By Kevin Gault
If you don’t know about Twitter, you should. It’s a social-networking and micro-blogging service that can help your business and build your list of contacts. If you’re lucky, it could even connect you with well-known CEOs, authors and execs.
A free service launched in 2006, Twitter lets users send and read messages (known as “tweets”) that are text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Updates are displayed on a user’s profile page and automatically delivered to a chosen list of other users.
As of July 2008, there were over 2,200,000 Twitter accounts. What makes this service so popular? “When I first heard of Twitter, I pooh-poohed it,” says Laura Fitton, founder and CEO of Pistachio Consulting, a firm that specializes in the “microsharing” of information for branding, market engagement and internal employee networks. “But a blogger whom I respect posted that he was ‘Twittering.’ His Twitter page was filled with many useful and productive things he was doing. I thought, ‘Having this around will inspire me to do more in my work life.’”
Many companies use Twitter to get business results. Cisco Systems and Whole Foods Market use it to provide product or service information. The Los Angeles Fire Department used Twitter to send urgent messages during the October 2007 California wildfires. NASA relied on the service to break the news of discoveries on Mars by the Phoenix Mars Lander.
Fitton says that companies can use Twitter for many purposes, including:
* Brand extension
* Team building
* Collaborating on projects
* Flattening the organizational chart to create feedback and mentoring
* Passing along information and articles in real time
* Coordinating travel and conferences
* Fast sharing of ideas, news and information
“Twitter can be a great vehicle for a brand extension if you’re willing to produce feeds of useful things,” adds Fitton. “And by useful, I mean useful to others, not to yourself. Businesses should care about this service because networking is a fundamental key to business success.”
Quality Is the Key
Fitton stresses that while it’s great to have a large list of Twitter contacts, the quality of the network is more important. Her network includes CEOs, TV producers, magazine editors and authors, many of whom she has never met face-to-face.
“It’s the oldest advice in the book—surround yourself with successful people,” she says. “These days, not only do all of my clients come from Twitter, but by the time someone contacts me, they’ve read my posts on Twitter, they understand how my mind works and they’ve already decided that I’m the one for their project.
“Companies miss out massively when they dismiss Twitter as newfangled and faddish,” says Fitton, whose latest project is Mediacasters TV (www.mediacasters.tv), a firm that specializes in live, two-way TV programming. “Give Twitter a chance. Find the people in your organization who are drawn to it, give them some space and encourage them to find ways to use it to help your company.”
With 2,200,000 Twitter users out there, chances are there’s one with a fantastic idea that will be just what your company needs.
Editor’s Note: If you want to follow me on Twitter, go here: http://twitter.com/Mike_Stelzner