In my last post here on CT, I spoke of not being afraid to jump right into the social media pool and start paddling, not worrying about whether you really knew what was going on or what’s what. So I thought I’d continue that trend and talk (briefly) about that beacon of social media possibilities, lighting the way for all others, that pinnacle of Web 2.0 achievement, the place to be on the Net, because if you’re not–and we’re just being honest here, right?–you’re a nobody, a boob, and a general failure as a 21st century human being. Alright, a bit too far with that last one.
I’m talking about Twitter, my friends, and while I may have put the shine on a bit too thick just now, one might be remiss in underestimating the value and power of Twitter. Now I’m not going to tell you what Twitter is; everybody probably has at least a general idea of it, except perhaps David Letterman.
This isn’t a guide by the way, I figure that’s been done already, and more skillfully than I could probably manage. Also I realize that many of our readers will be familiar with all this, but maybe, just maybe, some of you don’t know. Maybe some of you are like Dave there, afraid of Twitter or anything social media-like. Let us not forget the beginner’s mind; it never hurts to review the basics right?
One of the complaints I’ve encountered when people talk about trying Twitter, or not as the case may be, is that they simply don’t know what to say. Or having said something, they fear they will look the fool for throwing it out there into the great Twittersphere. I understand; know that you are not alone friends, Twitter can be a little intimidating for some, and there is a non-trivial learning curve. I know after creating my Twitter account that I felt a bit overwhelmed and not a little confused by it all. Pile on top of that the fact that it’s kind of hard to follow conversations that you encounter with people you follow because they’re talking to someone else(this is less of a problem now, especially given the plethora of high quality Twitter clients available).
I introduced a close friend of mine to Twitter a while back, and noticed she wasn’t really tweeting much—OK, not at all really aside from her introductory, ‘Hey world!’—and since we communicate regularly through other means, like the primitive phone, I asked her why that was. She told me she wanted to tweet, but every time she brought up the update box, she just froze. She couldn’t think of anything important enough to say, and didn’t think anyone would be interested in what she was doing every minute of the day.
Behold, two common misconceptions regarding Twitter! You don’t have tweet about everything you do, and if you did, you would be right that no one would want to know what you’re doing every minute, and you would end up alone and followerless. But, if some of your friends were following you they might want to know that you are, (a) under the weather, (b) dying, or (c) just having a crappy day in general. Your tweets don’t have to be earth shattering revelations, or hot breaking news, unless perhaps you are @MSNBC (in that case carry on). You don’t have to sit and wait for the muse to hit you on top of the head with profound and pithy attestations (I looked at my word-a-day calendar this morning). Think of Twitter as a community of potential friends. I mean they don’t call it social networking for nothing right? Instead of worrying about being important or popular, why not share a link to a site or video you thought was interesting; if you thought it was interesting, somebody else just might as well. See an article that made you so angry you wanted to scream? Link it in a tweet, make others aware of it.
Keep in mind that we’ve been coming at Twitter from a more or less personal angle. More and more businesses are hopping on the social media wagon; maybe your company already has. It would behoove anyone in today’s market to familiarize themselves—at least somewhat—with the flexibility and power of Twitter, and other social media outlets. Earlier this year, Business Week put together a special report which speaks directly to executives on the wonders and possibilities of social media for their companies and/or brands.
And it’s not just larger corporations that are slowly realizing the benefits of social media involvement; small businesses are picking up on the vibes and possibilities well. Again from Business Week, this article discusses some advantages for business owners and tips on how to get started, and why. And if you check out that article you might notice the advice uncannily echoes a running theme in this post, and my last one: Don’t worry about the small stuff, jump on in and get wet.
Here are links to a couple of guides for Twitter. There are a gabillion of them on the Net, but these were most helpful to me. Good luck!