Twitter can be a pretty daunting place. Now that it has become somewhat known and a celebrity in its own right, other celebrities want to associate themselves with it. Many companies and brands are now on Twitter as well. Having a Twitter account may be all the rage, however there is something to be said for the power of focus.
Consider this - Twitter is
- searchable content
- a series of micro impressions
- a presence tool
- a social network
- an information hub
- an idea exchange
- always "on"
- quick, short, and not always on the mark
- sound bites where you provide the context
- and more... (feel free to add)
Keeping up with it all is not impossible, yet it may be foolish, especially if you are planning a strategy around your participation. Your focus then depends on what you want to accomplish. We've discussed business uses and we asked if it was time for corporations to have a presence on Twitter. We also talked about the role of Twitter in brand management.
While when I asked why you joined Twitter, many people talked about joining the conversation, sharing resources, and meeting others as the top reasons for doing so, I do wonder if there is a measurement associated with that goal. And if it matters.
One of the reasons for my participation is connecting people, so I work on finding ways to make introductions during conversations to help others build a network and find content/ideas.
Companies and organizations generally join for slightly different reasons. Some of which are:
- competitors are there
- agency said it was a good idea
- everyone is talking about it
- opened an account to reserve company name
- and more...
However, once people sign up as representatives of an organization, especially if that company does not have a clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish, people tend not to participate actively. One of the reasons might be that Twitter does not scale well in commercial terms before your stream becomes a string of commerce.
A company wants to market and is trying not to spam, yet representatives may not have the time to dedicate effort and attention to learning through observation and experimentation. All learning happens through participation. This is especially important for social media - emphasis on social. See for example how media people are using Twitter.
The burning question is about who you should follow. I'd suggest people (and/or organizations):
- who produce and share useful content
- who fit within your stated interest
- you already know in real life or through their blogs
- who are interested and curious
- and more... (feel free to add)
The other thought is that as you use the tool and discover other ways to engage with people there, your strategy may change. What started as an experiment to observe and learn could become an important part of your integrated marketing communications.
There has been quite an evolution with blogging, why wouldn't there be one with Twitter? One of the important layers online in addition to content and community is commerce. Twitter as a CRM tool would be quite messy, however. It needs to be integrated by respecting its intended role and usefulness.
How do you decide who you continue to follow? I follow people who engage in conversations with me and provide an opportunity to interact.
Because conversations between many parties are really hard to track on Twitter proper, it takes more effort to organize such opportunities. I've worked on many formats so far, and have yet to crack the code. FriendFeed is better for that, but it has not reached critical mass for me.
However you decide what your strategy is, do dive in - there's no better way to figure it out, than to do it for yourself. And do pay extra care to being clear and explicit on Twitter, because the truth is 140 characters.
[image courtesy of Thomas Hawk]