Think that Twitter is irrelevant?  Think again.

Think that Twitter is just for spamming?  You’re wrong.

Think that Twitter is not for the average Joe? You may be surprised.

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott recently held a town hall meeting in his bedroom with over 5,000 people.  Using Twitter, Gov. Scott entertained questions from Florida residents by having them send him a twitter message @FLGovScott followed by the hashtag #Flgov.

 

Twitter is not just a place where someone tells the world what they’re having for dinner. It’s a venue where people can share an interesting article or picture they just found, or connect with like-minded people, all in just 140 characters or less.  People are finding a new ways to utilize Twitter for meaningful conversation in a new form of communication called a “tweetchat”.

 

A Twitter “tweetchat” or “tweetchatting” is a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through the use of Twitter updates (called tweets) that include a predefined hashtag  (symbol: #) to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation.  Tweets using the predefined hashtag can be found using Twitter’s search bar and hence, can be seen grouped together in the form of  a conversation.

 

Participants use the assigned hashtag (say, #sbbuzz) for their tweets during the discussion.  Here’s a message containing a hashtag to identify the tweet as a part of the tweetchat:

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Twitter message containing tweetchat hashtag

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Use of the hashtag code is how other participants follow the discussion.  Here’s how one person responded to the above question, using the same hashtag:

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Tweetchat response using hashtag #sbbuzz

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Formal Twitter tweetchats are generally arranged in advance and occur at a specific time.  Like Gov. Scott’s tweetchat, they may include a formal agenda with a specific leader or “speaker”; conversely they could facilitate a free-flowing discussion between all participants.

 

So how does tweetchatting help with one’s business?  They can help you connect with others who have similar interests and participating in tweetchats will most likely increase one’s Twitter followers.  Additionally, while hosting a tweetchat, companies can and should use this time to listen and learn.  Listen to what customers and others have to say as well as what they want, and learn from what they are telling you.

 

Businesses should be careful, however, about how often they use tweetchats as well as how long they run.  Don’t forget, during a tweetchat you are still tweeting, and these tweets will show up in the news feeds of all of your followers.  Most Twitter-users will agree that too many tweets from one person can get really annoying, really quick which may result in a decrease of followers.  Businesses should ‘alert’ their followers that they are going to be engaged in a tweetchat during such-and-such time and will be tweeting often during those x-number of minutes.  But, you shouldn’t have negative tone and just apologize for the number of forthcoming tweets, seize the moment and turn it into an opportunity to invite your followers to the conversation. For example, you could use something like “Going to be tweeting a lot [for the next 30 minutes, this afternoon, tomorrow, etc.]  about _____________, feel free to join in the conversation using hashtag #_____________” versus “We apologize for all the tweets that are about to come through your feed, it will only be for [time frame]

 

Twitter is ushering in a new age in marketing.  Guy Kawasaki, the venture capitalist and founder of Alltop.com, is reported in the Wall Street Journal as saying Twitter is “the most powerful marketing tool that I’ve seen since probably television.”

 

I tend to agree.

 

Feel free to share your experiences using a tweetchat or questions regarding tweetchatting below; better yet, chat with me via twitter at @wtwh_lbrown ;)

 

Lance Brown

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Comment by Jbj Techniques on January 31, 2011 at 12:00pm
We really hope that our friends, colleagues, suppliers and customers will join in with Twitter as it is an easy, quick way to exchange ideas, views and news but British engineers are either too busy, not interested or just haven't caught on to the benefits as yet. It will happen . . . . eventually! Twiddling our thumbs waiting.
Comment by Kathie Zipp on January 28, 2011 at 6:57am
Thanks for this blog Lance. A year ago I was against twitter thinking, as you said many do, it was just for people who feel they need to tell everyone what they're eating or to catch up on celebrity gossip. But now I see how it can be a great marketing tool and I'm excited to participate in Design World's, and my, first tweet chat coming up in February!

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