Wired Pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

I ran across this new saying at a panel discussion I was on regarding teaching with technology. Got me thinking. Has Google replaced thinking? Has Twitter replaced speaking?

I don’t think so. I think it’s more a comment on the impact the Internet and social media is having on our culture. Both positive and negative. We now have new ways of learning about new topics and verifying facts.

But with all the user generated content on the web, how do we ensure the accuracy of what we’re reading? Studies on Wikipedia have shown it is as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. But what about other sources? Do sites referenced by a Google search provide us with accurate information?

There used to also be another saying, “If it’s printed in the newspaper it must be true.” Is society transferring that (potentially unknowingly) to the Internet?

Not a nice title I know. But I’ve been thinking about Twitter a lot lately. Mostly just thinking, cause since I started my PhD I’ve been bad at keeping up with it.

Personally I use Twitter to tap into the eyes and ears of others who share my interests. They point me to articles, ideas, and conversations I likely never would have come across on my own. The key is to find the experts who tweet about relevant useful things you’re  interested in.

Since I’ve been so bad at keeping up, I often go back and read the stream of tweets from 2, even 3 days ago. I’m noticing some interesting patterns. I’ve tried to come up with some “twitterisms” naming the different phenomenon I’m observing:

Twitter Re-re’s: People who only RT others. They typically don’t have any original content of their own. “She’s just a Twitter Re-re trying to up her Twitter rank.”

Twitter vomit: What happens when people sign on to Twitter and spew forth 5 or more tweets in a row.  These guys typically leave their mark (so to speak) then they’re not heard from for the rest of the day. “Whoa, did you see all the twitter vomit from @lerickson today? Jeeze.”

Tweefer-heads: People whose tweets either make no sense or are totally random. “That guy is lost in his own world. What a tweefer-head.”

Twiticism: When someone corrects you or has issues with your tweet. “I don’t mind a little twiticism, but do we really need the four letter words too?”

Tweeches: People who attach themselves to everyone on twitter trying to up their numbers. “This guy has over 10,000 people he’s following and only one tweet. What a tweech.”

A “twituation”: Any highly tweeted breaking situation or event. “Check out the twituation Kanye’s got himself into now.”

I’m mulling around with the idea of putting together a twictionary of such terms. Please submit any you know of, or any you make up.

duck“Aflac!” We’ve all heard it and we all know it’s the Aflac duck. As a brand symbol, the Aflac duck has been one of the most successful in terms of recognition. Not so good in terms of people knowing what the company does, but certainly an excellent tool for building initial awareness. Well now the duck has turned to social media and is doing a pretty good job.

Duck, duck, Facebook.

The Aflac duck is now on Facebook. But what the duck is doing right that other aren’t is this…

  1. He, I’m assuming it’s a he, doesn’t just talk about himself and his company. He brings humor and personality to his posts with a lot of duck references and photos of his workplace.
  2. He shows a softer, more personal side of the company by uses his page to raise money for the Aflac Cancer Center charity. (They raised over $1M). He posts videos of the children who receive these donations.
  3. He uses contest to draw people into participation.
  4. He’s current – linking to popular videos on YouTube and icanhascheezburger.com.

As of this post he has over 160,000 fans. But we all know that just having fans doesn’t mean engagement. According to Alfac, their fan page receives more interaction per fan than any of the other top 10 fan pages (iMedia). Just check out his photo page and you can see all the people uploading photos of ducks and commenting on them.

A duck that quacks and tweets.

Aflac is also using Twitter to reach out to customers and extend their brand awareness. As with Facebook, they are talking about more than just themselves. From a Twitter perspective they are also doing some things right:

  • The writing is light and witty.
  • They cross-promote their charities (and fun videos) here as well as on Facebook.
  • They have a combination of just simple tweets, RTs, and links to other sites. Mimics what real “tweeple” do.
  • And again humor, personality, and references to current events abound. Just cracked some Skittles, then Kanye came out of nowhere and grabbed them. I guess Beyonce deserved them more.” How do you not smile?

The duck is also active on Twibe for popular shows like LOST and The Office, and uses twitpic.

Extending the Aflac brand.

Alfac is a great example of how to extend your brand using social media. The company also seems to be just trying things out and feeling their way through – another great lesson.  They understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. They can walk before they run. (OK, I’m down with the cheesy clichés.)

