I know a lot of you are looking at this post and thinking, “not another blog post about Twitter.” That’s totally acceptable. I have often thought the same thing and, for that reason, have stayed away from a Twitter post. Lately, however, people in my office have been exploring it on their own and have been curious about it’s applications.
My goal for this post is not to rehash Twitter campaign strategy (Todd Defren gives an example of a pharma Twitter campaign. I also found this post for our movie and entertainment friends from Eleven Marketing). I’d rather talk strictly about the benefits of Twitter for communications and journalism professionals, and offer a few tips on getting started.
For those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, it’s like a micro-blog with each post no larger than 140 characters. Due to the “What are you doing?” above the text box and tons of snarky coverage when it launched, many people still have the misconception that Twitter is like a status message similar to Facebook or an IM away message. Heck, I remember first hearing about Twitter and thinking it would be self-indulgent; who really needs to know what I’m doing all the time? I’ve come to realize that it’s so much more than that, it’s a community and a powerful resource.
“Check Out the Big Brain on Brad (Stone)”
Someone in the office asked me the best way to describe Twitter. For me, it’s like having a direct feed into your friends’ minds. Oh, and all your “friends” are top reporters, bloggers and industry specialists.
It’s not just a status message. People tell you what they’re reading as they read it, offer thoughts on breaking news, or share anything else that may be valuable. People debate and it’s like being in a lively discussion. Sometimes it feels like a living creature and one meme will race around Twitter. They’ll also tweet about their families while they tweet about the latest takeover.
For me, I love knowing what a certain reporter is reading; over time I can see the types of stories they like or get a sense of what they are interested in as they think it. Great for pitching. Great for tracking interest during a launch. Sometimes, reporters even look for sources with a tweet.
More than just another pitching tool, it’s also a way to build and cultivate a relationship with someone you might not be able to communicate with in real life. It’s also not as intrusive as IM or email. Just be sure it’s an exchange. You wouldn’t leave a commercial blog response, and you shouldn’t tweet like it’s all about you. It’s a community.
Speaking of community, all my favorite PR/Marketing thought leaders tweet. Sure, they also blog, but, again, this is a supplement that adds greater insight. It also really makes you feel like you are actively engaged in the discussion around PR and marketing.
“You Hear it First!”
Several blogs and news sites tweet when a new article or post comes out. It’s like an RSS feed that speaks to you. It’s a great way to see breaking news and maybe react as soon as possible. Plus, Twitter is like the modern day grapevine; someone tweets “Google just bought Jaiku” and the world knows. Since it’s faster than the news cycle, you can potentially pitch before the news breaks.
“Let’s Get it Started! Uh-oh! Uh-oh!”
With Twitter, you can submit your “tweets” (posts) from the website, AIM or a text from your phone. To really take advantage of Twitter’s uses, however, you have to be able to engage in the stream more directly. For this, I recommend using one of the sidebars for your internet browser, like Twitbin or Tweetbar. You can also use more robust, stand-alone applications like Snitter or Twitterific. These are a little prettier, don’t take up precious browser space, and seem to have stronger features. Test them out. The key is finding one that feels comfortable for you.
“People, Who Need People…”
Now that you’ve got your reader set up. You’ve gotta make some friends. It’s a community and, like Facebook, it’s sad if you don’t have anyone to talk to. That doesn’t mean jump in and start following hundreds of people. Start with 15 and work up. Here are a few random samples to get you started. Take a look at who your favorites are following and add those people. It’s amazing who you can find on Twitter!
- Tim O’Reilly
- Guy Kawasaki
- Jason Calcanis
- Marshall Kirkpatrick
- Todd Defren
- Robert Scoble
- Charlene Li
- Brian Solis
Pretty soon you’ll be following hundreds! Once you play around with it for a few days, you’ll see what a powerful resource Twitter can be. You may even become addicted.
Any Twitter tips? Submit them in the comments below!