Don’t knock it ’til you try it

twitter means business

Book Review
Twitter Means Business: How Microblogging can help or hurt your company
By Julio Ojeda-Zapata. HappyAbout Books, 2008. 141 pages.

Just about the time some people have gotten comfortable blogging, along comes the next new thing, blowing people away and making blogs look, well, old hat.

In fact, that new thing, microblogging, isn’t all that new. It’s just that Twitter has exploded onto the communication scene, grabbing major mind share and many eyeballs.

Whether you’re a seasoned Twitter user or a newcomer, this book will pump you up and lead you to new resources.

The author, Julio Ojeda-Zapata, is a Minnesota-based tech columnist and reporter for the Pioneer-Press. He packs this book with examples of why people and companies Tweet, and how they do it.

He documents dozens of corporate Twitter users including Best Buy, Home Depot, Starbucks, Sprint Nextel, Comcast, JetBlue, and Whole Foods. H&R Block uses Twitter as a customer-support tool, a public-relations tool, and a product-development tool. Customers tweet about what they like and don’t like about the company’s online services and desktop software.

But Ojeda-Zapata holds up the e-tailer Zappos as his Twitter poster child. “No company has embraced the service more fully and enthusiastically,” he says.

One tactical decision to make before moving forward: Will you engage in two-way conversations as a rule, or mostly push information outward? It is a common dilemma when firms set up Twitter accounts. Some use them for conversation, others for distribution.

You can use Twitter’s standard page template, or opt for free alternatives that offer more bells and whistles, including Twhirl, TweetDeck, Twitterific, mobile phone apps, and add-ons for the Firefox browser.

I found really helpful Ojeda-Zapata’s descriptions of Twitter-related services:
Tweet Scan is a general purpose Twitter search engine that offers several automated-delivery options.
Twellow is a sort of Yellow Pages of the Twitterverse that groups users by categories.
TwitScoop scours the Twitterverse and analyzes which words and phrases are hot.
The Social Brand Index (formerly the Twitter Brand Index) is a directory of brands in the corporate, media, and academic spheres, among others.
Twitterati features many of the major Twitter users including social media gurus.

A “Twitter lesson” follows each case studies in the book, for example:
Obsessing about what your customers are saying about you in he Twitterverse could be one of the keys to a thriving business. Wake up and pay attention!
Find the conversations that mention you, join them, and turn negatives into positives with zero spin and lots of love.
Enter the Twitterverse on your own terms, but with customers in mind. Celebrate their creativity, reward it, and they’ll love you for it.
Share information that can others enjoy themselves and make better consumer decisions.

In fact, Albert Maruggi’s Afterword observes that Twitter is popular because it taps human needs—the desire we have to connect, to be curious, to seek recognition, to be part of something, and to share.


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