Five ways to use Twitter – for those who still don’t get it.August 10, 2009 - Author: Dan Vonderheide - Comments are closed
The conversation yesterday went like this:
Guy: Who here Twitters?
Me: Oh, I do. I think I’m a fairly heavy user.
Guy: I don’t get it. I really don’t care what you had for breakfast.
OK, I’m as guilty as anybody else when it comes to Tweeting silly information and literally stating what I’m doing right now in the requisite 140 characters. But I use it for so much more than that, as do most people I follow. After some thinking, I’ve categorized Twitter use into five categories:
Warming up relationships
I’ve yet to really begin a conversation from scratch using Twitter that translated into anything that resembled business development, but I have found people I know marginally and have been able to find out more about them and the way they operate. So the next conversation I have with them, I much more informed and ready to talk intelligently about whatver issue we’re discussing. By reading a “micro blog” like Twitter, FriendFeed, or (insert the “next big thing” here), you really get a sense of what a person is interested in and the way they feel about it. Which leads me to:
De Facto search function
By searching for and following people and business entities with which I carry some similar interests, I open myself up to great articles, blogs, and concepts that I’d never think to search for myself. I have people I follow tha are total tech nerds. I, admittedly, am not. But I can let THEM stay ahead of the curve and show me what the trends are through links and commentary. I follow people who are business theory freaks. I have more of a keen interest in the ever evolving philosophy of management and how a company can and should be run, but with all that I do, I can’t stay 100% on top of everything. So I find smart people (some I know, some I don’t) and let them show me. Because of my role with Louisville.com, I want and need to stay with local opinion and news and by following certain heavy Twitter users, I can catch a news item of interest that either I’ll be interested in or that can be valuable to Louisville.com content.
Driving traffic to websites
Louisville.com started using Twitter about 18 months ago. With every article posted, our Twitter feed gets updated. We’ve managed to accumulate over 1700 followers at this point and it has had a very measurable impact on our site traffic. People follow others that have similar interests (see the point above) and most if not all of our followers live in and around Louisville – which we all have in common. It ties in ideally with our content. And when we publish something that is of really keen interest to one of our followers, they are very kind and “retweet” our post, thereby increasing our visibility on Twitter and subsquently our site traffic. Not exactly rocket science, but very effective and something that non-users need a little guidance on.
Reconnecting to characters from your past
Of course, Facebook is really the king of this (does anybody really use classmates.com anymore?) and they do a much better job of allowing you to find long, lost faces from high school…for better or worse. But for those who are reticent to lay out their lives online, pictures, political affiliation and all, it’s a little less threatening to keep up with the daily doings of friends through Twitter. There are no application invites filling up your inbox, no “should I friend this person or not” decisions to make, and no ridiculous quizzes on what type of witch you are. Just plain, simple opinion and/or guidance in 140 characters or less.
Much has been made about the immediacy of reaction time to customer issues on Twitter. And it’s a really good idea to be on there just to find out what people are saying about you and/or your business. If you’re getting slagged on a very public forum like Twitter, how can you NOT be on there answering questions and solving problems? In 2009 “transparency” is the buzz word of importance. No business is perfect. The voice of the consumer has a lot more power than PR departments these days and Twitter is revolutionizing the way companies approach talking with the people. Reacting quickly, honestly, and decisively became a lot easier when companies like Zappos, Comcast, United Airlines and others embraced the medium. They provide great examples of how to do it well.