Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Twitter is the ‘micro-blogging’ service that has grown to 3m users wordwide in less than 3 years because it provides the simplest social communication platform around. It’s used by kids, pensioners, young adults, well – everyone. It’s being used by business as well. Here’s how.
The beauty of Twitter is that it is simple. You can post messages up to 140 characters only (if you’re using standard English characters, less in more complex character sets like Arabic) – but this limitation is part of it’s success. Messages (known as tweets) are short, to the point, and easily consumed/scanned. So only concise updates are possible. Great stuff – because you can see only what you need to see. A breath of fresh air?
The way Twitter works is by ‘following’ other users (or Tweeters), and by being ‘followed’ by other Tweeters. Updates from the Tweeters you follow are presented in a list on page. It’s common for the updates to include links into websites, blogs, etc so you can read more about what interests you.
You have the option of disclosing your updates to anyone who chooses to follow you. The profile you setup may give enough reason for people to choose to do that, or you can encourage people to follow you like I do on my blog. Any number of people can follow you. In fact as at June 08, one guy had 7,379 followers. Equally, there is no limit on the number of other Tweeters you can follow – the highest number in June 08 was 2,204. I’m not sure how I’d find that number of updates helpful to me!
You also have the option of protecting your updates so that only people you approve can see them. So the choice is yours to show the world, or only your acquaintances.
Why I think this is a powerful business tool is that it is a viable alternative to email for communicating what you’re doing. It’s a broadcast service, rather than individual messages. It’s much more accessible (and fun) than email to boot.
Moreover, Twitter enables us to create presence . Presence is important as it builds your profile – an essential asset in the modern business climate. If you have presence, then you have an opportunity to market yourself, what you’re doing, your product/service and the value you create – it’s an aspect of your personal brand .
Relationship building is an equally valuable aspect of Twitter. It’s common (if not expected) that if someone follows you, you recicprocate by following back. I recommend this – if a Tweeter has chosen to follow you then it’s likely to be for a good reason, e.g. they are interested in what you have to say about your subject matter, product, service, etc. Following each other forms the basis of a relationship.
One last benefit of Twitter I’d like to share is it supports the creation of a Knowledge Network . Like-minded users come together through Twitter to establish a nucleus of thought, creativity and knowledge. Twitter, unlike many other platforms, is extremely dynamic and enables fellow Tweeters to exchange thoughts rapidly.
There are probably many other benefits of Twitter I haven’t even thought of. I just know I love it as it is so convenient and well structured. How do you feel about it?
6 thoughts on “Using Twitter As A Business Communication Tool”
I am still in two minds about Twitter – is it an another arrow for the social media bow or just a distracting waste of time?
One practical use I can see is as a Question taking tool which holding a teleconference. Much quicker than email (as long as the Tweet servers stay up… they do get bashed quite hard) for interacting with the host.
I also get some blog traffic from curious tweeters.
Agree entirely on knowledge network. I would have to add that twitter makes it very easy to bring out the humanity of an individual. I would also say that this is what people really look for. Are you pimping your product and blog? Sure, no problem, but make sure your followers don’t end up thinking of you as a Press Release generator. Twit about your personal life, your project, interject semi-private messages, demonstrate your fears somehow, and you become really human in the eyes of your follower. This allows them to create an emotional bond with you as a human being, and this will reinforce the impact of your “press releases” (which should be few and far between).
@Mark: It can be distracting. But distractions are useful, no? They let you take a step back and see what’s really going on. The worse you can do is charge headlong in the wrong direction. Better to stop and re-orient every once in a while, no? Well, interacting on twitter gets you a very good feel of where the herd is heading right now. Reading your blog-feeds can do that to some extent, but the twits are more immediate.
@Chris – I hear you. I’m currently restricting my Twits, Stumbleupon and linkedIn (Q&A) tasks to before 8am and after 10pm-ish as part of an offline personal productivity drive.
I recall Paul Colligan (a mover and shaker in the Podcast world IIRC) saying that no point replying to tweets older than 5 minutes… coz nobody’s reading them. (Thoughts?)
Before I heard of Paul I was replying to tweets received the previous day… almost like email!!
(Ah, text BBS – those were the days. I still have the 2400bps Datatronics “pocket modem” aka brick I took with me to try and send short text-only emails from Hong Kong to UK back in the stone age (1990). lol)
@Mark: I disagree on the replying to tweets less than 5 minutes. I think that if what you say is insightful and/or genuine, people will listen. If I tweet something like:
Oh, I’m so far behind. I’m reading last night’s tweets from @SomeBloke and can’t seem to catch up.
then people will really get an understanding of my mood and state of mind.
Twitter is about making connections with other human beings. Anything that can strengthen the heart-to-heart is good stuff.
Text BBS was so expensive… I remember paying something like $120/month in 1994… insane! At least I had 14400… Remember netsplits?
On personal productivity. I put in twitter what I’m working on (coding, mostly) and that motivates me, as if in the back of my mind I imagine the whole world watching me (well, my 37 followers at least…).
Wouldn’t the relevance/currency of a tweet be dependent on the tweeter?
@simonstapleton: If the tweeter is irrelevant, why are you still subscribed? Prune the Tweet Tree.