Maybe you haven’t jumped in to start using Twitter yet…

Remember when voice mail came to the office.  “No way am I using voice mail.  If a live person isn’t answering the phone, then I’m not doing business with them.”  (Bet you’ve left a few voice mails in your life.)

Remember when email came to the office. “No way am I using email.  I’ll have my secretary print out the emails and I’ll call people back.”  (Bet you’ve got good at responding to emails.)

Remember the first time you sent a text message to the office.  “No way am I texting, that’s for kids.”  Yeah, right.  First text I sent saved me a customer when my email didn’t go thru from my mobile phone about an editor that wanted to get a call back ASAP to feature one of our clients in next month’s magazine issue.  I was sitting in a workshop, saw the email and forwarded to the office.  No response. 15 minutes later I texted.  Instant response, “nope, didn’t get the email. What’s up?”

So now it’s Twitter.  It’s on the TV news. Newspapers are doing it.  Small business. Big business. Airlines, restaurants, city managers and moms. Everyone’s either trying to figure it out or they’ve decided they’ll never do it.

If you’re thinking about starting, here are my 3 rules:

1) Don’t be afraid.
2) Be nice, be fair, be kind.
3) Brand yourself

Don’t be afraid to try new apps (applications).  Twhirl is a Twitter application that makes it easier to send “tweets” while still trying to get some work done. TweetDeck breaks down Twitter into more bite sized pieces — for instance, you can have a section of your screen that searches terms to find more like minded individuals or organizations. TweetLater lets you create tweets scheduled for the future.

You can use Twitter to broadcast (regular tweet). But the real power comes when you use it to hold a conversation that others can evesdrop on (and @chrisbrown330) or directly respond (d chrisbrown330) or repost some helpful information (RT retweet) or even to check out someone’s website, profile or who follows them. Or who they follow. There’s more to it than meets the eye… it’s not just about someone listing what they had for breakfast (although weightwatchers do that by using a #tep hash tag to track their eating points with a tweet eat post.) The hash tag comes in really handy when you’re at a conference. You can search twitter by using # to read what the other people in the room are tweeting about or if you can’t make the conference and want to “hear” what they’re saying. (search #CeBIT in Twitter to see what’s going on at the CeBIT conference.)

Be nice, be fair, be kind are the same as the rules for blogging. Remember whatever you say becomes searchable and stays on the internet forever. Don’t be mean. If you wouldn’t want it plastered as the headline of your local newspaper, then don’t send it.

Brand yourself by using the same photo and nickname that you’ve used in other social media. This helps your followers to recognize you and relate more quickly. Twitter really is about speed and learning about things quickly. Think about the name, profile and photo you select – is it for personal use, business use or for one of your volunteer commitments — or all three?

So, if you’re ready to get started, set up an account and come follow me

Do You Twhirl, Twitter or Tweet?
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