Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why I Love Twitter and You Should Too

In my quest to get back on track and practice what I preach about social media, blogging, and promotion I have been spending a lot of time with Twitter. I have been a member for some time. I have enjoyed using it. I have seen some of the possible benefits. I have amassed over 400 followers. But now it is time to get serious.

A few weeks ago, I spent an exciting week at IBPA and BEA. I met many other publishers and writers. I learned a lot about marketing, pr, promotion, publicity. I may even be beginning to understand the difference. I spent time speaking with people about blogs and twitter. I realized that I might know more than I thought. I realized that the learning curve can be quite steep and it should not be. I spent much of the social time talking to other writers about twitter. I explained it as such:

"Twitter is like an on-line cocktail party. You just show up and see what people are talking about and you are encouraged to pipe up and join in. And you can go away for a while and come back and join back in. You can spend a little time or a lot of time. You can listen to others and learn things. You can sit back and watch the rowdy, egotistical drunk guy try to be really popular. You try to stay away from the boring guy that always talks about himself. Try really hard NOT to be that guy. You can hear what is happening right now. You can promote yourself or your book a little (remember Don't Be That Guy). You can make friends. You can find entertaining little things that you weren't even looking for. You can add to the conversation. Your friends might grow to really like you and promote you (and hence your book). You can enjoy this and maybe get something out of it at the same time."

I may have convinced a few people. I hope that they follow through and start using it as the "platform" it can be. It made me think of my own transition from twitter-doubter to twitter-lover.

When I first heard of twitter, I thought, as many do, how dumb.
Who needs this?
Who would use this?
What a time suck.

The first few months of finding interesting people to follow, gathering followers and tweeting were a back and forth between, "this is kinda coo" and any one of the things I originally thought. Now when I look back at my early tweets, I definitely wasn't quite "getting it."

I can't promise that I get it any better now. But it is fun, addictive, informative, and possibly a good source of pr buzz for later. With that in mind, I have been learning by doing, but also reading. There are many articles out there to give you an idea of it, here are some of my favorites:

General Information:
Jenuine Jen explains it all much better than I have and does so much earlier (you early adopter you). She states what it is, why you care and gives great, concrete examples about how it could be useful beyond the banal "washing my cat" kind of post.

Etiquette and "How it Works" so you don't embarrass yourself:
Broadcasting Brain tells how to get followers - key point is "be your authentic self" - we have all heard that before, but it needs repeating. Be your authentic self. I also really enjoy his analogy, although I have always said twitter was like a cocktail party. But I take his point and revise my earlier comparison and say a really big and really friendly cocktail party.

Cool Applications
There are many applications to help you utilize twitter. Days could be spent going through these and I plan to highlight some of my favorite finds later. Most just require your twitter account and possibly your password. I am free with my password, but I am sure there are some who would advise against it. My advice here is to look at this list and play around with what you find interesting.

Mainstream Media taking note:
The mainstream media is taking note. There was a great article in Time magazine: How Twitter will Change the Way We Live. My favorite section details the use of twitter during a small conference on education. The article goes on to state the strengths of twitter (social networks, live searching and link-sharing) and the amazing development of the way it is used by the users. Very interesting reading.

Super Fresh News and Making a Difference:
After the events of the last few days in Iran, it is impossible not to see how effective twitter can be at giving the underdog a voice, at spreading a message world wide and perhaps in making a difference.

Many people think Twitter is lame. Many people don't get how it works. Maybe it is not for everyone. Maybe something better is coming around the corner that will connect us all. For the meantime, this explains why I have changed from a twitter-doubter to a twitter-lover. At least for now.


Mark Dykeman said...

Thanks for the link love. I know some people prefer the coffee shop or cocktail party metaphors, but it seems too big to me for those. To each their own. :)

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