Saturday, December 27, 2008

Twitter goes mainstream

Now that the O'Reilly Radar has released their latest report Twitter and the Micro-Messaging Revolution: Communication, Connections, and Immediacy - 140 Characters at a Time (O'Reilly, $249, PDF), Twitter and the "micro-messaging phenomenon" have officially gone mainstream.

A number of my clients have approached me about whether or not they should use Twitter, and I've posted about using Twitter professionally before and I use Twitter myself, but as Twitter moves more solidly into the mainstream, my guess is these types of inquires will start to come in even more frequently.

The simple truth is that while both technologies and tools come and go, the ability to effectively create a conversation and tell a story are the real keys to success, especially for those of us in PR.

Before your company and/or organization decides to actively engage in the "twitterverse", begin by finding out what people are saying about your organization and/or category in these active communities. Run a simple twitter search to find patterns in the existing conversation, or follow key thought-leaders in your industry anonymously to see how they use the tool.

Watch. Learn. Listen. Then – and only then – make a conscious decision about what you want to accomplish before diving in to the conversation.

As social media – including Twitter – moves to the mainstream, more and more users will begin to dive in to it without thinking through their objectives thoroughly. This is another opportunity to use the “POST” method pioneered by Forrester Research. POST is an acronym for “People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology” and it outlines the order in which organizations should build their online social strategy. (For more information on the POST method, click here.)

While I've long advocated for the value of social media as an effective, and increasingly relevant, PR tool - I've now begun to worry that its misuse could start to do more harm than good.

Update: 1/6/08 -
An excellent resource for using Twitter for Community and Communications professionals from Brian Solis @ PR2.0.