September 25, 2011

Why Tweet?

“Why should I be on Twitter? No one cares what I’m doing and I don’t care what they are doing.”

This is the most common answer for people who aren’t currently using the social media platform when asked about it. That’s the easy  answer, but let’s dig a little deeper into why people give that answer.

“Why should I be on Twitter?” – “I don’t really understand how it works and why it matters.”

It’s the best way to stay up to date on current events. It’s real-time, and in fact, sometimes it may actually be faster than that. Take the Randall Munro’s cartoon an example of how people use Twitter during an earthquake. This cartoon was produced in 2010 (long before the east coast earthquake in August 2011), but was found to be true as people in New York were “warned” of the earthquake just  before they could feel the tremors. Here is Twitter’s take on the situation.

A few other reasons to be on Twitter…

  • interaction with your favorite brands
  • networking
  • staying abreast of the latest trends in your field
  • keeping up-to-date on your interests and hobbies
  • following your favorite sports teams
  • finding out about Twitter-only promotions (sometimes companies give away free stuff)
  • following hashtags during events to follow the live “backchannel” chatter

“No one cares what I’m doing and I don’t care what they are doing.” – “I already update Facebook, can’t people just look there?”

In case you missed all of those reasons that I mentioned above, I’ll repeat. It’s not just about what you are doing and what others are doing. It’s about the world around you and it’s about the community you create within Twitter. It’s about the companies, teams, people, events and interests that matter to you. The conversation is no longer about what you are doing, who you are doing it with, and why it matters to you.

Businesses aren’t just pushing out one-way messages through print, radio and TV ads. They are now using social media to interact with consumers in real time. Companies are using social media to find out more about their consumers need and want. Facebook is great, but unless you are posting to their page, they likely aren’t seeing your post and can’t actually address the problem. Companies are constantly searching Twitter to ensure they can respond to consumers quickly.

On Facebook, posts are harder to search because of privacy settings. If someone comments about Company X, the post may never actually be seen by Company X unless it was posted on the company’s Fan Page. In contrast, on Twitter most accounts are public (you can lock it down to only approved followers but that is an entirely different blog post) and are easily searchable.

Users most commonly respond to @mentions (when you put the company or person’s user name directly in your tweet) but can also easily search by hashtags, as well as keywords. For instance, if you were trying to send a message to Outback Steakhouse, you could include “@Outback” in your tweet. Because that is the company’s user name they will see it pop up in their @mention column. You could also likely type”#Outback” or “#OutbackSteakhouse”and they would find your tweet via the hashtag. In addition, you could simply include “Outback Steakhouse” in your tweet and they may find it because they are searching for those words. The @mention is the easiest way to ensure that a company sees your message, but requires you to know their username. If you are unsure, type out the company’s name with a #-sign before it and you will likely still get their attention via a hashtag.

Your opinion matters and companies are listening.

Are you using Twitter? How has it helped enrich your life in ways other media cannot? Are you still hesitant to embrace it? Why?

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