Twitter for those of us that haven’t jumped all the way on the wagon

I have to admit that the Twittersphere is still a little intimidating to me. I know, I know, if social media were a class I would probably be failing the participation part.

Last semester, the Phoenix PRSA chapter hosted a Shadow Day for ASU PRSSA members. I was lucky enough to shadow the ladies at HMA PR (Scott was out of the office that day). These ladies are truly on top of their social media game and I was fortunate to be able to pick their brains about the subject. We chatted for quite a while about Twitter and the importance of social media in the PR field. They shared with us how they use it personally and how it can be implemented for clients. When I left, I was inspired to rejuvenate my personal Twitter. I did okay for a few weeks, tweeting here and there and gaining a few followers. I’m a little embarrassed to say, I have fallen right out of the Twittersphere again.

So what am I doing wrong?

  1. Twitter is not the first thing I think to update all the time.
  2. Twitter isn’t the first place I think to get my news.
  3. Sometimes I question whether or not people really want to hear what I have to say.
  4. Twitter can often seem overwhelming with tweets constantly pouring in and shelf life of what seems like only hours for any given information.

My solution would seem simple, right? I should just NOT do all the things I listed above.  Easier said than done.  So when I read Mike Johansson’s “10 Newbie Twitter Mistakes Made By Businesses” post, I could relate in a personal sense and also learned how these mistakes translate to the PR field.

Some of the mistakes Johansson points out:

Doing little or nothing.” I have to admit, I’m guilty of this. From a business standpoint, a Twitter account’s main goal should be to interact. Be it members, customers, potential customers or even staff, this outlet should be about sharing information. In other words, more of a PR tool than a marketing tool.

Johansson’s most interesting insight is “Wasting background space.” He refers to this space as “real estate” and says this space should be used to display personality. Businesses should capitalize on this space and use only appropriate logos to help extend their image.

His most important tip is “Not helping others.” Followers will increase eventually, but in the meantime take advantage of getting your name out there. He says that even a minimal retweet may help boost your Twitter rep and help to get the most out of Twitter.

In the PR world, social media has become its own industry. Agencies are implementing it as part of campaigns for clients and non-profits and corporations alike are using it to interact with their stakeholders. I want to become a pro at social media so that I will be able to successfully advise clients about it. Not to mention, as an intern and college student, I have found that many professionals in the industry look to us to be experts on the concepts and how to implement them. This can be a great selling point on any resume and I don’t want to be left behind.

Do you think you are living up to your Twitter potential? Why or why not? Do you have any tips for those of us that are stuck or maybe even scared?

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7 Responses to Twitter for those of us that haven’t jumped all the way on the wagon

  1. kwashburn says:

    I think you bring up a valid issue that most likely effects more people than we think. I am one of those people. I began my Twitter account last summer, kept up with it for about four or five weeks and eventually it just didn’t even cross my mind to update it anymore. I don’t think I’ve logged into my account for almost five months. It seems that Twitter, as with any other social media website, is about gaining friends, or followers in this case. If you have more people interested in what you are saying, you will be more interested in updating your account more often. It’s almost a catch 22, because how can you gain more followers if you can’t even keep up with your account? I believe it is all about sticking with it. For example, when Facebook first came onto the social media scene, people were trickling in but at that time it seemed the majority prioritized Myspace as their main social media site. Eventually, companies and friends were joining Facebook left and right, and it seems that has completely dominated Myspace. I am not saying Twitter will dominate Facebook, but I think it still needs a little more time for more people to catch on and commit to their accounts.

  2. srugeris says:

    I think Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are all valuable sources of information for a business and a company’s website should be the location that all these forms of social media come together. If a company has a strong Twitter following and is able to reach a large audience, but the content of the Tweets are meaningless to those who skim them, then time and efforts are wasted. The “Tribes” book we read in JMC 417 gave a good example of how powerful a social following could be. A man in a meeting while at a conference location was seeking people to have a discussion in at a coffee shop and soon, dozens of people arrived. Using the social media tool in this way gives us an opportunity to influence many publics and this is great. I own a Twitter account and know how to use it but I choose remain inactive with my account until I am in a position that requires this effort. I hate publicizing my opinions to strangers so they can judge how I feel about things because it can be completely self serving. If I am already comfortable with my own view on things, then I am not going to force others to see it my way. You can’t have a tribe with all chiefs and no Indians anyway. In five years there will be an easier way to access everything in one webpage location, probably provided to us by some dominating corporation so call me ignorant or lazy but I’ll just wait until then.

  3. cnaughton says:

    kwashburn – Your idea about social media gaining popularity and then fading out after a competitor is introduced. Between MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, there has been a gradual progression from one to the next. They’ve all adapted to allow for companies, organization and other groups to join. Now more than ever it’s about sharing information. This is an interesting concept so we’ll have to see what happens with Twitter from here, but for the record, I agree that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

    srugeris – You’re absolutely right that it’s all about how you use it. Social media is definitely the way of the future.

  4. tburns says:

    This is the one problem I have with being forced to learn all of these social media sites….

    A lot of them have gone in and out of style. If I am working for a company who wants me to use it on their behalf, then I will learn how to use it. However, if I am not very interested in it, and the evidence of Twitter being a permanent news source doesn’t go beyond people in the field saying it is going to be big, then I am not very gun-ho about learning how to use it.

    The field is very unpredictable right now, especially the journalism field upon which a vast majority of PR work depends. Social media will certainly be a concept to stay, but I think that the tools are going to change and alter continuously. Therefore, I do not feel it is completely vital we learn how to use just one tool. As I said, if I am at a job, and my boss wants me to use it, I will learn how to use it. However, unless I have personal interest in the media site, I am not going to be completely excited about being forced to learn how to use it, nor will I will be sold on the vehement idea that “Twitter is the future of news.”

  5. hhoma says:

    I completely agree with Tara. There are just too many social networking sites out there, with more and more being created everyday, it seems. How can we possibly keep track of them all, learn how to use them all effectively and be able to teach others how to do the same? It seems like that’s what some people (like seasoned PR practitioners) are expecting recent college grads to be able to do. It doesn’t make any sense, because as Tara said, a lot of them go in and out of style.

    As I was reading an earlier Textifying post titled, “Social Media Mayhem,” I realized just how out of the loop I really am. The post mentioned five new social media sites – foursquare, Google buzz, Loopt, Groupon and Blippy – none of which I have heard of. It bothers me that just because I am young, some people think I should be on top of this type of thing. I hope potential employers don’t have such high expectations. Like Tara said, I will learn how to use a site if my boss asks me too, but I don’t intend on wasting my time to learn them beforehand when most of them probably won’t stick around anyway.

  6. cnaughton says:

    tburns & hhoma – Thanks for bringing up the plethora of social media sites that we as college students/interns/PR people are stereotypically expected to know. There are so many and while each has their own specific uses, they are not all going to be equally popular (even though that is most likely their goal). I agree with you tburns that until I need to use something I most likely won’t dive fully into it if I’m not interested.

  7. cwilusz says:

    I am still hesitant on entering the twitter world. Maybe its because I truly just do not understand how to work it. I just find it pointless to keep updating everyone on little things about your life, but i feel that eventually I will have to join because employees are looking for people who are knowledgeable on twitter. That brings me into your other point on how social media is becoming its own industry. i feel that as soon to be recent graduates we can make ourselves more marketable by knowing the various social media sites. I cannot tell you how many interviews I have been in where at least one question asks me about my experience with social media.

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