Archive for October 8th, 2008

Using Twitter - The Basics

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

If you already use Twitter, take a second to click here and follow me on Twitter, and if you are so inclined, follow the Twitter account for The Hotel Experience , a blog I manage at work.

Now onto business. . .

What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows users to post updates of a maximum of 140 characters, similar to a Facebook update. It is extremely popular in marketing and sales channels and has actually proved quite effective in communicating about large group events, such as natural disasters, the presidential debates, conferences, etc.

Who should use Twitter?
If you are online more than once a day, creating content that you would like to share with others, an all around people person, or just into self-promotion, you should be on Twitter. Bloggers use it promote their latest blog posts. Political candidates use it to communicate with supporters. .

I was recently part of a panel on social networking for MBA students. In the short time we had, we focused mostly on LinkedIn, which I will talk about more in the future. However, we did not have a significant amount of time to discuss Twitter, which I thought was unfortunate, because students can use Twitter to network and build connections in their desired fields much faster than they can through blogging or normal networking events. I should qualify that though with the fact that building strong connections on Twitter can be quite difficult, so new users should take time to really interact with people they are following and make sure that they can maintain a long term, meaningful discussion with fellow twitterers. I have many weak connections on Twitter and only a few strong connections, but for the most, all of the people I follow on Twitter are of interest to me just as the people you follow should be of interest to you.

Twitter Strategy:
Initially, you should upload your address book to Twitter to see how many people you know that are using it. Follow them. If you like, you can invite people that are not using it, but many people find that to be annoying. I know because I’ve done it on accident before. Then, begin searching Twitter for keywords that are relevant and interesting to you. For example, I have searched previously for “Hilton,” “Hotels,” “Bellevue,” “Pratum,” etc.

You will probably start out following a ton of people and with very few following you. That’s ok. You’re new and likely have not built your reputation yet. It’ll come. Personally, I find it difficult to follow more than 100-200 people on Twitter, and you can often tell, who follows far to many people. Those are usually the ones that, when you ask a question to your followers, don’t respond. . . ever. Some people follows thousands. I don’t know how.

Twitter Resources I Use:
Twhirl is a desktop client that you can use for Twitter. It is probably the most popular Twitter client.
Digsby is a messaging client that supports Twitter and multiple other services. Some people really like it.
Twitterfox is a Firefox add-on and my personal favorite in a Windows environment.
Flock is a web browser focused on social networking and my personal favorite for using Twitter on macs.
There is a you can use to update your Facebook status with your tweets.
Twitterfeed automatically tweets to let everyone know about your latest blog post.
Tweetlater can be used to schedule tweets and direct messages, as well as to send a form message to new followers.
MyTweeple.com shows the people you are following and whether or not they are following you. Want to get your ratio of following to followers more in balance? Use it.
Twitter badges can be added to your blog, myspace profile, etc to show what you have recently tweeted.
Twittercounter also has a badge (as seen on the right side of my page) that shows how many people are following you.

Wrap Up:
Use Twitter. To get started, sign up, follow me and other people relevant to you, and download a client to use Twitter with.

Twitter is fast. Through tweets, news spreads like wildfire. Make effective use of Twitter, and you can position yourself well in your field. . . or at least have some entertaining interaction. ;-)

Other Twitter Info:
Slate’s Write Up
Twitterholic - The most popular twitterers
Top 10 Twitter Hacks
Top 10 Uses of Twitter

Oversights?
For all those out there already using Twitter, I would be curious to know what your thoughts are. Please share them here so that people new to Twitter can get your insight as well as mine. Please also share links to your blog posts on the topic and to your Twitter account.