Like any cool web tool, Twitter can be a great help or an equally great waste of time. It all depends on how you use it…and why. At my most recent conference, Twitter was the hot topic among paraticipants. I ended up explaining to multiple individuals why I use Twitter and how it has impacted my personal & professional life.
Why do I use Twitter?
First, because I see very beneficial business results. Second, because it’s fun.
1. It augments my listening ability
By following those clients that use Twitter, I easily stay updated on their professional projects and personal lives.
By carefully following the right experts, I’m daily learning of new products & new techniques that will help me provide better solutions to my clients.
We have recently acquired technology that will soon be deployed for us to use in better serving our clients. I currently have a RSSed twitter search on the technology fed to my Google Reader. To put it simply, anytime anyone on Twitter mentions this technology (using it, installing it, troubles with it, successful applications of it), that twitter message is automatically sent to my Google Reader. I can then read what others are saying about the technology. This also allows me to identify potential user experts to contact in the future.
Speaking of RSSed Twitter searches, I also have them established for my clients divisions and keywords relating to their core business. This really helps me know who is talking about our clients and what they are saying.
2. It enhances my relationships with clients
Knowing a little personal information about clients, and vice versa, somehow seems to “humanize” us humans. It makes us more approachable and more comfortable with one another. It begins to establish in some small way a level of trust. A paraphrase of a statement made by one of my clients, “Sure, it’s not mission critial for me to know that you frequently like to make your own sushi on Sundays, but it helps me to feel more comfortable with you.” And likewise, me knowing that the client hopes their 8-year-old never grows out of their McDonald’s phase won’t solve the challenges presented by budget reductions, but it does help to foster the kind of safe environment needed to discuss and solve those difficult challenges.
3. It’s an easy way to share knowledge
It’s extremely easy to share links to sites, videos, articles, blogs, you name it via Twitter. I’ve used it to direct clients to information I’ve discovered pertinent to an ongoing project or effort.
4. It increases serendipity
Often I find incredibly useful information, resources, and contacts via Twitter by chance. For example, one of my clients follows numerous PR professionals in the OKC area. I decided to follow a few to see what they had to say. A few weeks later, a different client needed a panelist on short notice that knew the ins and outs of corporate volunteering programs. Surprising enough I remembered that one of those PR professionals I followed (Sam Sims) had both a head and a heart for volunteering. Problem solved, panelist secured…thanks Twitter (and Sam).
5. It helps to promote my work
I like to Tweet when I complete work or start work on a major component of a client project. It’s not only a simple way to keep client’s updated, it’s also a good way to promote the type of services you are capable of providing. Of course, on sensitive projects the Tweets are kept generic enough to maintain confidential information (or not Tweeted at all).
For personal promotion, I send out a Tweet every time I post a new blog entry (like I just did for this one). My page viewership typically jumps above 200% the day I Tweet.