Trisha R Jackson

Sales and Marketing in the Social World

Twitter Defined

Posted by trisharjackson on May 11, 2009

I am asked countless times to explain Twitter.  While a simple tool, it’s uses and definition are difficult to explain without just jumping in feet first with 140 characters. Everyone has their own use for Twitter – some personal, some professional and like tweets from @trisharjackson, a little of both.

Twitter is a real-time discussion of sorts called a microblog . You can choose to follow everyone tweeting, or be selective and search for those with interests similar to yours. Let me explain using the frequently asked questions I receive from friends and family.

How I find people to follow

I take a blended approach to Twitter because my goal is to build genuine relationships – get to know people on both a professional and personal level. I am a student of many things so those I follow are broad in scope. The topics I tweet about are as such as well. For example, here are the topics I tweet about and topics I search for most frequently:

I look for experts I want to learn from in each of the areas and then follow them. I start reading their tweets and engage in conversations with them if it’s something I’m interested in. I also look for questions that I can answer from my experiences. Twitter allows you to see who those experts are engaging with – yet another person YOU may be interested in following as well. And thus, expanding your social network.

Rather than tweeting about what I’m doing, I tweet about what I’m thinking about, what interests me today, and what information could be helpful to others that are following me with regards to the above content. The combination of my personal and professional tweets allows others to get to know me more personally rather than just my professional side of life.

When I Tweet

Twitter is just another communication tool for me.  It’s integrated into my life just as texting is for those who choose to use their phones to communicate.  With the help of Firefox and IE7’s tabs, Twitter stays up on my screen at all times. I tweet while waiting for reports to run, during lunch, during Webcasts and conference calls, and when I just need a break from mind-numbing daily tasks.  Twitter is my “smoke break”.

I’m constantly asked how I find the time to tweet.  Entering in 140 characters typing at a pace of 60 words per minute takes hardly 10 seconds for me.  That’s a pretty powerful stat considering that I read even faster.  Think of all of the information I’m consuming in that amount of time!

How I Keep Up with 1000+ Followers

First, Tweetdeck is incredibly helpful in categorizing my followers.  I concentrate on the local Columbus folks and those tweeting about social media primarily and then the others as a secondary read when I have a few minutes of extra down-time.  So in any given period, I can scan and read through about 60 tweets in under 2 minutes.  I mark those I want to refer to later as “favorites” and go back later on to read the blog post, article or engage with that person later for more information later on.

Second, I’m not a big fan of watching TV so I have plenty of time to go back and read the blog posts linked within my favorite tweets after my daughter goes to bed or before I leave for work in the morning.  Stoplights,  waiting for trains, and standing in line while shopping have also been great times to get caught up on tweets from my smart phone. I was once asked “what about Trish time?”  My response – this IS “Trish Time.”

Learning about the topics above, especially social media,  is a passion of mine so finding time to read about these things isn’t difficult.  It’s the same time one may use to knit, scrap, or play a board game.  It’s one of the ways I decompress from my work day.

Twitter vs IM vs Email vs Discussion Boards

Twitter provides a way to easily digest a lot of information in a short period of time.  It allows you to talk with many people across the globe that you may not have met through the other tools.  Here are the limitations I find with those:

  • IM:  Usually already have to know the person you want to chat with to obtain their screen name. Can only talk with that person, or a limited group of people (if invited into a chat room) and can’t see their interactions with others.
  • Email:  Not a conversation – a push/pull relationship.
  • Discussion Boards:  You actually have to read an entire post to get to the point, question or concern.

Twitter may not be for everyone but I can prove value to even the biggest skeptics.  My husband doesn’t want the world to know what he’s doing at any given point in time – and that’s fine.  He’s also missing out on those that could be interesting to him such as other classic country music buffs, high school football fanatics, and incremental revenue opportunities for his real estate appraisal business.  A topic of ROI we’ll discuss in a future post.

How to start

Step 1:  Sign up – use your full name as your username/handle. It’ll be easier for people to find you and help you build your personal brand.

Step 2:  Read through the Help area to learn the lingo, do’s and don’t s

Step 3:  Fill out your profile using keywords that will attract people to you. When they search, you’re more likely to then show up in the results.  For example, my keywords look like this: Social media |Digital Marketing|Mom|Buckeye fanatic|Travel|Wine|Athlete|Animal lover

Step 4:  Create a few tweets that are relevant to your expertise (topics in your profile/keywords) over the first few days while searching for people to follow

Step 5:  Find people to follow in the area (your keywords) you’re most interested in learning from. You can use the search box to the right of the Twitter main area.

Step 6:  Start the conversation!


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