So what are people like you using twitter to do, and why?
Here are some examples given by respondents to my Twitter Survey in January. I’ve added in a few of my own too.
I’m making a list of all the twitter users who replied to my survey (except those who wished to remain anonymous) and when this is complete I’ll link to it from here.
Twitter is a very open network and is extremely popular in the US and UK in particular.
Anyone can search twitter for keywords/subjects/locations and this is one of the best ways to find new people. As a result you can be talking about something of interest with people anywhere in the world.
At the same time, you can make contact with local people who use twitter by searching for mentions of your location or searching profile locations. You don’t need to meet people face to face, or know someone who knows someone, to find new people to get in touch with.
One of my respondents has a radio show, and twitter helps demonstrate the local relevancy of their broadcasts.
Because there are a huge range of people on twitter all conversing in a public space, you can listen in, learn about them and join a conversation with people you may never have come across in real life.
Twitter is an excellent connecting device. If you mention someone in your tweet using their @handle everyone who sees that tweet (reading your stream, searching, also being mentioned in the same tweet) will see the handle, can click on it and check out the person. They might then decide to follow them or tweet them direct.
If you want to introduce two people on twitter, just include their handles in the same tweet. Quick, effective and time saving. Both parties can click the others’ handle, check them out (and what they tweet about) and decide whether to take it further. I find twitter much easier to use to make introductions than any other social media platform.
Once you get connected and if the time is right, you might want to meet the other person ‘in real life’. You might invite them to join your Linkedin network. You might get ideas for how to collaborate.
Because twitter is so open, new relationships can be created where none existed before ‘In Real Life’. Try searching for topics that interest you and see who you can meet!
People talk about all sorts on Twitter. This means that once you’re following someone you naturally learn more about them over time. You learn who they know, when they are about, what their interests are. You learn what concerns them, what needs they have, what passions. You’re there to help when you can, and when you can’t you can pass on their request by Retweeting. And all the time people are learning about you too.
How do you define your friends? Do you have to have met them in real life? Surprisingly it isn’t always necessary. If its not possible – and for many it never will be, your friends don’t have to be the people you can meet regularly face to face.
People make friendships naturally on twitter because they naturally congregate into loose groups of similar interest. Twitter isn’t just a ‘business’ or ‘personal’ network like Linkedin or Facebook are often described – it bridges those destinctions across time. Its mobile nature means many people tweet in between work and home and vice versa. And they talk to the same people, just for a short while, every day. This is how strong friendships are forged.
Because people of all ages and interests are using twitter, you can search out people with whom you have things in common, or they will find you. Just start tweeting about things which interest you, and interested people who come across your profile and say hello.
Some of my twitter friends have formed a blogging group called @birdsontheblog. They are all business women and they share their experiences on the blog, tweeting about it and having conversations on facebook. The group has only been going for a few months but already new friendships and alliances are being formed and the group have decided to get involved in charitable work together.
Getting in touch quickly
Paul Wilkinson often says that people reach him quicker on twitter than via email. Email has become a spam attractor, and working your way through messages, responding at length, can be very time consuming. Conversely, active twitter users often have DMs set to text message them, and check out their @replies regularly through the day. If you want to get in touch with someone, what better than a quick tweet?
Telling People what you’re doing
Why is it a good idea to tell people on twitter what you’re up to?
- Because they don’t know;
- Because no-one can introduce people they don’t know about, people need to know about you to introduce you;
- Because everything you say is searchable so people interested in what you do will find you via search or referral from someone else who knows what you do;
- Because you can tell hundreds or thousands of people at once, and if they don’t want to know they can opt out; and
- Because telling people what you are doing, what you know and care about, builds up your brand association with those things.
Customer Relations/ Reputation management
Many big firms have successfully turned twitter into a customer service tool – Domino’s Pizza and BTCare come to mind. As a corporate, twitter gives you a personality, a ‘human face’.
But you don’t have to be a big firm to look after your customers on twitter. If they are twitter users you can keep in touch with what they are thinking and feeling, respond directly to their needs.
Happy customers make great advocates for your business.
“I once griped about thetrainline.co.uk website on twitter. the same day I got a tweet from them saying they were fixing the glitch – very impressive.”
Twitter is great for raising you profile and establishing your reputation. Being able to discuss the topics of your specialism means you can reinforce that status.
Twitter brings a human face to any brand.
Major news sites have twitter accounts and stories often break on twitter, but you can also share your own news, corporate or personal. The newsworthy it is, the more likely it will be retweeted. If people retweet your news you know they find it interesting – instant feedback!
Many companies have taken to including twitter in their PR strategy. The difference with twitter is that it is a conversation – don’t spam a journalist on twitter with your press release. Better to find and follow journalists of interest, get to know them and wait until they ask for help. Either you can help them or maybe your contacts can? Retweeting their request will help everyone.
