Derek gave me the opportunity to guest post on his blog. He suggested writing about the basics of Twitter and how to get started with it. So this post is geared towards people who are interested in getting started with Twitter but might need some more convincing and direction.
Twitter: an analogy
I want you to picture an eclectic networking event. One filled with celebrities, PR professionals, online marketers, chefs, food experts, sports enthusiasts, moms, entrepreneurs, social activists, business workers, locals, comedians, journalists and more. Cram all of these people into one room and include a massive stage with a live booming mic. Each individual uses the mic at least once and shares a 5-10 second sound bite of their most favourite idea or topic.
Would you be interested in attending an event like this if it happened once a year or even once a month? What if admission was free?
Well, this event happens every day online, and it’s called Twitter.
The Rise of Twitter
Twitter and Facebook grew in popularity at about the same time however Facebook’s user base and adoption rate increased at ridiculous amounts whereas Twitter hit a bit of a plateau. Although Twitters’ total user base is at 75M and growing, about 10-15M are active. If you take a look around and notice the new emerging tools that we’re using to communicate, you’ll see that this trend isn’t going away. On another note, Facebook is organized around friends, whereas Twitter is about ‘followers’, who most likely don’t know you, but share similar ideas.
So Why Should I Join?
If you hold the belief that networking is good for your career or for your personal ambitions, then something like Twitter will appeal. Not to mention, it’s also a fun place to spend time. If you’re not interested in meeting and talking to new people or finding new sources of aggregated news and information, then Twitter is not for you. And that’s fine.
Ok, You’ve Got Me Interested. But Does it Apply to my Field?
I really do believe that there are a few keys groups of people who can use Twitter as an asset. Let me try to highlight a few and explain why.
Twitter for Personal Brands
If you’re an individual who is looking to establish any kind of presence in your field, you can use Twitter to develop a following and become known as an expert. Make sure to interact, engage and share valuable content with your followers and soon they will look to you for expert advice. You can do this in any industry and in any geography. My suggestion is to start locally and find people who are in your field.
Twitter for Business – big or small
Any business can use Twitter in countless ways. One that stands out immediately is customer service. A company called Freshbooks sent flowers to a customer who was having a bad day. Needless to say she shared her appreciation to her network almost right away. If you have ‘raving’ fans, give them the opportunity to talk about your brand on your behalf. Talk to them and meet their needs. Not to mention, Twitter is also a great tool to personalize a business image.
In addition to customer service, you can use Twitter as a sales and branding tool. You want to make sure though, that you’re not continuously bombarding your following with sales material. Instead use it to promote your highly relevant content. Eventually, your followers will spread the word.
Twitter for Amateur Journalists
Even if you don’t feel like participating in the Twitter conversation, you can use it at the very least to find new articles, links and news stories. Twitter is a community of amateur journalists all reporting live on major events. At the very least you’ll be ahead of your peers and even the media for news stories.
Twitter for Instant Messaging
Sometimes you just want to send a message over to one of your friends or followers on Twitter. You can use it solely as a communication tool with the option to ‘direct message’ any of your followers.
Twitter for Social Activists
If you’re looking to change the world or educate the masses, then Twitter is a great tool to keep track of conversations around your social movement. If we look at the recent events in Egypt, we can’t neglect the influence that Twitter had with regards to enabling communication among the people.
Twitter for Celebrities
Are you a celebrity? You should be on Twitter right away. Talk and engage with your fans. They want to hear from you. Do you want to be a celebrity? If you have a talent, use Twitter to showcase it. Develop a following around your talent and get them to spread the word. Justin Bieber, the Stratford ON wonder kid, created a large part of his fan base using online media, including Twitter.
So we’ve talked about what Twitter is and discussed its brief history and how it applies to different groups of people. If you’re ready to get started with Twitter and want to at least try it out, then the next post will definitely interest you. It will be a video series on how to use Twitter and how to get started. Stay tuned.
About the author: Zaid Rasid is the founder of the internet marketing blog Better Social* Skills. He provides expert social media, lead generation & brand awareness advice to small and medium sized businesses. For a practical look at how online marketing can work for you, visit www.zaidrasid.com
or follow him on twitter: www.twitter.com/zaidrasid