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Jeff Cobb – Hedgehog & Fox Newsletter – 05.09 – Essential Tools of the New Web: Twitter
Hedgehog & Fox Newsletter
from Jeff Thomas Cobb
Volume 2, Issue 4
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Quote of the Month
2. A Note from Jeff: Alert Yourself
3. Upcoming Speaking
4. Feature Article: Twitter
5. High Value Clicks
6. Contact Me
1. Quote of the Month
“…the next new economy, the one rising from the ashes of this latest meltdown, will favor the small.”
Chris Anderson in the June edition of Wired (well worth reading!)
2. A Note from Jeff: Alert Yourself
The last few times I have spoken, I’ve made a point of asking audience members whether or not they have any Google Alerts set for their own names or their organization’s name (and brands). Always less than 50% of the people in the room raise their hands. I sincerely hope that the number reaches 100% within the next year, if not sooner.
“Listening” is step one for participating in the social Web, and participating in the social Web is really no longer an optional part of strategy for any organization. When you listen, you find new opportunities. When you listen, you may also be able to head off potential problems. (See my post on the Domino’s Debacle.)
So, if you don’t have any alerts set, get yourself over to http://www.google.com/alerts as soon as possible and set some up. And also consider adding some other tools to your listening mix as well. For more on that, I recommend my post 10 Tools for Monitoring Your Brand.
As always, I look forward to any comments or questions you may send to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Upcoming Speaking Engagements
I’m just back from speaking on Web 2.0/social media at the Georgia Society of Association Executives annual meeting in beautiful Asheville, NC. Here’s what’s coming up next.
Professional Engineers of North Carolina
June 11, Myrtle Beach, SC
This Changes Everything: Leveraging the New Web to Build Your Business and Boost Your Career
Empire State Society of Association Executives
June 25, Saratoga Springs, NY
Takin’ It To The Web: Leveraging Social Media to Energize and Promote Your Events
Visit http://jtcobb.wpengine.com/speaking to find out more or contact me at email@example.com if your are interested in having me speak at one of your organization’s events.
If you work for an association and are interested in e-learning, you may also be interested in a recent ASAE Associations Now article on E-learning Expectations in which I am quoted extensively.
4. Simple Starts: Twitter
This is the third installment in my “Simple Starts” series, which has so far covered Web video and Facebook.
To my own surprise, I ended up mentioning Twitter quite a bit in my recent session on social media for the Georgia Society of Association Executives. I was surprised because I have tended to avoid talking about Twitter much when speaking. I find that too many people have a strong bias against it and that even the mere mention if it can threaten to derail a presentation! It’s potential value, however, earned it a place on more slides in my GSAE presentation than any other social media tool.
Before elaborating on why, I’ll first offer a brief explanation of Twitter for those who have not tried it – or perhaps even heard of it.
There you have it – in less than 140 characters.
Still not sure what that means? Well, before reading the rest of this article, click over to http://twitter.com to have a quick look, and then check out Commoncraft’s brief Twitter in Plain English video:
Once you have done that, you should have a pretty good feel for how Twitter works.
The “My Cat Sneezed” Problem
Understanding the mechanics is one thing, but a big issue that Twitter currently faces when it comes to serious business usage is that too many people think “tweets” – the messages sent out over Twitter – are about inane things like what the author of the tweet had for lunch or the fascinating fact that her cat just sneezed.
Sure, you find that kind of thing on Twitter – probably all too much of it – but it is actually possible to create a much more valuable experience with 140 characters or less.
While I wouldn’t recommend abandoning your personality entirely on Twitter – the occasional “My cat sneezed” post is actually a good thing – you can also use Twitter (and follow others who use Twitter) to:
– Send out links to good resources you have found – e.g., Web pages, blogs, videos, etc. You can even “retweet” valuable tweets that you receive from others.
– Track the buzz on an issue, person, company, or pretty much anything else by going to http://search.twitter.com and typing in your search terms. You can also save this search as an RSS feed to easily see whenever something new is added to it. (You don’t even need a Twitter account to do this.)
– Follow and contribute to an event in your field or industry by using a “hashtag.” For example, go to http://search.twitter.com and type in “#asae09.” What will come up is a stream of tweets, beginning with the most recent, of people who have included the hashtag “asae09 in any of their tweets. This particular hashtag is for the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) upcoming annual meeting. The stream of tweets associated with is like a real-time news feed for those who will attend the event or simply want to keep tabs on what goes on there. Hashtags are a powerful way to tie together onsite and online communities for face-to-face events.
How do you create a hashtag? Simple – just be the first one to use the desired hashtag in a tweet. e.g., if you want to create a hashtag called “leadbyexample” to collect great leadership examples, just include #leadbyexample in a tweet you send out. After that, the hashtag is available for anyone to use.
– Ask and answer questions. Once you begin to accumulate followers and follow others, Twitter is a natural platform for asking questions and receiving answers almost immediately. Remember, the people who are following you most likely have common interests, and you most likely follow people with whom you share interests. Just this week I watched as a colleague asked about good interview questions for hiring an IT manager and rapidly received multiple useful responses from followers.
Tip: This “ask and answer” capability of Twitter’s can also make it a great customer service toolThere are many other ways to mine value from Twitter, but even if you do just some of what is described above, I think you will find it is a tool well worth adding to your marketing and communications mix.
If you have created accounts on other Web sites, then setting up an account on Twitter should feel pretty routine. If you have questions about the mechanics of sending and receiving tweets, I again suggest taking a look at Twitter in Plain English.
Once you have the mechanics mastered, you will probably want to start connecting with people who might be of help to you in your particular field or industry. One great way to do this is to use Twellow, which bills itself as the Twitter yellow pages. Use the category and search features there to find people and also set up your own profile so that you can be found.
As you start following people, you will figure out pretty quickly that the standard Twitter interface at twitter.com is not great for handling high volumes of tweets. Instead, I recommend downloading one of the better desktop applications for managing Twitter, like Tweetdeck, or the one I currently use, Seesmic Desktop. Among other features, each of these applications gives you the ability to create groups of people you follow so that you do not have to track every single tweet you receive in a single window.
Finally, see the High Value Clicks section below for other great resources to help you get as much value as possible out of Twitter.
P.S. Of course, be sure to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtcobb!
5. High Value Clicks
Here are some great free or low-cost resources on the Web to help you boost your Web marketing efforts:
Twitter is very hot at the moment, which means you can quickly get overwhelmed by the number of resources out there. Aside from the links in the article above, I’ll keep things simple by recommending only the following two additional resources:
Twitter for Business, by Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch – This free 15-page eBook provides a great general overview of Twitter.
Why Blog + 25 Tips to Make It Work
A free eBook with good basic advice from Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni
These are some pretty hefty, rich resources. I’m going to opt for quality over quantity and stop there.
6. Contact Me
I truly welcome your thoughts on how I can make this into a
newsletter that fits your needs in the best possible way. Always feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 919.201.7460 with any comments you have about the content provided in the newsletter and suggestions for future editions.
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