I’m reading Tamar Weinberg’s great book “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web,” and I think the chapter on Twitter should be required reading for all marketing people–maybe all people period.
Many of my friends tell me they just don’t “get” Twitter. Who cares, they say, that someone is at the mall, or having lunch. There are enough of those stupid updates from friends on Facebook.
I didn’t “get” Twitter for a long time, either. I signed up on April 15, 2008, and my first tweet was “grabbing a coffee and taking the dog to Dolores Park.” Groundbreaking…
Over the next year, I tweeted about once a month or so, had followers that overlapped almost exclusively with my Facebook friends, and wondered why anyone would ever prefer Twitter to Facebook.
Now, most of those I follow/follow me are people I’ve never met in real-life, but who I share a common interest with — such as social media, PR, marketing, Kentucky basketball, or bicycling.
I’m certainly no super-Twit — as of today I have only about 220 followers/following about 260 — but I find it becoming increasingly important to me each day. For me, Twitter is:
- A breaking news source that routinely reports global events before the mainstream media–and with much more authenticity. This really hit home for me as I watched the tweets coming out of Iran a few months ago during the riots. With the right “follow” list, you can get breaking news on any topic of interest via Twitter.
- A tool for education about my profession and interests. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about social media, and I’m following some of the smartest people on this topic–getting access to their thoughts, ideas, writings in a constant tweet parade across my desktop. I’m trying to be a better community member by contributing thoughts and comments as well.
- And most recently, a place to have interesting conversation threads with the people that I follow. I’m new to the conversation aspects, and have only realized the power of this type of exchange very recently. In Tamar’s book, there is a quote from small business expert and successful Twitter user Anita Campbell that captures the idea exchange very well:
“There is a crackle of energy on Twitter. If you want to be perceived as a thought-leader today, you have to be participating on Twitter and helping create that energy.”
It is difficult to overemphasize the value — particularly for professionals who want to learn, exchange ideas, and meet other like minds in their fields.
I’ve realized recently that there seem to be stages of “getting” Twitter. For me, it went along as follows:
Stage I: “I’m taking the dog to the park”
-Tweet personal blurbs to a group of followers that contains mostly friends you already know in “real-life.” Seeing what celebrities are on Twitter, and following them. Thinking this is pretty boring and wondering what all the fuss is about.
Stage 2: Link sharing
-Realizing that alot of people are sending links around, so maybe that’s how you are supposed to use Twitter. Sending out some of your own links on random topics. Thinking this is sort of a cool way to find out about stuff, and starting to realize that following more interesting people might lead to more interesting links.
Stage 3: Learning and Participating
-Starting to grasp the surface power of Twitter. Start getting most news from tweets. Actively seek to follow and learn from those who share personal/professional interests. Start retweeting interesting learnings, and attempting to share original content.
Stage 4: Conversing…
-Having meaningful 1:1 exchanges that go on for several tweets. Others join in. Still others retweet or reference the conversation thread. Stronger relationships form. Credibility rises as you become part of the community.
I feel like I’m just scratching the surface, and that there are other stages beyond this — for example, driving conversations that significantly impact Tweetsreams, but I haven’t experienced this on a personal level yet. I’d love to hear more thoughts on this!