50 Business Uses For Twitter

An excellent post by Chris Brogan. I was already compiling a list myself.  However, Chris presents a compelling list.

First Steps
  1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture. ( Shel reminds us of this.) We want to see you.
  3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  5. Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)
  7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)
  9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELL, LionelAtDELL, etc.
  10. Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.
Ideas About WHAT to Tweet
  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much.
  10. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.
Some Sanity For You
  1. You don’t have to read every tweet.
  2. You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  3. Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from @pistachio).
  4. Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.
  5. 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  6. If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.
  7. If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.
  8. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  9. If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.
  10. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.
The Negatives People Will Throw At You
  1. Twitter takes up time.
  2. Twitter takes you away from other productive work.
  3. Without a strategy, it’s just typing.
  4. There are other ways to do this.
  5. As Frank hears often, Twitter doesn’t replace customer service (Frank is @comcastcares and is a superhero for what he’s started.)
  6. Twitter is buggy and not enterprise-ready.
  7. Twitter is just for technonerds.
  8. Twitter’s only a few million people. (only)
  9. Twitter doesn’t replace direct email marketing.
  10. Twitter opens the company up to more criticism and griping.
Some Positives to Throw Back
  1. Twitter helps one organize great, instant meetups (tweetups).
  2. Twitter works swell as an opinion poll.
  3. Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.
  4. Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”
  5. Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).
  6. Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?
  7. Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).
  8. Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.
  9. Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online (mine are).
  10. Twitter can augment customer service. (but see above)

What else would you add? How are you using Twitter for your business?

By the way, Jeremiah Owyang has a great post on this, too.

[UPDATE]  Jake has just sent me his three Twitter business uses too (Via Twitter of course!)

Everything Is Better Than Zero

Some more wise words from Gary Vaynerchuk. For people starting out in social media, trying to build their online brand. Time, is a valuable resource.  You’ve read the books, heard the success stories from others and now you want to harness the power of social media for yourself.

The problem is time. When can I find the time do this ‘stuff’? As Gary points out, many people in business suffer from a lack of patience. Building an online brand takes time.

Gary, does go on a bit in the above video. However, the key message in building your online social capital is two-fold:

  • Patience
  • Everything is better than zero

Short and to the point.

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Personality Not Included – A Book Review


“The moment that organisations lose  their personality is when their employees become “people” rather than individuals…”.

As many of my readers and friends know. I’m very much in touch with the “human side of business”, especially forming a connection with people. Revealing, the honest, sincere and human side of your business to your customers has repeatedly proved to be a good thing. It’s the key to delighting them and making sure they stay with us for a very long time.

Rohit Bhargava as an author is right up there with the likes of Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Why? Because he tells it like it is. Jargon is left at the door and the book uses great worldwide examples of excellent personality branding. It’s nice to see an American author who shows a refreshing awareness that we all don’t live in America!

Wow. I must admit, Rohit actually had me at “hello” with this book. The book brings together, my own personal experiences of business differentiation. Learning, from companies such as Moo and Innocent Drinks (Also mentioned in the book). Rohit did an excellent job of drawing me in with his great writing style and a clear passion for the subject.

Throughout the book he provides many examples of businesses which are successfully using the techniques within the book. The case studies were almost enough to sell me the book alone. However, learning about each technique and then being given an interesting and detailed example of how each idea can be implemented in real life was fantastic. It was was great to see Steve, Hugh and the Blue Monster also getting a mention – Rock On!

Personality Not Included successfully leads the reader through the process of building a company personality. Rohit’s approach impressed me in a number of ways. Firstly he outlined all the key elements. I especially liked his “UAT Filter“- the three core qualities of a company personality:

  1. Unique
  2. Authentic
  3. Talkable

Spot on. Secondly, he presented great examples from several companies for each element.

As I finished reading Part 1, Rohit did something that many marketing writers do not usually do. He wrote a “Part 2?. The second part of the book focuses on how to put the discussion in Part 1 into action. To further guide the reader through the process, Rohit provides a number of tools and frameworks to help. The book is broken down into the following chapters:

Part One

Chapter 1 – Faceless used to work because big meant credible. This is no longer true

Chapter 2 – Accidental spokespeople are speaking for your brand – Embrace them

Chapter 3Uniqueness plus Authenticity plus Talkability equals personality. Use the UAT Filter

Chapter 4 – Backstories establish a foundation of credibility. You need onq.

