Greg Hazley at O'Dwyer's had the unenviable job of trying to distill the concept of Twitter to a relatively brief commentary. The result is an article titled, "Twitter Chatter."
One of the big ironies about Twitter is that it limits users to post their missives in no more than 140 characters, but the concept itself is impossible to explain quickly. Whenever I've tried to describe it, the person on the other side of the table leans forward and asks, "And then what?"
Twitter is another one of those next big things in the Social Media space. I was exposed to it by my client, Ed Schipul of Schipul - The Web Marketing Company, who is consistently the earliest of early adopters. The concept is that Twitterers post briefs that answer the question, "What are you doing now?" If this is the first time you've heard of it, you may be leaning forward and raising your eyebrows wondering who in the world could care less and who has the time for such silliness?
As I do with almost all Social Media trends (I have an "active" presence to varying degrees on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube,, LinkedIn, Second Life and Twitter), I tested the waters on Twitter and found it harmless enough. I found it was a good way of keeping track of a few of the key journalists who post there. I also found that links posted on Twitter serve as linkbacks, which can help a Web site's search engine performance.
But it wasn't until Greg Hazley, a writer at O'Dwyer's contacted me that I realized that Twitter could be a great way for reporters to find subject matter experts. Greg typed "public relations" into Twitter's search function and up popped my name, among others. The same could be true for any given subject. Reporters who want to find people experimenting with leading edge technologies may be tempted to search for sources on Twitter before doing other more broad-based searches.
Here's what Greg wrote from our interview:
Daniel Keeney, who runs DPK PR out of Dallas and Houston, said Twitter makes “an awful lot of sense” from a positioning perspective for clients in the technology space. “It’s a leading-edge technology and it’s really a good idea to have your clients out there and seen as early adopters,” he said. But a client must be someone who “radically” embraces transparency, Tweets often, and has the personality for it, Keeney said. “For it to have any utility at all, the client must have the right frame of mind for it,” he said.
Keeney sees Twitter as a great way to promote other forms of social media – like videos posted on YouTube or blog posts. “It shouts to the world, ‘Hey, look at my blog,’ or, ‘Look at this URL,’” he said.
That doesn’t always translate into a technology client-only gameplan, either. One of Keeney’s client’s, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, is run by “old school guys and they run their business in an old school way, but they’ve really been very quick to adopt some of the new technologies.” So Keeney has recommended that they fire off a Tweet each time they blog or post a new video.
The added benefit of Google tracking Tweets adds a search engine optimization element to Twitter that could send even more traffic to a page.
Keeney said a key development in the Texas market has been the adoption of Twitter by journalists at the Houston Chronicle, especially Dwight Silverman, technology writer for the paper who is a regular user.
“You can really get a sense of what has caught his eye and what he’s thinking,” Keeney said. “He doesn’t obviously give away a lot in terms of stories that are in development, but he definitely gives you an ability to kind of track his thinking. In that sense, it’s an extraordinarily valuable tool.”
The major takeaway is that everyone should be paying attention to the various Social Media opportunities that are emerging and selectively experiment with the ones that give you a chance of connecting to your key publics. At the same time, encourage other in your organization to become comfortable in this space. It will likely continue to be a relevant method of disseminating and gathering information for a long time to come.
And keep in mind that these things tend to work in unexpected ways. Reporters might call out of the blue. Old friends may seek to reconnect. And prospective clients may lurk out there learning all they can about you and your employees before deciding to make contact. It can help shorten the sales cycle or it can cut short a budding relationship. But it is better to be in the game than wondering what game is being played.