I have written about Twitter.com a bit in the past, both on my blog and in various columns that have appeared in this paper. Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to create posts up to 140 characters. You can also share videos, pictures, and links in these posts.
By utilizing a pound sign (#), users are able to categorize their tweets by topic or keyword. These topics are called “hashtags.” Television shows, businesses, and organizations have started to display their hashtags in commercials, in the corner of the screen during their shows, and in printed advertisements. Cities also have hashtags in order to make tweets categorized and searchable by area.
Most cities with airports use their airport code as their hashtag. For example, Burlington’s hashtag is #BTV. I have often mentioned that the biggest set back to Twitter in Rutland is the lack of people tweeting in this area. I can tell this by the little use of our hashtag, which #RutVT. Any user can then do a search of these keywords to find other users to connect with or relevant topics.
As a Twitter user, you should always categorize your tweets appropriately. This will help you connect with other users who share similar interests. It can also increase your followers. If you are an expert in something, users will begin to follow you based on your specialties.
Interaction between people is different on Twitter than Facebook. Your “friends” on Twitter are called “followers” as they follow your posts. The service is very much public, and although you can block people, generally anyone has the ability to see what you post and respond to it. Some people may see this as a negative thing, but because of the limited personal information shared on Twitter, the Twitterverse differs from its neighboring Facebookland. On Facebook, you generally only friend people whom you know in your offline life. On Twitter, you may become friends and connect with several people you do not know offline, and perhaps will never meet offline.
Because of Twitter’s ability to categorize, one of the best uses for the service is networking. I often send a question out to fellow higher education professionals to get advice or see what others are doing at their institutions. By using the #highered keyword, I am able to connect with others, and know that the appropriate people will see my questions.
Twitter users have also found a way to put the “social” back in “social media.” Twitter meet-ups, or “tweet-ups”, have become popular events. Usually revolving around a specific idea, users with similar interests met up and network.
What does this all mean for your business?
1. Make sure to utilize appropriate hashtags. Use a hashtag for your location as well as the category for your business. This will help people in your area and interested in what your business is in find you and connect with you.
2. Start conversations with users. See another person tweeting about something that happened in your area? Tweet at them by tagging their username (i.e. @localsocialvt). Search relevant hashtags to find these users.
3. Host a tweet-up. Make sure you have wifi or amble cell service available for the Twitter users. No doubt they will want to live tweet the event.
Let’s all connect on Twitter and start a movement in this direction. Tweet at me @localsocialvt. I will be looking for those #RutVT hashtags.
This column originally appeared in the July 2, 2012 Rutland Herald.