Chapter 5 – Fear of change leads to barriers. Finding your authority overcomes them

Chapter 6 – Personality moments are everywhere and unexpected, but you must spot them

Part Two – (Putting Personality into Action)

• New Styles of Marketing (Ten Techniques are Described in Detail)
• Taking Theory Further (Tools and Guides to Accompany Chapters 1 – 6)

The key theme from the first half of the book is that personality matters, because it is the element of your brand that inspires loyalty more than any product feature or element of your service ever can.

Rohit reminds the reader, that consumers aren’t just buying a product or service from you. They are buying “into” a whole experience. If they find the experience positive, they are very likely to purchase again, and/or recommend your business to others. As a text book, Personality not Included could also be used to boost your own “Personal Branding”.

If you love Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki then you’ll love Rohit Bhargava. If you are looking for a refreshing and up-to-the-minute business read, then you could do no better.

To conclude, Bhargava’s marketing experiences with the world’s leading companies has produced the definitive book that explains “Personality Branding”, in a practical, understandable and actionable way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for any entrepreneur, business person, or anyone who wants to better understand how ‘personality’ can impact a business.

If you are interested in learning more about this book, download the book’s intro. Or, purchase online from Amazon.

Digital Nomads keep Dell Weird

“Keep Dell Weird”, a recent post from Hugh grabbed my attention.

[NOTE TO PEOPLE WHO WORK AT DELL:] Remember where you’re from. Austin, Texas. Love it. Cherish it. Never forget it. Rock on.

I’ve long admired Dell. I believe their products offer good value for money and their consumer and corporate products appeal to a wide section of people.

IMHO, “Keep Dell Weird” suggests a company that is different to others in its industry. It recognises that its audience is different and the company is passionate about delivering great products. But also, passionate people who work at Dell want to connect and engage with everyday people.

If this sounds reminiscent of the Blue Monster, there is definitely some cross over. However, back to Dell.

Dell has been a great poster child in its adoption and embracement  of Web 2.0 technologies.  The Texas based company has also been one of the few companies to embrace the wisdom of the crowd with its IdeaStorm site. The company runs an SME blog and more recently has embraced the use of Twitter. You  can even find Dell’s CEO on Facebook if you look hard enough.

However, Dell’s new social media related site, digital nomads recently caught my eye.


Digital Nomads is a site for those of us who work regularly on the move. Perhaps out of coffee shops or airports. Or, maybe those who drag their office around with them in a rucksack. The Digital Nomads site is specifically catered for the mobile warrior. The site also rocks for a number of very cool reasons.  

Firstly, the site is led by Lionel Menchaca, Dell’s Chief Blogger, and Dell’s Bruce Eric Anderson. Thus, the dialogue is authentic and from within Dell.

Secondly, it’s a great for sharing content. We, as digital nomads can go there, participate in and read posts that might interest us. However, we can also read posts from within Dell and learn all about exciting projects and tools that we can use, to make our lives easier

You can also grab digital nomad wallpapers and your own digital nomad badge from the site. Tres cool.

This is going to be a fascinating project to observe and participate in.  Dell’s on going conversation with the audience is great and my opinion keep’s Dell Weird!

Nice work Dell.

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Why Twitter Hasn’t Failed: The Power Of Audience

Picture Credit

A great post on Twitter via TechCrunch

Twitter isn’t for everyone, and you may have dismissed the service a long time ago. But regardless of your own use, it’s hard to dismiss the phenomenon itself and the passion of so many that has built up around it.

No matter how long the outage du jour, Twitter users continue to stay attached to the service despite an ever-changing backdrop of alternatives. Blogging isn’t for everyone either. But unlike blogging, Twitter enjoys a far a greater variety of users — they include people, many people, who would never think of starting a blog and people who would never touch an RSS reader. The 140 character limit is a plus for Twitter, but it isn’t all.

What explains the Twitter phenomenon then?

That produces the positive feeling and the strong attachment among those who tweet? And moreover: How can other systems learn from this?

The answer lies in understanding Audience.

