The hunger for being noticed, validated and connected runs deep in our culture, and now with thousands of people jumping on line to do video blogging through sources like You Tube, everyone can be seen across the world immediately, and the reality is that no one even has a “private life” anymore. Ten years ago President Clinton requested that people leave his private life out of the media. This would never happen today. People are now mixing personal life with their business life, and putting it on line for the whole world to see!

Recently, I’ve become engaged with which has become quite the “buzz” among many business professionals and individuals. According to their website, “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

After signing up, the main purpose is to update your “Tweets” as much as you can. These mini messages are up to 140 characters in length so it forces the writer of the message to be short and concise. It’s almost like a real time mini blog or a crib note version of the real blog. You can link and control your Twitter account to your own social networking sites like Facebook, your cell phone, IM or most 3rd party applications by using designated Twitter commands. Twitter messages can sent out as text to cell phones.

Once you start inviting your own friends or business contacts, which you can do by uploading your data base or just selecting people you want to engage with on a regular basis without picking up the phone or having to email, you then can start “following” friends and they can start “following” you. Many people end up following the “stars” in their own profession, so they can learn a bit about them professionally and personally. It does appear that most people update it throughout the day, so they mix a bit of their personality in with their business conversations.

Imagine having to take a mini poll of your friends to find out who is going to a particular networking event or whether or not if anyone has any good ideas of where to take the boss to lunch? Or, you are finding you aren’t so creative at the moment and need to come up with a good idea, so you decide to throw a question out to your friends on Twitter. So, you write a “tweet” and post it and within minutes, several of your friends or associates fire back with different answers that are listed right before you. It’s a time saver and an efficient way of communicating, similar to texting but to a much larger group of people.
For the business person, there are many other ways to use Twitter. First of all, it’s a great way to alert your friends and customers about what is happening in your workplace any given time. It can announce upcoming events, a new post on your blog; to share resources, to make announcements that might also traditionally go out in a newsletter and generally to build and strengthen relations. Lee Odden of Top Rank Blog has conducted a reader poll asking how people use Twitter. The top three uses of Twitter as
· Sharing links to items of interest to your network (34%)
· Networking for new contacts (18%)
· Reinforcing current network contacts (16%)
A potential downfall that I see happening is similar to the blogging behind the scenes about companies. Since many people are using Twitter to communicate with friends throughout their work day on a real time basis, it might be wise to discuss with all employees about any confidential information that should not ever be discussed or written about in any form. Additionally, if you are sharing personal information along with professional, you always have to keep in mind your professional identity and reputation.
On the other hand, because people update their Twitter accounts quite frequently, you can start to see a pattern of their work habits, their personalities, what interests them, the causes they care about, information about where they go after work, and you start to understand them as a person on a different level. You even start to care about them and respect them for the amount of work that they seem to get done or for being such a caring family person. This is just one more way for our customers to engage with us as people, and not just as a business.
By building and maintaining your clientele and community through Twitter, you can create a fun, hip and edgy way to create a buzz around your product, service or company. And while you are having all of this fun, you can be engaging your potential customers not only as people but as fans.