I’ve been asked by intelligent people why I bother with Twitter.
The short answer, for me, is — marketing. But, it’s not only marketing and that glib answer will hardly suffice for those who really are seeking to understand the phenomena. I passed 7,000 followers this past week, and I consider that an accomplishment. Now, not everybody needs to have that kind of Following, in fact, depending on your goals, 100 or less might be exactly what you want. Your goals with Twitter will be different if you’re playing for yourself, or for an organization. They’ll be different depending on your personal desires. This post is more about how and why an individual might get to Tweeting, see my 7 reasons below.
And can we please dispel the myth that Twitter is about “what I’m doing right now?” I think that was where Twitter started, but it is certainly not where the technology is now. Protestors in Egypt and Tunisia used Twitter to communicate and share, for example, so in my view it’s a full bore communications media. Yes, it’s 140 characters, but with the add-on tools, and links, it’s really the front end to… anything. By the way, my Twitter ID is: @greggfraley
Here are the 7 Reasons To Use Twitter:
1.) It provides a listening window. I can listen to people communicate about a wide variety of subjects. If one wants to be culturally aware Twitter is a power tool. I listen for data on trends, on news, and on the companies, products, and concepts I’m interested in. Unlike Facebook there is no expectation that you are truly “friends” with your followers or those you follow. You might be, but it’s what they say and share that you are interested in. Some Twitter users have a rule about only following a close knit group — and that’s fine — but not my strategy. Do you have a tight knit group of friends you’d like to share more with? Use Twitter. Do you have a global network of people interested in growing garlic? Use Twitter.
2.) You can share what you’re thinking or what you’ve learned. I share short observations about my expertise area which might be interesting to others. I also share interesting news items or blog posts or bits of humor. My longer format observations, like this blog, can also be alluded to, and promoted/linked to, from Twitter. It’s a way to connect to my audience and publish something — without the hassle of publishers. Twitter is, after all, micro-blogging.
3.) It helps you sell yourself. As a published author with a book, I have a product on the market. Publishers leave author’s to their own devices for the most part when it comes to actually selling a book. Twitter gives me a way to find an audience and build a relationship. You might also call it a “platform”. As I build a reputation on Twitter — regarding an expertise — I am building a fan base that might support my book, and my future books. This needs to be balanced, as my followers aren’t just interested in hearing about my book. I need to be interesting first, then down the road I have a soft selling opportunity. Speak of the devil, my book is Jack’s Notebook, a business novel about creative problem solving.
4.) Twitter is a great way to network. I find people who will review my book, or, use it in classes, courses, and workshops. I put out a Tweet periodically offering a free copy in exchange for a review and usually get a couple takers. I also network with people in my area of expertise, creativity and innovation. I’ve even done mini-brainstorming sessions using Twitter. Of particular note is the #innochat dialog that happens every Thursday, where I chat on Twitter with innovation experts around the world. By the way, he pound sign (#) is called a “hashtag” and it’s a way to find tweets related to topics. So, you’d search on #innovation if you were interested in seeing those sorts of tweets.
5.) It’s a creative challenge. While I’m not a constant tweeter, I do try to communicate to my Twitter universe at least a few times a day. It’s a creative challenge that I rather relish, how to say something meaningful and short, and provide a bit of value. Value can be data, a link, an observation, an inspiration, or just plain fun.
6.) You can ask questions. Twitter provides a great way to do a bit of on-the-fly research. What do you tweeple know about this innovation conference in Berlin in May? What’s the best free database? How do I get started with home wind power? I’ve gotten some interesting and useful answers from Twitter — and sometimes in mere seconds.
7.) You stay connected. Working from home, traveling for business, Twitter is one way to stay connected. For family I’d probably just text or phone, but for the wider circle of contacts, Twitter is appropriate.
Why do you use Twitter? Or not? Tell me!