Twitter has a simple premise: You tweet & the message is pushed to your friends. The actual mechanics are slightly different (messages go to everyone who follows you, whether they’re your “friends” or not, assuming your stream is public) — but from a user’s perspective, the circle of receivers consists only of the people they know. Everyone else is part of a faceless crowd that’s hidden behind the follower count.
This simple premise holds the key to Twitter’s success: messages go to a well-defined audience. In the moment you release a tweet, you know who’s on the line and you have an idea of who can catch a glimpse of your message. @replies are the best illustration for this sense of audience: Even though Twitter is not a point-to-point message delivery system (let alone a reliable one), @replies are sent with the understanding that they will be read by the intended people because they are known to be in the audience. (Imagine a newspaper article that suddenly greeted a specific reader.)

Blogging on the other hand has no such clearly defined audience. An aspiring blogger who hasn’t crossed the chasm speaks into the void. Direct feedback can only come in the form of written comments (a relatively high barrier of effort) and it’s diminished by spam and vocal trolls these days.

FeedBurner’s subscriber count only provides the equivalent of Twitter’s opaque follower count and MyBlogLog didn’t solve this problem either.

So it’s not surprising that the majority of blogs are abandoned — the most-cited reason being “No one was reading it.” No one might be following your Twitter stream either, but Twitter is designed for network effects to take hold and given the natural reciprocity among groups of friends, it’s likely that most people have at least a handful of followers they know.

Back to Twitter: Why Audience works

Twitter works and enjoys such strong attachment because it provides real-time access to a well-defined audience. The backlog of all previous tweets is a guarantee of permanence (you can even search it) and you can catch up on it anytime. As a result, people use Twitter because they have an idea of who will see their lightweight messages and this sense of audience is reinforced by @replies, re-tweets and references in future conversations (online and offline).

Designing for the sense of Audience is a powerful tool to create cohesion and a sense of utility among users of a service. This lesson from Twitter can apply to many other services too. But before leaving the current discussion, it’s helpful to look at a service that has missed the full power of Audience so far.

Facebook: Designed for Audience? Not so much.
Facebook isn’t about Audience? That’s ridiculous, you’ll say — so let me clarify. I fully agree that social network profiles are all about self-expression and being seen, but a platform for self-expression isn’t necessarily designed for the audience that does “the seeing.”
Profile Pages on Facebook can have audiences of course, but this requires that users continually roam Facebook to look for news in their network. Facebook realized this limitation and introduced the News Feed. Its intent was to move a user’s “acts and performances” from the stage of the profile page to a single and central stage, a single place for Audience.

Sharing with the News Feed: Did it ever reach my friends?
Facebook was the first major social network to introduce the News Feed concept, which has since become a standard sauce for stickiness in many places (although not StudiVZ surprisingly). But Facebook’s implementation of the News Feed doesn’t capture the full power of designing for Audience: While Twitter distributes every message consistently, Facebook decides algorithmically which update is shown to whom. Algorithmic filtering is nice in theory, but such black-box behavior is simply unpredictable for the user.
“When I post new things, will my friends actually see them?”, one might wonder. And conversely: “Have my friends posted something that I’m not seeing? The news feed is cluttered right now with people I don’t care about.” Anything that’s unpredictable produces a feeling of uncertainty — and that’s never a comfortable feeling.

Even with Facebook’s recent attempts to introduce smarter filters, users only have relative means to customize their feed (more of this, less of that). Furthermore, there is mostly just one kind of feedback that users can give on the News Feed: comments. Imagine a concert, in which you could only leave written notes as you left — no clapping, no booing.

Because users don’t really know who’s listening on Facebook and who isn’t, the platform hasn’t been embraced as a place to publish proactively. Publishing events or photos is mostly push-driven (and generates an email — “you are invited to an event” or “tagged in a photo”). But for everything else you share, do you know if it ever reached your friends?

Who capitalized on this gap? FriendFeed.
It’s the same setup as Twitter, but with more content: You know who’s listening and you choose the people you listen to. A useful premise but it also has a catch: the word “more”. Too much content, too many people — which is exactly the problem that Facebook is trying to address with its algorithmic feed. But what’s a solution then? It’s not the “middle ground” and it has nothing to do with smarter filters.

The answer is feedback loops. But that opens up another discussion. If you’d like to read more, I have a separate post on my website, in which I elaborate on how to design for Audience.

One point I would add, is the eco system of applications and services that have built around Twitter. Using a client such as Twhirl, greatly improves the Twitter experience and is highly advised when using the Twitter service.

Gregor Hochmuth is the founder of zoo-m.com Interactive, where he created Mento, LaterLoop and other services. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he worked as an analyst for Hasso Plattner Ventures and has written about German startups on TechCrunch.