*Yawn* Talking about using Twitter is so 2010 right? But new members still struggle to find meaning after signing up for the microblogging service. The reality is that Twitter is just a technology platform, different people get different value out of it. I thought it would be interesting to ask some of my favourite Tweeters….
“When was your Twitter A-HA! moment?”
Katie Lee, Miramus - @shinykatie
Mine was when I installed OuTwit. You couldn’t use it now, but back when there weren’t many people on Twitter and not many Twitter clients available, OuTwit suddenly made it click for me. Before, I’d been quite bemused by why you might waste so much time telling people what you were doing. But when those messages started appearing in an Outlook folder, I just became addicted to clicking on the updates and seeing what friends and colleagues were up to. It was far more interesting than reading emails or doing work! Around the same time, a lot of the people in the office were getting into it too, so it felt like a very amusing place to hang out. Not a very interesting story, but it’s the truth!
Gary Andrews, Content and Communities Manager, Spotlight - @garyandrews
I’d been aware of Twitter and a few possibilities for a while before I joined ITV’s PR department in October 2007. Ben Ayers, who at that point worked across factual and digital publicity, was adamant I should sign up, and gave me a quick once over in how it worked. At that point there were only three of us in the whole PR department on Twitter.
I was also new to London, having just moved up from Devon, and was keen to get out and about and meet new people – something most Londoners know is easier said than done. I saw a Tweet from somebody I followed about what a great time they’d had at the London Bloggers’ Meetup. Interested, I asked what it was about, they sent me the link and I duly turned up to the next one. Some of the people I met that night have become important contacts for work purposes, and friends. Most were on Twitter and that aha moment made me realise how it could be used in a professional manner.
Several months later came a 2nd aha moment. By this stage, a lot of the digital community knew and loved Twitter but it wasn’t exactly mainstream. The day Philip Schofield signed up to Twitter and mentioned the service on This Morning, ITV’s Twitter followers exploded, at least tripling if not more, with new users. This, for me, was the moment when it bcame clear that Twitter would be important and (for better or worse) celebrities would play a key part in driving this.
TIP: These days it’s not always easy to keep in touch. Use Twitter to make and foster real world connections. Also, celebrities may drive a lot of the buzz around Twitter but these aren’t the people you’ll be connecting with, seriously ;-)
Shannon Eastman, tcs digital world – @shannoneastman
My a-ha moment … was April 2007. Dealer program for a mobile phone manufacturer was rolled out nation wide (Canada) – to celebrate the launch of a new handset… parties were held in each major city to psych up the sales teams. The final city we arrived in had been following the tweets of their colleagues unknown to us agency folk… and suggested a few ideas to changes things up a bit since they already knew what the big reveal was going to be. We were horrified at first… felt stupid in front of the client for not having thought of using TWEETER first… and then recognized the value of having the front line sales folk teach us a thing or two. They did… life was never the same again.
My personal aha moment… was discovering how incredibly brilliant it is at researching anything… and what following the crumb trail can unearth.
TIP: There’s a lot of talk about how businesses can “crowdsource” ideas from product innovation to customer service. Use Twitter as an easy back channel to throw things out to opinion and get valuable feedback. In particular Twitter + Live Events = Additional Insight you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I think everyone has a eureka moment with twitter when it just clicks and you think, ‘holy heck, I never thought I’d get it, but I do’. You have to persevere for a little bit to get through to the other stage though. I think most people that don’t use twitter think it is just a site for the vacuous and self obsessed reporting on what colour socks they’re wearing that day. I too had those concerns myself when I set up @ruggerblogger to direct more traffic to my rugby tragic blog. For a year I let the site sit idle because I just didn’t really know how to use it and I felt self conscious. I think the trick for me was following lots of people that were as pathetically rugby obsessed as I was. I suddenly realised that I could get a lot of scoops for my blog. I also began to really enjoy the connections I was making with other followers around the world and all the banter. And then, my ultimate favourite: sitting down to watch a game with the laptop and conversing with people in real time as the game went on.
There is something lovely and universal about twitter. It really does connect people and even though tweets can seem rather pointless, they can also be fun and quirky and enjoyable and helpful. If you have a twitter account then no matter what time of day or night it is, you never need to feel lonely again.
TIP: If you’re creating content or trying to connect with communities Twitter can provide the conversational glue – getting content out there and finding like minded people. The real-time nature of Twitter also makes it fantastic to share Live events such as TV shows, festivals or conferences.
Darika Ahrens – the original @temperoUK (now run by an enthusiastic team across Tempero)
It was Christmas 07/08. I had just finished my job and was starting my social media marketing business Grapevine Consulting but I was also on the other side of the world in NZ attending two weddings. I needed a way to let people know what I was doing, keep up with the industry back in the UK, and rapidly grow contacts & connections for my budding business. Suddenly something that had seemed like self-indulgent over sharing became essential for a lonely sole trader.
TIP: Twitter doesn’t just have to be for your personal musings. Turn “sharing” into “networking” and you’ve found your reason for talking to strangers (and perhaps feeling a little uncomfortable doing it).
What was your Twitter “a-ha!” moment? Share your stories and tips in the comments below.
[Image Credit: carrotcreative]