case of any emergency… or if there was an upcoming event.
The value to organizations
So people use Twitter to broadcast information into the ether and hope that people will be interested in what they say. On the flip side, people are Following others in order to keep informed about what’s going on with the people and organizations they associate with. It is probable that some of your patrons are using Twitter which gives you an opportunity to establish an ongoing dialog with them. How much would you pay for traditional advertising that recipients “opt-in” to that can go from thought to distribution in less than 10 seconds? Twitter is free.
How do I get started?
- Get and Account – I can blog all day about the theory of using Twitter, but the best way to start seeing the value is through using it. Go to Twitter.com and create a personal account already.
- Follow people – Having a Twitter account without Following people is like having the world’s only FAX machine… pointless. Etiquette for following is: there is none. People are putting their information into the world, so you can choose to follow famous people or even random strangers. You can use the “Find People” link to get started and the “Find on Other Network” option is great if you have a gmail, yahoo, or AOL address book. Otherwise, you can look for specific people using “Find on Twitter”, such as:
- Me – search for Marcel Crudele. Profile page: http://twitter.com/mcrudele
- Don Lemon from CNN – Search for Don Lemon. Profile page: http://twitter.com/donlemoncnn
- Newt Gingrich – Search for Newt Gingrich and you will get a few results. Profile page: http://twitter.com/newtgingrich
- Harry Reid - I found a link to his twitter profile on the first page of his website… http://twitter.com/SenatorReid
- Ashton Kutcher - Search for Ashton Kutcher. Profile page: http://twitter.com/aplusk (2 million + followers, but he only follows 170 people? pbbfffffff)
- Larry King – I found a link to his Twitter account on his CNN homepage. Profile Page: https://twitter.com/kingsthings
One final thing I would recommend to give you an idea for how Twitter can be used for promotions is to setup text notifications for at least one of the people you are following.
- While logged in, go to Settigns -> Devices
- Follow the instructions to set up your cell phone
- Go back to your profile and click on one of the people that you are following that probably updates on a somewhat regular basis, but not super frequently.
- Under their picture, there is an option to turn Device Updates on… set that.
The next time they tweet, you will get a text message with the details.
That should be enough to get your feet wet, but stay tuned; I will be providing more information about how to turn your efforts into results! Below are some other resources you might want to check out: