How To Use Twitter : Part 3 – So What’s the Point?

So once you’ve set up an account and got Tweetdeck installed. What now?  What’s the point right?

Well, what you want to do now, is track subjects you are interested in.

Let’s take the rings around the sun today.  Within a few minutes, hundreds of people had posted on Twitter about it. A hashtag had been invented, #sunhalo, which I’m sure was just one of many.  I added columns with keywords of sun and ring, and one for the hashtag.  I wanted to see what other great photos had been taken of the event and where all it was visible from.  Seems that Cape Town missed out on this one, but just about everyone else did see it.

Now if I was interested in property instead, (and Bev, this one’s for you :)) – I could create a column with keywords for property, then monitor to see who’s looking and who’s selling.  If I was into property law looking for clients, I could pick up on anyone commenting on lease issues maybe.  You could also start identifying common terms based on this and start your own hashtag and start thereby start a trend, eg: #Propertylaw.  Then if you posted all your tweets with your hashtag, eventually people would pick up on that and start putting it in their tweets.  If you constantly post tweets on your topic and help people with their challenges, you start being regarded as a subject matter expert. People start coming to you for advice, which turns into business.

I follow #SharePoint.  It’s sometimes a little too broad, so I prefer to have #SharePoint 2010 and #SharePoint 2007.  But from this list I pick up cool blogs, tips and tricks, events, job openings, challenges people are having and general useful SharePoint info.  I reply to people when I can to help out, and retweet all the cool stuff I find.  And I add the links that are useful to my tips and tricks newsletter that goes to all my students.  Notice how people add random hashtags all over their tweets,  you could do a search on any of these words to see what’s going on there.

These lists are contributed to by everyone in the world – that’s the cool thing.  It’s definitely a way to think global but act local.  You pick up global trends and challenges, and can apply them to your inner circle wherever you are.

The point is to gather information and connect with people.  I have made tons of new friends and business contacts because of Twitter.  I also didn’t get it in the beginning, and Rob Maclean sat me down and explained it one day.  A year later, Twitter is invaluable to me as a business tool!  These are my latest profile stats.

It is by FAR the fastest way to send and receive information.  It leaves news stations in the dust because people tweet the second something happens.  No more waiting for reporters to get there, as it happens it goes on Twitter.  Viral is the understatement of the century.  I heard last week that 375 000 people sign up on Twitter every day!  If you need information on something, or run a business, you cannot ignore Twitter as a business tool.

And if you do have a business – best you use Twitter.  The amount of abuse being flung at companies is scary, and if they only responded to some of these, their businesses would do so much better.  These 3 get beaten up regularly, with Telkom being renamed to Hellkom.

However, other companies leveraging Twitter expertly are Moyo’s, Afrihost, Edgars and FNB.  If you complain or compliment these three and put their company names in a tweet, you’ll get a reply in minutes.  Now that’s customer service!  (And a full time job, make no mistake!)

That’s what I use Twitter for.  It may take you a week or so to get used to this, but once you do, it will change the way you communicate forever.  Email is simply too slow!

Twitter can be a great business tool, as is LinkedIn and Facebook – but it takes a lot of time.  Social networking takes me at least 2 to 3 hours every single day, without fail.  If you’re going to use these tools for your business, you need to be able to maintain the momentum, and it’s not easy.  If you don’t think you can, then rather skip it for now.  Don’t start and then quit half way, you’ll be defeating the object.

One final thing to remember – with all social networking tools : whether you like it or not, you are associated with the company you work for, and as such are representing that company to some degree.  Don’t be posting hate speech, racism, porn and all the other un-PC things out there, you will be held accountable.  Watch what you say and act professionally.  Most companies have a social media policy, make sure you know what’s in it.  Billboard – highway! 😉

And that concludes the Introduction to Twitter series.  If you’d like more info or help, feel free to tweet me! 😉  @veroniquepalmer.

I’ve posted this blog post on Twitter!!


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