Image via CrunchBase
You know something has hit the mainstream when it becomes a Doonesbury cartoon and written about extensively in the New York Times. And, if you watch CNN then it’s hard to avoid Rick Sanchez.
And, even though it has been mentioned here on the Post a number of times (here, here, and most recently here), I still think it deserves a bit more attention to bring it home for people.
I’ve been using Twitter personally and professionally for about two years and find it both a waste of time as well as something highly valuable. Either way, it isn’t something you should be ignoring if you are involved with marketing anything – yourself, your business, your community, or your organization.
Twitter is (micro) blog tool.
Twitter is a marketing tool.
Twitter is a communication tool.
Even though Twitter poses the question, What are you doing?, in reality it is so much more than that. The basic concept is that you post items of interest, ask questions, share links, respond to others, and say what you are doing. As you begin doing this, others may find what you share of interest and begin to follow you. This means that what you tweet appears on their Twitter screen. After a while, a small community builds up around you. In the box below are the latest tweets from my account.
As you can see, the topics can vary significantly because in my Twittersphere I have Buddhists, Librarians, technologists, people I work with, family, and people in Ojai.
Why is this useful?
1. Learn about news
2. Troubleshoot a problem
3. Build community – locally and internationally
4. Promote a product or service
5. Laugh (see Hot Amish Chick)
6. Participate in events across time and space (see how Twitter Dominated ALA Midwinter conference).
The Twitter account above is my personal account, but I also use Twitter for my library to push out information and news about the library. Followers can get the information on Twitter, via text message (something that sets Twitter apart), or on the Luria Library home page. I also have an account to communicate with a class I teach on web development. Finally, I am also part of the tour planning team for Thich Nhat Hanh and we are using Twitter to market the tour.
How do you use Twitter effectively?
1. Create an account
2. Complete the profile, including a picture and the one line bio – this is critical to encourage others to follow you
3. Make a few tweets, but don’t make them too mundane – this establishes your presence on Twitter to encourage others to follow you
4. Look for people with similar interests as yours and start to follow, don’t move too fast on following because then you might appear as a spammer – maybe 10-20 people – and then wait for follows back (see Ojai Twitterati below.
5. If you have your own web site or use Facebook, embed the Twitter feed (like above) into your site
6. Download and use Tweetdeck to monitor and post Twitter (if you have an iPhone, I recommend Tweetie).
7. Post a tweet at least once a day – the more you put in, the more you get back.
Finally, here’s the list of some of the local Twitterati to go out and follow.
Ojai Roasting Company
Laurel Springs School
Los Angeles Times
If this is still unclear to you, a great summary is Twitter in Plain English. So, let us know what you think. How are you using Twitter? Do you find it useful? A waste of time?