Twitter is a platform that can be used for good or evil – what camp are you in? Many just can’t wrap their minds around how or when they would use a tool like Twitter – hopefully this post will help you not just understand what all the buzz is about, but how useful a tool it could be by for YOU by looking at the top 5 ways Pedro says you can use Twitter for GOOD and strengthen the force! Know someone who “doesn’t get Twitter”? You have to send them this link. Let’s Go…
First some Twitter 101. My first recommendation is watch this youtube video. It helps provide the basic context, and does a much better job than I ever could to explain the Twitter concept – pluspeople like Visual, whether it’s a presentation or reading a blog.
Since most people “get” Facebook, and dig those status updates in Facebook, at this point I use that as the springboard. Imagine your (facebook) friends are on Twitter. Just like you “Friend people” in Facebook, in Twitter you Follow them, and they can also follow you. I use the anology that when you update your status in Twitter, it’s also kind of like sending a text message via SMS on your cell phone to a friend. Except you can text all your friends (or “followers”) at the same time!
Everyone still with me? Great. So you can easily update your “Twitter” status via your browser, your IPhone (or Palm Pre) or BlackBerry – or even your cell phone. When you do this, you are answering the question, What are you doing? and these updates are (sorry, this is true) called Tweets. (You need to get past this, I know it sounds kind of silly…but a Tweet it is!) Bottom line is there are a pile of Twitter Tools out there and this link is one you will want to bookmark and review to see what tools work best for you.
So now that “you get it”, it’s important for you to get how this could be usefeul in real life. Without further ado:
Pedro’s Top 5 Ways Twitter Can Be Used For Good and in real life
#5 – Get Connected With Like Minded People
An interesting dynamic about “joining Twitter” is that you can easily “find people” with similar interests. When you sign into Twitter, the first thing I recommend is to use the “Find People” menu option on the home page to track down people you know, to build up that base. Right after that, use search.twitter.com to find people with common interests – lots of options here, including searching by geography. Have a passion about a hobby, a special cause or charity or some work related topic? See what you can find. Then, (take a breath) start following them (remember, just like friending – except you don’t need to ask permission). Don’t be surprised that when you follow someone, they will likely in turn, follow you. And also don’t be surprised that once you start tweeting that people will start following you….so the next question people ask is “how often should I tweet”? I don’t think there is a “right answer” hwere, but based on what I have learned, 3-4 times a day is reasonable, but if it’s only 5-10 times per week…it is what it is! As with anything, the more useful it is to you, the more often you will use it. So now you’re connected with people you know…people you don’t know…chances are (some of) what “shows up” in your “twitter feed” will be “of interest” to you…much like you learn about events, blogs, etc. from your Facebook “wall” – but you don’t have the same “overhead” of Facebook. This is a learn, mean update machine….
#4 – A Travellers Best Friend
So the next time I am travelling somewhere, maybe on business…and somewhere I may or may not know very well. If I am looking for something to do…somewhere to go….a good place to eat? Wondering if the place I am pulling up to really is “a good choice”, pull out your phone and send out a tweet - very quickly…somtimes minutes…sometimes seconds, you can get some quick advice…or maybe someone will tweet their cell number and you can talk to a real person…a friend, or someone in your network that wants to “let you in” on their “best place to eat, shop, etc”…it’s amazing what people will do, for free, just because it’s the right thing to do and someone might pay it forward….How cool is that?
#3 – A “Human” Google
This is similar to #4, but imagine standing in a best buy, and you are about to pull the trigger on a new video cam….you’ve read the reviews, have it down to 1-2 (or 3) models, and have decided, today is the day you are going to make that decision. You think you are good to go….but you reach into your pocket, and send out a tweet…it hits one of your friends, or maybe someone who also shares a passion for AV/photography and they tweet back with their thoughts…it helps you cement that decision. The people you “trust”….at least more than that salesman who says “this one over here is the one THEY would recommend”. The power of many. Harness it…
#2 – Conferences, Sharing Of News/Blogs/Information
Are you an Information Maven? I happen to be – maybe I even need some “help” with that, but you don’t have to be “wired” to drink from the Information Superhighway “firehose” every day. But twitter is a great way to connect you with “higher quality” information that is out there, that your “peeps” are tweeting about, and sharing links to. So you only have time to read 2 blog articles today? Chances are if you pick 2 from your “Twitter Feed” that people you follow are sharing, they’re probably a “better quality 2 articles” than if you tried to find them on your own…or at least the chances should be greater, because after all, you are following these people for a reason…
And then there are conferences or events. When I was listening to Obama’s acceptance speech, I had a “few” twitter feeds wired up that were just “scrolling” with commentary from others, doing the exact same thing. Watching, listening, and sharing their instantaneous “feedback”….it was a pretty “surreal” experience. How else can you “get that”…for me, that was a game changer. Another example – that conference you cannot attend, with that keynote occurring that you just “wish you could listen to”. And maybe you are watching it on the web…or you plan on reading about it later…but someone might be “tweeting” it live for you…it could be a journalist…an industry “insider”, or just someone you might have sat beside (had you been there) and shared the moment with…and discussed…but now you are doing it virtually…and maybe with a few…or several…or hundreds of others. Starting to get interested now?
#1 – Traffic Generation
As we saw recently here on BloggingIdol as ITWorldCanada helps to increase the “blogging footprint” in Canada through their support of Candian Bloggers – if you are in the business of Buidling an e-Brand for yourself, your company, your blog – whatever it is — you just cannot ignore this platform any longer. You may be focusing all your attention on Google and adwords, but Twitter may be the real secret weapon for you. In the “micro-attention” sharing world, the ability to generate traffic can be mindblowing. The interconnection between Google and Twitter is also quite tight – so investing in Twitter, can pay huge dividens for you on the Google side….without perhaps having to break the bank on those keywords!
So did this help? I could have done a top 10, and even the order of the top 5 is “negotiable” – but hopefully this post doesn’t just make it easier for you to “educate your boss” at work, but also help YOU either start, or better leverage this tool.
My advice, don’t worry about the “stigma” or perception – remember, anything can be used for Good Or Evil - and for Work or Play - and as with anything on the Internet, it is as much of a ”spammers playground” for everything from “that great supplement” to “that great job posting” — as it is your own “green field” in your quest to be “better connected” and leverage technology in a way that enriches your life, whether at work, rest or play. Have fun, and as with everything, be smart.
Update 4/9/2009 7:45AM: I was just tweeted that Chris Brogan recently wrote a similar post –here is his slant on this topic
Liked this post? Browse through all my posts here. Thanks…Pedro