When Twitter first came on the scene, I knew that I needed to learn how to tweet. It’s a new form of media and my work revolves around media, so it was a pretty obvious connection. I’ve been tweeting mostly to stay connected and send and receive news, not to talk about what I had for breakfast. Where I kept falling down in the social media/PR connection was explaining to clients why they should be tweeting. "Because everybody is doing it," was not the right answer. So last week I attended a "Twitter 101" workshop presented by Sandra Fathi, @sandrafathi for the Twitter-savvy.
What I took away from the workshop was invaluable and helped me view Twitter as a tool for the business world. What client wouldn’t want to have their company in a publication that reaches 20 million people globally? That’s one reason to tweet. Some other reasons we discussed during the workshop include: to generate awareness; to seek and create new media opportunities; to foster customer loyalty; to promote products and services; to network with customers; and to monitor trends and breaking news.
The problem is there are some turnoffs and misconceptions. I've heard everything from, “I’m so overwhelmed by email alone, I can’t do anything else” or “the churn rate is so high, it’s just a fad.” Those are completely reasonable worries, but there are solutions. If you can't find the time in your day, how are companies like Southwest, Dominoes, Zappos.com and more all jumping on the Twitter bandwagon? These companies have realized the impact of social media and are allocating either internal or external resources to manage the efforts. Their successes with social media are talked about constantly and have even attracted coverage in traditional media. For those that say, "it's just a fad, Twitter will be forgotten about in a few months," they probably haven't taken the time to try it yet.
I believe everyone is looking for something at all times and when John or Mary is online Googling “thingamajig” and Company X is twittering about their shiny new thingamajigs – a connection is made and everyone gets what they want. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out but you do need the initiative to try it.
The bigger issue I noticed is that people are reluctant to change. In the business world, you have to embrace change or your company won’t grow. Technology is constantly evolving and the business world relies on new technology to survive. As a young PR pro, I know I’m light years away from the professionals that "back in the day" used to fax or snail mail press releases to journalists. And I give credit to those pros that today are trying their hand at Twitter or that have Facebook pages (even to their kids’ chagrin).
My mom is a partner at a family-owned real estate company in New Jersey, and despite the tumultuous market conditions, she is taking the initiative to try new online networking tools that most of the professionals in her industry aren’t. With the economy slowly making its way back into the black, it's people in the service industry, like my mom, that don’t sit and wait for business to pick up again, they get out and network either in-person or through social media outlets.
So for those that don’t know how to get started with social media or are too overwhelmed by the thought of it, I say, if my mom can tweet so can you! Take the first step and spread your social media wings. Once you get started, you can count on me to be a follower!