Will it create more business? We’ll have to wait and see But awareness and connection to the brand is the first step to getting new customers. The duck connects you to the company and that trickles down for many into a feeling that the company is more than just a corporate entity, that it’s personal.  Exactly what you’d want in an insurance company.

Kudos to Alfac.

Seems that many conversations I’m in today are all a twitter about Twitter (pun intended).  I find that most people have heard about it, some have an idea what it is, and less are actually using it.  ­.

For those of you using it, I’d be interested in how you find it most helpful. For those of you who don’t, here’s my 2 cents (in Twitter style – 140 characters at a time).

It’s IM on steroids or a teeny tiny blog with a bazillion writers.

Twitter is a microblog. That means you can only type up to 140 characters at any one time.

You “follow” people, which means you see whatever they type.  If you have an account, people can also follow you and see what you type.

Each twitter “address” starts with @.  (e.g., @lerickson). You also have a photo.  When you tweet, people see your photo and what you type.

You can @reply, which means you are directing your tweet back to a specific person.  Anyone who follows you can see your @reply.

You can also direct message someone. Only that person will see your direct message.

It’s all about what you’re doing.

Twitter is intended to allow people to listen in to what you’re up to.  Basically follow you throughout your day.

There are Twitters who tweet about everything they do. And there are those who tweet mostly about the latest events or news in their industry.

There are also people whose only objective is to get as many followers as possible and those trying to sell you stuff.

Who hangs out on Twitter?

I find that a lot of journalists, experts, vendors, and IT people hang out on Twitter. Oh, and of course social media freaks.

I follow people who share my interests and who tweet mostly about relevant, interesting content around those interests.

I find people who include links to other sites, news stories, or latest expert advice to be the most helpful.

You often hear it first on Twitter.

I often hear about things early, because I have access to so many other people with similar interests who are looking for the latest too.

I don’t have to do all the searching. People filter through everything and point me to most important stuff.

I’ve found speakers for EB events, been offered discounts to switch to a competitor’s solution, and found great stories to blog about.

I feel connected to a larger pool of experts.

Slice and dice followers to help make it manageable.

Following a bunch of people can be overwhelming.  I use TweetDeck to sort by “best content” and by subject areas to help scan tweets better.

When I’m in a hurry I scan the best content, then later go back and see what others have said.

If I’m looking for advice or expertise on a specific topic, I look for tweets with specific words. Twitter search lets you do this too.

Where do I start?

Start by listening.  Create an account, search for keywords to find people talking about your interest, follow them, then listen in.

Put a note on your monitor to remind yourself to check it every now and then. It takes a while to get it into your routine.

If you don’t want to read it everyday, you can go back when you have time and see what people in your industry are talking about.

Even if you never do anything else but listen, you’ll have access to a ton of good info. The key is to find what’s right for you.

You can follow me @lerickson.  I welcome your comments here or there.

Sometimes it’s hard to accurately describe how the world in changing due to social media and the power of the Internet to connect people in a real-time way.  It’s a shift in how you think about being “connected”.  ­

I’m always looking for examples of real events and uses to help better illustrate what’s changed.  Here’s a story that totally does that for me.

A Berkeley graduate student, James Buck, was in Egypt doing a project for his masters degree thesis on Egypt’s “new leftists and the blogosphere”.  He was using Twitter and a blog to keep everyone up-to-date on what he was doing and where he was.

Through Twitter, he heard that a planned protest against high food priced and low wages had been shut down by the authorities, and many of the individual involved in the planning had been detained.  Family and friends of those detained created a protest of their own and things got pretty heated.

Buck when to cover the protest and wisely stayed away from the fray so he wouldn’t be mistaken for a protester.  But not far enough as he and his friend were detained and questioned.  Worried that he be “off the grid”, he Twittered the word “arrested” from the back of the police car on his way to the station.

That single word started a chain of events, alerting Buck’s friends on two continents (US and in Egypt) instantly that he was being detained.  His friends used the web to get the word out and document what was happening.  Buck was also able to send hourly updated letting his friends know he was ok and what was going on.

Eventually Buck was release, Twittering “free” as he left the jail.

That’s incredible.  Read the entire story on CNN.com.


Twitter updates

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