News on twitter is also not subedited by the trade journals or conventional media. You can hear about news that doesn’t make it to the mainstream press. We can make our own news, so for example if you follow a list of UK construction people like I do you can get a really good flavor of what they are thinking at any time. Because it is a conversation, not a broadcast, you’ll also be able to join in the discussion, share opinion and take action.
Because twitter is entirely opt-in/opt-out, promotion becomes so much less stressful. If you want to offer a special deal, you can tweet it to your followers and they can share it. If people don’t want your special deals, they can unfollow you. If you find some customers do and some don’t, set up a separate account for special deals and that segment of your audience can choose to follow that account.
Events and twitter are great bedfellows. As well as enabling people around the world to attend your event, especially if you live stream presentations and use a #hashtag, you can promote the event in advance, share offers and news about presenters, link to news stories in the press and on a facebook page or blog, live tweet the event and get twitter users at the event to help with this, follow up the event with introductions, references, links and documentation. This way you get more attendees in person plus huge publicity and a great deal of good will from the twitter community which you can build on for future events.
Tie twitter in with Coveritlive, Ustream and Slideshare and your audience can get a real flavor of the event – next time they’ll want to be there in person, and they’ll know where to find you easily if they want to ask about the next event.
Being Somewhere Else
Using twitter I have attended numerous conferences and events I wasn’t able to attend in person. Some of these I ‘live tweeted’ to my followers and helped the events gain publicity, new attendees, sponsorship.
Most of my time spent on social media is on the train or in between bursts of more conventional work, time which in other ways is wasted. I can use that time to network – introduce people, help people, develop relationships and attract customers.
Plenty of people use twitter to dawdle, muse, surf, browse and generally not do what they are supposed to be doing. If you tend to do this anyway, try and keep focused on a purpose – what are YOU doing here?
Discovering Brilliant Minds
People using twitter properly are likely to be conversational and gregarious, whether they are famous, highly respected, experts, or Mr Normal, whoever they are. They tweet their concerns and interests and you can contact them direct. They can choose whether to reply, but what an opportunity? Remember to respect their time – don’t ask them to help you, see if you can help them. This is how to begin a relationship.
One thing twitter has taught me is that the human race is infinitely varied. We all have our own interest, foibles and specialisms. We all have a slightly different perspective to offer. Whatever you need there is someone on twitter who can help you.
One of my respondants only uses twitter to voice opinions which he doesn’t feel have an audience elsewhere. You can get things off your chest! One could see this aspect of twitter as being rather threatening, especially to the carefully tended brand of a corporation, but the fact is that opinions are being shared on twitter about a myriad of things, and by listening in you can cost effectively tap into the sentiment of many thousands of people.
CrowdSourcing – Ideas – Learning – Advice – Research
You can use twitter for “almost anything that involves having access to a lot of people”, and that includes CrowdSourcing.
Share new ideas, test them out, find people to put them into practice,get help quickly and easily
Learn about anything you want to – just ask!
Need help or advice? Need an answer? Radio Presenter Richard Bacon says whenever he has a question (like for example about his boiler) he only needs to get on twitter and loads of people are helping, recommending people.
People share information on twitter all the time. This is in spite of the 140 character limit which the mainstream media is so hung up about. With twitter you can share a link to anything on the internet.
What this means is that you can ask twitter for information about something – a product they recommend for example, and be sent links to product information online, reviews, discounts, you may even be contacted by particular brands sending you offers.
Recently I asked for help finding an historic buildings specialist and received a dozen recommendations in a few hours.
The hugely successful be2camp organization was founded after a twitter conversation spanning three continents. Paul Wilkinson, Pam Broviak, Martin Brown and Jodie Miners realized there was a need for people working with our built environment to use the internet to improve it – and that between them they could find enough people to hold an ‘unconference’. Two years later Be2camp has hundreds of members and has held its own events all over the UK, supported many other events and started a wave of built environment collaboration which covers everything from google maps mashups, through planning consultation and sustainability to virtual worlds. Be2camp has become a worldwide community of like minded professionals.
Laughing out loud
You’ll find people laughing on twitter all the time. It’s a great place to feel positive.
Some may say that this makes it trivial but I beg to differ. The people you laugh with are your friends. They are the people who help you when you need it.
”This may sound overly pie in the sky philosophical, but i think twitter’s place in the world is much higher level than it’s often given credit for. It’s basically connecting the human race on a personal level never previously achieved, and will undoubtedly have profound effects on our social behaviour in the future, which up until recently was becoming more and more insular. Twitter might have actually have saved the human race :-p “
So, what have we missed out?
Image: Whisper by GreenPlastic875