This is the fifth part in a series on my history and use of social media. Others include:
- Part 1: How I use LinkedIn
- Part 2: Why I blog + use WordPress
- Part 3: Sharing on steroids: YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare
- Part 4: My blog + small successes
Twitter – way cool
Now we get to my favorite, Twitter. This microblogging service started in 2006 as a way to share information (140 characters or less) with an unlimited number of people (“followers”). As of August 2009 (according to compete.com), Twitter had 24 million unique visitors that month making 149 million visits to the site. I heard about Twitter last October at the Economic Development Institute from Mark James, who mentioned it as one of the up and coming technologies. I played with it for personal use (friends, family), then abandoned it, as it turned out I preferred email or phone calls to Twitter for updating. But when I made the decision to blog, I saw a professional use for the service (to drive traffic to the blog). And, I would have at least one tweet per day. This was possible for web address (URL) shorteners; I used www.tinyurl.com at first and then headed over to www.bit.ly (where I still am today) because of the tracking capability.
In addition to tweeting (sending a message) about my daily blog post, I started doing posts about fascinating facts about Springfield. Did you know the inventor of Teflon hailed from New Carlisle, OH? And I would post a link to the Wikipedia article about Roy Plunkett. Or, I would post about baseball’s most perfectly pitched game (12 inning no hitter) by Harvey Haddix, from Springfield. I then got into tweeting about upcoming events (Chamber, festivals, community, business), of course with links to a webpage for more info. Eventually, I started tweeting from meetings on any valuable (and of course unconfidential) information I might pick up. I also was a big user of TweetLater (now SocialOomph), which allows you to schedule tweets in advance. I remember putting tweets on an hourly schedule during the business day.
CrackBerry Tour revolutionizes how I do business
My tweeting took a sharp increase when my older 8703 BlackBerry broke (which I had had since May of 2007), and I replaced it with the BlackBerry 9630 – the Tour. The machine did a number of things for me. In the very beginning, I would monitor tweets using the web. After the number of people I followed began to increase, this became less and less workable. Then, for a while, I primarily used third party applications like Seesmic desktop and TweetDeck. I didn’t find them easy to use and I wasn’t getting the information immediately. Next, about a month ago (same time as getting the Tour coincidentally) I started using the Twitter feature that allows you to select certain people/accounts to have their tweets sent directly to your cell phone as a text message. Twitter will be coming out very soon with a feature that lets you select lists within the website. I look forward to that.
I found I really liked getting them sent to my phone. The Tour’s larger screen, faster Internet upload time, easy to use trackball, and full web browser meant real web access. My 8703 didn’t have that kind of access to the web. I could browse tweets (which clump in groups of 8 for easy viewing) and directly click on a reference link to see if I liked the content/found it useful. If so, I would often (and do so now) retweet (share someone else’s message with all of my followers) messages. Again, the buttons on the Tour make this easy to select the text of a tweet, copy it, paste it into a new text message to Twitter (40404) and send it on its way. “Wasted” time in meetings, at red lights/traffic, walking to a meeting/event, etc. all of a sudden becomes productive – sharing and learning are constant activities. I get tweets from media like the Springfield News-Sun, local businesses like Lee’s Chicken and Itinerant Studio, colleagues at the Ohio Business Development Coalition, and social media outlets like Mashable and SocialMedia2Day. I probably get about 40 Twitter accounts sent to my phone. Last month I received over 2600 text messages or about 90 per day.