A Practical Use for Twitter

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Twitter for businessTwitter is all the rage with business folks these days, (if you’re a social media butterfly it’s been the rage for you for about a year and a half) but is it useful?

Many business owners find it a bit silly, but still, everybody’s talking about it, right?

There are many practical ways to use Twitter depending upon your online goals, but here’s one that pretty much anyone can benefit from.

Twitter has a search feature found at search.twitter.com that allows you to search through the entire Twitter universe for conversations about any search term. Right off the bat this is a great way to monitor, in very real time, everything that’s being said about you, your brand, your products, your company, your boss, or your industry. I found a chap once asking if anyone knew if John Jantsch was an honest guy – well, who better than me to answer that tweet? You can even subscribe to the RSS feed for your particular searches and read the updates on your RSS reader.

Another great use of this feature is that it allows you to potentially follow and connect with people who are talking about the same things you are interested in. So, if you set-up a search for “marketing” you may easily find other folks who are interested in the same. (Hint: if your search term is more than one word, like your name – put quotes around it. “john jantsch”)

At the end of the day most of the social media tools are about connection as much as they are about communication of anything. Use Twitter to listen and connect before you get too concerned about blasting your own message to the world.


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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, John! Just one more point for you small business marketers — I work in PR and use Twitter to follow journalists who cover topics relevant to my clients and to follow a number of key media outlets. Some reporters will “tweet” about a story they’re working on and ask for sources, etc., which is a very quick and easy way to position yourself or your company as a resource for journalists that are important to you. If you’re smart about what you do on Twitter and elsewhere online, you can get a lot of mileage out of these great new tools. Good luck! If you decide to use Twitter, you can find me @lorirusso.

  2. @Lori – great add-on – I often talk about making comments on blogs written by journalists this is another great way to build relationships.

  3. Using Summize or now Search.twitter.com is a great way to start to listen to your customers. By finding the appropriate conversations on Twitter, companies can answer questions, deepen engagement, and strengthen relationships with their customers. This is exactly what leading companies on Twitter like Zappos, Dell, HR Block and Comcast are doing. And I’m sure we’ve all seen the documented results.

  4. I’ve set up twitter for some of my clients. I use a wordpress plug-in (http://blog.victoriac.net/blog/twitter-updater) so that whenever they make a new post it sends the title and link to twitter, click my name for an example.

    I also followed a few people (go slow on adding follows or you’ll look like a spammer) who twitted about related subjects. Many of them started following my clients and participate in the blog comments.

  5. I haven’t been able to figure out any angle to use twitter in the business world, however, this blog post argues it (and other micro blogs) are akin to a secret backdoor through which to connect to people of business interest.
    http://www.smallbiztrends.com/2008/07/get-access-social-media.html/

    I don’t know about that but the dude’s quote is killer: “Blogs are the big show, IM/social media is the backstage pass and twitter/micro-blogging is the afterparty. It’s about layers of access.”

  6. It appears for all but the most followed people that you can generate one curious-to-find-out-who-you-are visitor to your website for every person you follow on Twitter. That’s a tough way to build traffic, but COULD be an interesting “rifle” approach to attracting well qualified visitors. Still finding my way on this tool. Still interesting.

  7. This search facility is awesome. I first discovered it with Summize.com which was later acquired by Twitter and now has the url search.twitter.com.

    Actually I am a little sad to see Summize go. I was hoping they would add other micro blogging search capabilities to the current Twitter search.

    With this acquisition, it doesn’t seem to be a possibility

  8. Excellent article John. I have been keeping an eye on this subject over at the Thirty Day Challenge where Ed Dale has been pumping out a lot of free info about using Twitter, along with FriendFeed, and other social apps for marketing. The challenge starts Aug 1st for anyone interested.

  9. John, your post was extremely helpful. I recently started using Twitter not too long ago and did not realize that I could actually use search in the way you suggested. At first, I thought twitter was a different kind of aim/aol. After reading a little more about it I realized that its actually an incredible networking tool that can be used to meet new people in many industries. Your blog has really helped me with marketing my own website. Your ideas are extremely smart and innovative. I was wondering if you could give any advice on putting together a strong social media strategy. You can follow me @garbarrassing on Twitter.
    Also, I would like to thank you for your help. Your advice has been invaluable!

  10. @ John and @ Warren Thanks for the call out! Twitter continues to be a great way for Dell to interact with customers and share information. Search.twitter.com (aka Summize) helps our team find customers and conversations to engage with and follow people that are as fascinated with social media as we are. Find me (the new Small Business Community Manager) on twitter @ kara_atDELL.

  11. I’ve tried and I’ve tried… but I never really got the appeal of twitter. It always seemed to me like a bunch of 14 year old kids, along with a bunch of internet marketers looking to get rich. But no real exploitable markets for my industry.

  12. I’m with you, John – there’s definitely more to Twitter than fleeting social tweets… though I’m still trying to understand what that may be. The application alternately fascinates and bores me. So far, searching for like-minded users and topical conversations is the most engaging feature for me.

    Have you checked out tweetbeep.com or tweetlater.com? Worth a look.

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