Social Media: Twitter

By Kevin Curry, Command Consulting part 2 of a 3 part series. Also see Facebook/LinkedIn and Blogging.

Last month we talked about how blogging can help your company tell its story and promote itself. But is it possible to actually promote your company in 140 characters or less?

Microblogging. Group texting. CB radio for texting. All of those phrases have been used to try and describe what Twitter is and how it works. The best way to understand it, though, is to try it out. Because there are many different ways to “use” Twitter for your business or personally. Here are the basics:

  • Twitter allows you to send 140 character long messages to people that “Follow” you.
  • At the most basic, Twitter asks “What are you doing now?”
  • You can also Follow other people’s Twitter alerts (called Tweets).
  • You can post links to websites, videos and photos posted online.
  • On the Twitter site, you can search by terms to see what others are saying on a particular topic, and to find people with similar interests to Follow.
  • Your Twitter alerts can be set-up to automatically update your Facebook status and to post on the sidebar of your blog.
  • Tweets can be sent via the Twitter site or by connecting your cell phone to Twitter and texting alerts. You can also have your alerts delivered to your phone via text message.

How do business people use Twitter to promote themselves and their work? First, it is used to alert people of new products, sales, new blog posts, awards and accomplishments. Second, many use it in a hybrid personal/corporate manner to help build their brand by giving followers an inside look at their life and activities.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, is a prime example of this latter use. While some companies, like Home Depot, Nike and GM, Twitter only about sales, offers and the like, Hsieh Twitters about what he is doing. Take St. Patrick’s Day, Hsieh was leaving the SXSW Conference and posted the following, “At Austin airport. Thought about pinching TSA for not wearing green today but decided I really wasn’t in the mood to go to jail.”

Certainly not about Zappos.com, but Hsieh’s open tweeting has led to a legion of followers and pulled the veil back on the life of one of America’s most successful CEO’s. When a quarter of a million people follow you on Twitter, you’re doing something interesting. And like blogging, Zappos.com encourages their employees to tweet as well.

Kevin York at Art4orm is using Twitter as part of an integrated social media strategy to promote the website NewHomeSales.com. “Twitter is used to educate buyers and post news events about the home building industry,” York says. “Our goal is to reach out to anyone looking for a new home in Oregon and Washington.”

For the curious, the best way to figure Twitter out is to do it. Sign on to Twitter.com and start an account. If you’re still nervous, check out the step-by-step “how to” from Zappos.com CEO Hsieh at http://twitter.zappos.com/start.

Kevin Curry is a partner in Command Consulting. You can follow his online social media in these places: Twitter: twitter.com/KevinCurry; Blog: www.CommandOregon.com

Twitter Tips and Tactics

  • Give people quality information in addition to personal musings. Send links to articles, blogs or videos you found interesting and tell them why they should read them.
  • Decide your level of involvement in Twitter. It can be confusing and consuming at first, so give it time to figure out how it works for you.
  • Twitter is a great way to get news alerts. Most news organizations have Twitter feeds. The Oregonian, for example, has four feeds, News Updates (twitter.com/Oregonian), Politics (twitter.com/OregonianPol ), Sports (twitter.com/OregonianSports), Entertainment (twitter.com/OregonianEnt), and Business (twitter.com/OregonianBiz).
  • “Push” your Twitter updates to other social media, like having them update your Facebook status or post to the sidebar of your blog. See www.LyonFilms.com/blog for an example of the latter.
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