Hopping on the Twitter Train

May 27 2010

Out of all social media tools, Twitter is probably the one that people have the most difficult time warming up to and understanding. It has a special quality that makes nearly anyone feel like they have no idea what they are doing.

That was certainly the way I felt before I arrived at Mambo. During my first week as an intern I had an internal battle with myself over whether it was necessary to open my own personal account. Weighing on one side was the fact that I was an intern at a social media marketing company, and should probably be using social media. On the other hand, the idea of broadcasting to the twittersphere “what’s happening” in my life was enough to make me want to fly south for the winter. Can you think of a question better designed to ward off a web introvert? I can’t! And let’s face it, most of the people on the web are introverts – listeners, not contributors.  Even the majority of Tweeters are surprisingly tweet-less – some 73% take one look at Twitter’s call to action, make a few hesitant tweets into the vacuum, and rarely bother again.

A few weeks later I finally opened an account. Tweets = 0. I was now part of the majority of the twittersphere – silent and inactive. There was a mysterious segment of users that seemed to have unlocked the mysterious secret of Twitter – professionals networking, businesses leaving a trail of placated customers, and non-profits bringing in a stream of donations – that were still a mystery to me. It wasn’t till I spent some quality time with the BEAT, Mambo Media’s listening system, that the missing piece of the Twitter puzzle finally fell into place for me.

It’s not exactly breaking news that the place to start with any social media effort is listening. Twitter, however, makes is ridiculously hard for your average, non social media obsessed user (many of whom are running non social media obsessed companies) to actually monitor. Typing a keyword into Twitter’s search just doesn’t cut it. An in depth listening system like Mambo’s definitely makes things easier, but an application like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and a few carefully selected keywords will still bring a wealth of filtered, relevant information to your fingertips. You’ll soon find that it’s all but impossible to resist the urge to retweet the best of what comes through, and you’ll soon start contributing to the conversation yourself.

Now that Twitter is launching its business center, Twitter is only going to become more relevant as companies attempt to streamline and nurture their relationships with their customers. The next time you are trying to convert a colleague to Twitter, instead of waxing poetic about Tweeting, try extolling the virtues of your preferred monitoring tool.

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