Rob’s Twitter Guide

I wrote this at the end of 2008 – Then Twitter was still really new. Part of the fun of reading this again in 2011 is that most of what I predicted has worked out

The guide is full of stories about people like you. We hope if you need to convince your friend, your boss or your client to join you on Twitter, that we may be of some help. My personal feeling: Twitter may be the easiest way for an individual or even an organization to discover the power of the 2.0 world.

This guide was written on a wiki, i.e., it is designed as a web document first and foremost so every page and every element links back to other parts. So while there is a linear design to the guide and my thinking, it also allows you to go off in all sorts of directions. Wander away!

Doing more with less will be a reality for us all in 2009. Luckily, this is right up Twitter’s alley. So what is it? Simply put Twitter is a 140 character blog that enables you to connect to other people who also use it.

Doesn’t sound like much does it? But this simplicity is its power. Twitter has the power to change how you live and how you work. It has the power to change the culture of your organization. It is changing how we see the world and what news itself is. It offers fast rewards to newbie users. It becomes compelling while all the while remaining simple and light. And it does this all by “infection” rather than by force.

What we are discovering about Twitter is this:

  • In our busy world with email overload and multitasking, Twitter enables us to build and strengthen a network of real friend.
    • Having a Twitter world is like being in your favorite diner or bar surrounded by people you like and who like you. You don’t have to pay them attention but you can if you want and vice versa.
    • Jay Rosen, a journalism, well known blogger and Twitterer recently askedThe Twitterverse what Twitter meant to them. Their answer are fascinating – please look at the comments where people answer his question.
  • This network enables us to use the power of the “Network Effect” to reach into the wider world and get answers to important questions.
    • Breaking news for instance works best and fastest on Twitter – the Mumbai attack was fully covered in real time.
    • Market research or customer service is leveraged for both customer and service provider. I had a problem with my Typepad site the other day. I asked for help on Twitter. Within an hour I had be connected to the CEO and she had got an engineer onto my case. In the first ever test of Twitter as a marketing research tool, Jeremiah Owyang got instant feedback on the Ads on the last Superbowl. Now Twitter is becoming a vital component of research offering immense speed and scope for tiny costs.
    • The CEO of Zappos uses Twitter internally to build tighter cohesion and morale – more trust up and down the roganization offers an exponential improvement in speed and effectiveness.

So what is it? Here is a quick video by Lee Lefever of Commoncraft that does a great job of explaining how Twitter works.

If you want to know why Twitter is so compelling and why it works from a science perspective –the answers are here.

If you want to know why it may help you – here is an interview with “Pistachio,” a doyenne of the Twitterverse, (Laura Fitton).

Here is just a taste of the value she’s seeing in it:

1. Until Twitter came into vogue, most people I know had not heard of Laura Fitton. Nor had they heard of Pistachio Consulting. How did you spend most of your time before it was filled with sending & receiving little 140 character SMS messages?

Why would they? I lived under a rock.

Before I showed up in social media last spring I was under a rock called maternity. ThoughPistachio Consulting launched in 2002, “maternity” more or less ran from July 2005-March 2007. I can’t actually tell you much that happened in the world for that whole period.  During that period, I had two complicated pregnancies, a preemie, a blood infection, a stroke, a pretty Gltchy move from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and a series of layoffs for my husband. So if it seems like I came out of nowhere, that’s because I did. It was fun to see all this through new eyes, though……..

2. What drew you in to Twitter? What got you so engaged in it?

First, I don’t spend as much time Twittering as folks think. I sneak it in as micro-breaks from other work or activities.

I’d seen Twitter, tried it, pooh-poohed it, like anyone does. But a blogger I respect posted he was Twittering. His Twitter page was filled with useful and productive things he was doing, meetings he was taking, etc. I thought, “having this around will inspire me to do more in my work life.” It’s the oldest advice in the book — surround yourself with successful people.

Four days later I went to my first TweetUp, met some of the genuine rock stars of the Boston Social Media scene, and never looked back.

There’s another part though. You’ve blogged about Twitterville Mayor  Chris Brogan.  He’s extraordinary. I don’t know how he cultivates his community, does his work, writes his blog and still stays sane. More than anyone, Chris made a point of reaching out and encouraging me on Twitter, blogging and all the stuff I was playing with. By now a TON of people have given me serious help, recognition, encouragement and praise–but Chris was months ahead. If this has worked out well for me, he deserves a lot of the credit. Without his help you would not know me.

The next chapter – Best Practices is here

If you want to find people that you want to connect to here is where you go on Twitter.com to find them.

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