There’s been an awful lot of hype surrounding Twitter recently – celebs spending their days telling tales of fellow celebrities, and people posting pictures of snowmen during the recent bad weather in the UK.
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But does this the Twitter phenomenon have any practical uses? Does it have a meaningful application for your business?
Almost certainly the answer is yes, but it may take some work on your part.
So how does it work?
The premise, as with most good things on the internet is surprisingly simple. Comments of up to 140 characters are sent to Twitter, people who have decided to follow an individual or organisation receive these “Tweets” as soon as they are sent.
The advantage over existing personal publishing methods - blogs, or RSS feeds is obvious – your words are delivered to people, they do not have to actively go and look, and the postings are brief and to the point. You can catch up with the list of people you follow a few times a day and scan for the information you want to see, and easily reply and join in conversations that take place.
Twitter works best when you have a good idea of what you want to get out of it. Aimlessly following people (when you follow a person, you receive everything they post) may not be the best way to serve your interests. Use a tool such as search.twitter.com to search for people who are talking about issues within your business sphere.
Take a few moments to think about what it is that you need to know about straight away, the business leads that will give you an edge – from adverse weather to breaking news.
Your search will throw up people who are talking about the things you want to know about. Add those people to your follow list. Search through the people they follow; these people are being followed for a reason – because they are of interest within your business circle.
Twitter as with the rest of web 2.0 is a social vehicle – social in the sense that communication and interaction will yield best results.
Merely using the information you gain from the people you follow is not only poor judgement, it is also bad Twitter etiquette. Your organisation (or rather the person who is tasked with being at the helm of the Twitter name in your organisation) should be interacting with those who you follow, as a form of social outreach to get your online brand name out into the circle.
Good Twitter etiquette and bad Twitter etiquette
Good forms of communication can include offering advice, starting conversations, offering the odd snippet of information about your organisation where appropriate, and RT (retweeting) good and valuable information you have seen. It is about being seen as a person on the other side of the Twitter name.
Bad forms of communication involve not replying to others when they tweet at you, using Twitter to continually barrage with information regarding your company, and not showing a human side. A twitterer that continually sends out links and nothing else, will soon only be talking to themselves within twitter.
What’s an RT?
An RT – or to give it it’s full name is a Re-Tweet – where you pass someone else’s Twitter along giving them full credit, this is an essential part of how Twitter works, as it allows a great number of people to disseminate information quickly and easily. It is also a great way of finding other people who may be good fits within your business circle that you may not have otherwise known about.
If you want to send a message to someone directly for their attention, but you want it to go publicly so all your followers can see it – like a conversation you would have in a bar, everyone can hear you but you are talking with one particular person, then you can use the @<name> commands, it looks like this on everyone else’s feed:
You can send a message only to one person .. you can do that from the Direct Messages menu item on the right hand side of your page.
You don’t have to use the website to send your tweets, there is a whole range of applications that can help you to use twitter on your phone and also on your desktop or laptop.
Searching using the # tag
The # is an extremely useful tool in Twitter it allows people to post to large groups about a common theme, and this tag can be collated by search.twitter.com and will then make a meaningful discourse with a lot of people about a given subject.
The # system has proven it’s worth most notably for breaking news stories like the Mubai bombings, and the US presidential inauguration, but can also be a very useful tool for conferences and ongoing topics.
Twitter is very much what you make it – the framework of twitter is very simple, but with all things that involve collaboration, it’s usefulness ultimately depends on the groundwork you are willing to put into it.
Twitter fact file
|Location:||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Founded:||March 1, 2006|
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams and launched in July 2006. It is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to post their latest updates.