Getting to Know All About You…Twitter

8 Mar

SPOILER ALERT: For those who already love and use Twitter regularly, this post may seem like a no-brainer…but for those other non-Twitterers or newbies, read on.

Before joining APOC, I had been avoiding the Twitter bandwagon like the plague.

Why?

It seemed annoying. Unnecessary. Too much volume. I rarely use status updates on Facebook…so what reason would I possibly have to provide constant updates to followers about the fact that I’m sitting at a coffee shop or am going to yoga class or picking up groceries? Wouldn’t my tweets get lost in the heavy stream of traffic? Who pays attention, or even further, who cares? What is the point of another social networking site when I can find out all I need from Facebook?  Following and followers and lists, oh my!  The cartoon below says it all:

Slowly but surely, as I’m learning the fundamentals of Twitter, I am changing my ways.

Why?

Because Twitter is all about discussing topics in a public forum.

As opposed to picking and choosing with whom you interact, who and what you see, and who can see you, Twitter provides an opportunity to spread news and ideas in a less private setting.  But less private does not mean less personalized.  As discussed in this recent New York Times article, Twitter allows users to create custom news feeds targeted to their interests, as well as tap into daily hot button topics.  In essence, Twitter is a constant revolving door of information that captures the cultural, political and social zeitgeists in 140 characters or less.  Here are my top three reasons why Twitter is now inherently crucial for social media:

Twitter for Customer Service:

Twitter is a fabulous tool for engaging customers in real time, alerting followers about new products and services, and truly allowing customers to have a dialogue with a brand or company.  For example, I was recently exploring The Home Depot Twitter page.  I have recently moved and needed to go to Home Depot for the usual random things that one needs from Home Depot.  The Twitter feed was fascinating – customers were tweeting that they couldn’t find certain products, and a Home Depot representative @replied to them, asking what store they were in and saying they could help guide them in the right direction.  When someone posted about a negative experience, the reps asked what they could do to make the experience better.  When someone posted about a positive experience, the reps thanked them.  The entire feed represented a public dialogue between Home Depot and customers.  Free to access, free to view, free to converse.  Companies would be remiss not to take advantage of this service to build, maintain and engage with a loyal customer base.

Twitter for Engaging Public Conversations

Just last week I received the following email from one.org, that I wanted to reprint in full:

______________________________________________________________________

Dear Julie,

When you think of the United States Senate, you probably don’t think of cutting edge technology. But the numbers don’t lie: 55 senators are on Twitter, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and covering almost the entire country. Sounds a lot like ONE, huh?

Washington’s fascination with Twitter gives us the opportunity to send a message to Congress in real time, on their favorite new platform, about the need for smart investments in the fight against global poverty.

Check out our new “Tweet Your Senator” tool and tweet a message to Senator (and active Twitterer) Barbara Boxer asking her to support the president’s request for a $58.5 billion International Affairs Budget to fund proven solutions that are saving lives:

http://www.one.org/us/actnow/tweet/index.html?id=1514-117919-3tL4mlx&t=2

Right now, senators and members of Congress are furiously typing away on keyboards and smart phones, trying to out-do one another and be the most effective at using Twitter to communicate directly with their constituents.

If all of us send our senators tweets, you can be sure they’ll see and hear about it – some senators even update their accounts personally. They’ll know we’re turning the pressure up to make sure this year’s budget continues to support our anti-poverty priorities, such as eradicating malaria, treating AIDS and tuberculosis, promoting food security, and expanding access to clean water and basic education.

Tweet @ your senator now:

http://www.one.org/us/actnow/tweet/index.html?id=1514-117919-3tL4mlx&t=3

Happy tweeting,

Aaron Banks
Online Campaign Manager
@ONECampaign

P.S. Not on Twitter? You can go to http://www.twitter.com now to set-up an account and then check out our “Tweet your Senator” tool. Or, you can make a difference by calling your senators in support of the International Affairs Budget, here: http://one.org/call/signup.html?cp_id=71&mode=senate&id=1514-117919-3tL4mlx&t=4

______________________________________________________________________

This demonstrates Twitter’s power to enact real change on a legislative level.  Regardless of political leanings, the government is following Obama’s lead in utilizing social media efficiently to interact with constituents.  Furthermore, constituents can follow Senators, as well as view real time conversations about topics and issues.  It’s a great way for people to chime in without having to reveal too much personal information, meaning that it’s low risk with high potential reward for information gathering.

Twitter as Q&A and News Service

#FollowFriday? #Firstdaterules? #Snowpocalypse? Finding out what people are saying about certain topics just involves adding a “#” hash tag.  The simplicity, however, belies the wealth of information that is produced at the speed of light.  This month, Twitter received it’s 10 billionth tweet.  The GigaTweet counter shows the incredible pace at which people are discussing just about everything.  Yes, the volume is overwhelming, and I wish that Twitter provided a more comprehensive search feature whereby you could search specific topics by date and author, as opposed to scrolling through a newsfeed.

After learning the Twitter lingo (#, @ and DM), realizing that it’s okay not to be shy about posting publicly, @replying to people that I may not know personally, and downloading applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite to organize my searches, I can now say Twitter and I are getting to know all about each other. Better late than never for joining the bandwagon, especially at a time when Twitter is becoming more widespread and mainstream. Message me @juleschi1. And now I can appreciate this cartoon:

One Response to “Getting to Know All About You…Twitter”

  1. lloydscott March 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    I too have little interest in my friends’ broadcasting the minutiae of their lives (I don’t care if someone’s making pasta carbonara — unless, of course, they’re making it the authentic way with pork cheek!) and I ignored Twitter in the belief it was just another self-indulgent social media tool. I could not have been more wrong: Tweet discourse is less personal than Facebook updates and more value driven, as it gives you 1-1 engagement in real time with people who aren’t strictly friends, but are of great interest to you (news and politics, entertainment, technology, gastronomy, fashion, etc.). And, unlike writing for most other social media platforms, there is a minimalist haiku-like art to Twitter’s 140 character limit (see Roger Ebert).

    I do understand the information overload problem though and recommend TweetDeck as essential. While it’s been called “Twitter on Crack,” TweetDeck has really helped me simplify my interactions with Twitter — focusing in short bursts on a particular subject (say, seeing what entertainment and fashion journalists have to say about the Oscar fashion choices while you’re watching the live red carpet action).

    Thanks for the Home Depot tip too. I’ve dreaded my yearly visits to the “Home Despot” and their lack of customer service. Now I can just despise them for selling old growth rainforest wood.

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