I have a confession: I spend a lot of time on Twitter. In my defense, much of that time is spent working on behalf of clients or marketing Cookerly – at least from 9-5. We currently manage several clients’ presences on Twitter and Facebook, and strongly believe that to be successful on the social Web (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), you have to be continually active, providing content and engaging in conversation.
But my time on Twitter goes beyond the workday. I find myself logging in at all hours of the day and night to see what’s being shared by the 750 or so people I follow. For the 69 percent of adults who don’t fully understand what Twitter is – or why anyone would want to share 140 character updates with 750 strangers – maybe the best way to demonstrate its value is to share the top five things that I took away from my Twitter time this week.
- Interesting news bubbles to the top. Blue M&Ms can help cure spinal cord injuries. I know, it’s a random story with which to start, but it’s the type of news that sticks with you. If you haven’t yet seen the blue rat and read the story, check it out.
- Even if you are a social media expert, don’t call yourself one. Sounds silly, right? But it’s a hot topic among marketing experts online. What could inspire such debate? The crux of the issue is this: social media is the hot job arena right now, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. There are now huge numbers of “social media experts,” many of whom have never developed a client strategy around social media applications, or who don’t have any hands-on experience using them – personally or professionally.
- Twitter engagement works. While this was not a new realization for me, this week I got to experience the power of Twitter for one of my own local clients. A transit rider tweeted to The Clean Air Campaign, sharing his safety concerns about some sidewalk construction near a MARTA station. While The Clean Air Campaign (@CleanAirGA) doesn’t do sidewalk construction, all it took was a tweet back to him and the connection to those who could help. His response: “Thanks to all of you. I feel like such an empowered citizen.” The Clean Air Campaign has gained another brand evangelist who will spread the gospel to his network.
- PR is dying; It’s the best time to be in PR. Twitter is full of industry-specific content. The 140 character format allows me to skim and only read those things that most impact my work. An example of this is the debate this week on the value of PR agencies. In one camp are those who believe the social Web has changed the dynamic so much that PR agencies are not needed to get your story out. An equally vocal group claims that clients need agencies now more than ever. Me? I’m in the “it’s the best time to be in PR” camp, based on two main reasons: First, traditional media is not dead. A story in the Wall Street Journal is still the best way for some companies to earn credibility and drive sales. For others, direct communications with Facebook fans provides the best results. A PR agency provides strategic direction on which tool is right for you, and has the skills to get your story told. The second reason is time. Being successful on the social Web takes dedicated resources; and many companies don’t have the time for DIY. We do. We are the experts in storytelling – no matter the medium.
- You hear it here first. Brett Favre is staying retired. Like the blue M&M’s story, I learned this on Twitter first. In fact, the NFL chose to break the news on Twitter (@nfl) and the Vikings confirmed the news to the Associated Press through a text message. As a follower of professional football and a follower of how Twitter is being used, it was interesting to me.
So will the Twitter phenomenon last? I can’t say for sure. The next “shiny new thing” may be just around the corner. But today – and I would wager for some time to come – Twitter plays a major role how people get information, how they feel about brands and organizations, and even how and where they spend their money. Follow me for more musings from a social media enthusiast. That works, right?