Monday, September 29, 2008

How 'Tweet' It Is

It's been a few months now that Thelma and I have been on Twitter, and speaking for myself, I've found it an interesting and effective way to communicate with a wide range of people. Today, the 13th floor, Governing magazine's blog, writes about Twitter and the number of high level government officials using the application. The US House and Senate are twittering, including sending out up to date 'tweets' on floor votes. For example, I found out about the failure of the bailout bill this morning via Twitter, not the mainstream media, and I suspect a lot of young folks are getting their news primarily from Twitter.

What is Twitter? For starters, it's hundreds of thousands of people answering the simple question: "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less, and sharing that information to those who are following them on Twitter.
To me, it's an uber social networking and communications tool. It's the modern day equivalent of what used to be the networking mixer when people gathered after work to meet others with similar interests and who develop connections so that they might be able to help and support each other in various ways. Twitter is that but much more. It's partly about business marketing, but it's mainly about just connecting with other people.

Chris Brogan, the social marketing guru of our times, calls it "marinating". You develop relationships with people before your ask them to receive and consider your message. You marinate when you follow and contribute news about what you're doing, what you're thinking, and what's important to you. The result is all the "tastier".

Here's what I like about Twitter:

+You are limited to 140 characters. Yes, characters, not words. It's amazing what you are able to communicate in what is basically a sentence, and a short one at that. It forces you to edit yourself, and not fall in love with your own verbosity.

+You 'meet' all kinds of new Twitter friends, of all ages, of all backgrounds, living or traveling in different locations.

+You get a really good sense of what's on people's minds, even if it's whatever people are having for lunch that day.

+Sprinkled in amidst the twittering is serious stuff. Can't watch the presidential debate? Several people will be twittering the major points. Want to follow Hawaii election results when you're on the mainland? KGMB9 and The Honolulu Advertiser were twittering that night with up to date results.

The only thing I don't like about Twitter: Social marketing is one thing, but I'm not crazy about using Twitter strictly as a sales tool. When every tweet is strictly about promoting a certain product or organization.

I'm excited about the possibilities of using Twitter during the next legislative session. If you decide to try it out, go to and sign up. You can then follow us here:

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