A few years ago this word would have described someone slightly lower on the food chain who annoys us. Today it has evolved into a term of endearment for those people using Twitter to communicate. Yes, it’s true. These people sitting on Twitter all day long are Twits, or Twerps or Tweeps. Tweeps have found that by using Twitter, they enhance their social life and their ability to learn. They use Twitter as a place to find out and share news, thoughts, insight and opinion about anything they want at any given time.
Twitter is defined as an information network with a social slant. The well-known micro-blogging website started out with the aim to create a portal of the latest information on any topic – an information stream of the latest and current news.
Evan Williams (Wikipedia) puts it best – “What we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it’s not a social network, but it’s an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world.”
The term micro-blogging means to share information in short bite-size pieces. In Twitter, these bite-size pieces are 140 characters and often contain links to the more in-depth article posted on a blog somewhere on the internet. These short bite-size pieces of information are known as tweets. Tweets are the voice of people, or tweep’s, on twitter.
Twitter in South Africa is growing rapidly as we have seen the website move from the seventh most visited website in South Africa in 2010, to sixth position in 2011. This growth shows an increased usage of the network. On a personal note, I have also been noticing an increase in South African users. Currently I have about 6100 followers (twitter.com/mikeasaunders) and 60.2% of them are South African users. I also find that the South African users are the most engaging with each other. Maybe that just because South Africans are fairly patriotic and like to stick together.
That brings me to the next question: What is a follower?
In Twitter you can follow anyone you feel like. Following someone means that you will see what they tweet when you login to your Twitter account. This is different to Facebook. In Facebook you need to request a friendship and that person must accept your friend request before you can see their updates.
On Twitter you follow anyone who adds value to your life by tweeting ‘the good stuff’! You can even follow celebrities if you care about what they are doing on Tuesday afternoon at 1:43pm. I prefer to follow business experts, leadership experts, social media guru’s, marketing mavens and anyone else that can help me grow as an individual.
Acquiring a mass of followers amplifies your voice in the twittersphere and increases your chances of acquiring new followers because your current followers will retweet (echo) your tweets to their followers. Of course your followers will only retweet the really good stuff. So if you want to build a following, make sure your tweets add value to people’s lives and you should be well on your way to building a great following.
So what business benefit does Twitter offer its users? I would suggest that there are three primary benefits that can be gleaned from Twitter.
- As a promotional tool
- As a networking tool
- As a research tool.
A promotional tool
Looking at Twitter with a business mindset shows us that Twitter becomes a promotional tool. A way to promote the way we think, what and who we find interesting, our blog and our services. The offline equivalent to this would be writing an article for a newspaper or magazine. People who buy the magazine are promoted to through your article.
In the same way, your followers on Twitter are the equivalent of magazine subscribers. Posting tweets then allows you to profile yourself as a professional in your industry by posting original articles, links to interesting websites/articles, service offerings and anything else you may choose.
A networking tool
People on Twitter are very open to networking, especially with people who they respect. Respect on Twitter is primarily attributed to people who produce good quality tweets.
In my personal experience, I have found this to be one of the most valuable aspects of Twitter. I use Twitter to promote my blog by posting links to articles that I’ve written. In addition I also tweet links to other articles on social media and internet marketing. This creates a useful Twitter profile (www.twitter.com/mikeasaunders) that people interested in internet marketing and social media can follow.
The people following me are interested in social media and internet marketing, meaning that the potential is high that I may have followers that would be interested in hiring me. What I’ve done is create a Twitter account that will attract potential clients as well as industry peers, competitors and business partners.
When people retweet my content, it often opens up an opportunity for conversation and insight otherwise unavailable to me. I always use the opportunity to connect with these people because their interest in my content on Twitter shows a common interest. This often ends up in a physical meetings over coffee if the Twitter conversation proves valuable to both parties.
So, by producing engaging blog content that I promote on Twitter, I find people who are interested in the industry that I operate in. When these people engage with my content (retweeting or replying to tweets), I use the opportunity to engage them further and get to know them better.
A research tool
Twitter search has become a very popular tool to search for specific topics inside Twitter. These search results are continually updated with the latest tweets which means that you can literally find out what someone is saying about you, your company, a competitor or a world event this very minute.
Looking to find out more about Social Media? Why not look into inviting Mike Saunders to your next conference to present Social Media and it’s uses with in the business context.