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Maybe you've heard about Twitter and Facebook and all the ruckus about social media but you haven't had time to sit down and figure it out.  Perhaps you heard about Twitter and ask yourself "What is Twitter?"  How is it different from Facebook or Google+?  Is Twitter right for your business?  Let's dive in and find out.

Let's start with WIkipedia's defintion.  Twitter is "an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as 'tweets'."1  Let's take this definition apart to better understand it.  Twitter is a social network because it's about people following what you write ("tweets") and in turn following the tweets of others.  The nature of building connections to other users makes it a "social network."  Twitter is a microblogging service in that you can make entries to your own page.  Your Twitter page has its own url address and contains all of your entries, as well as people's responses to your entries.  Blogging is similiar to keeping a diary where you create new entries from time to time.  The old entries don't go away, so after some time, you have a collection of these entries.  Microblogging on Twitter is essentially about signing in on a regular basis and writing a micro, or short, tweet.  The maximum length of a tweet is 140 characters.  This means you need to write an impactful message in a limited number of words.  Ultimately if you keep on writing interesting tweets, you'll soon attract a following of people who want to stay informed about you.

Why should you bother with Twitter?   Currently there are about 119 million active members.This means you are tapping into an immense but broad audience.  Its similar to why you would want to set up a table at a large festival or event — you want as many eyes on your product or service as possible.  By posting tweets on Twitter, you are going to where the audience is.  The more you tweet, the more chances you create for people to pay attention to and "follow" you.  When a Twitter user follows you, they connect to you in a way that they'll be instantly informed when you create new tweets in the future. So equate your Twitter followers as an engaged audience.

An engaged audience is another reason to bother with Twitter.  Studies suggest that Twitter has a highly engaged audience versus other social networking sites.3,4  What that means is that you'll have a better chance of 100 Twitter followers reading and acting on your message than say, 100 follower on Myspace or Facebook.  My guess is that short messages have greater impact.  And Twitter is all about short messages. 

Finally, how do you take avantage of Twitter?  Obviously start by setting up an account and asking your current friends and clients to follow you.  Sign up for a free account here.  Next, think about what you want your audience "to do."  For example, do you want them to come into your store? Then give them a reason to come in by announcing it in a tweet:  Free ice-tea with a purchase of a sandwich, 20% off for the next 4 hours, bring a friend for free admission, etc.   Make your short messages fun and exciting, and you'll soon be seeing a positive response to your tweets.

For more help with Twitter, NPGlocal is here to help.  Check out our Twitter package

For the visually inclined, here is a great video explanation of Twitter. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o[/youtube]

 

Footnotes

  1. Wikipedia, Twitter.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter (August 2, 2011).
  2. Carlson, Nicholas.  How Many Users Does Twitter REALLY Have?  http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-how-many-users-does-twitter-really-have-2011-3 (August 2, 2011).
  3. Krall, Jay.   Using Social Metrics to Evaluate the Impact of Online Healthcare Communications.  Journal of Communication in Healthcare. November 2009, Vol.2 Issue 4.  (August 10, 2011).
  4. Goldsborough, Justin.  Are all Impressions Created Equal?   Communication World.  Jan/Feb 2011, Vol.28, Issue 1.  (August 10, 2011).