July 20, 2008

Tap into Social Media: Why ‘Tweet’Could Be the Next Biz Buzzword

By Jessica Milcetich, York Daily Record, Pa.

Jul. 20--If a few years ago someone had asked me what a "tweet" was, I would have told them it was the sound a bird makes.

Only more recently would I have said a tweet is a posting on Twitter.


What the heck is that?

Unless you are really tapped into the newest methods of social media and technology, Twitter is most likely something new to you.

So consider this your Twitter tutorial.

You just might learn a thing or two about how social media can save you a few precious work-day minutes or work as a tool to build new relationships with clients and colleagues.

"Twitter is a combination of text message and blogging," said Albert Maruggi, a senior fellow at the Society for New Communications Research in Palo Alto,


Twitter asks people what they are doing and gives them 140 characters to provide an answer.

It has similar characteristics of a chat room or messages boards, Maruggi said.

People post what's going on in their worlds via the Internet, cell phones or instant messaging.

If you start following "bizblog" on Twitter, you'll see that I post about area gas prices, stories I'm working on and other random facts that I stumbled across in my research. Sometimes it's relevant to work, sometimes it's not.

The posts don't just go into the open abyss of the Internet. Instead, users can choose to "follow" people, which means on their Twitter home page, they get the updates other users have posted.

I follow local people who are on Twitter and some companies, such as Comcast. (We'll get to Comcast being on Twitter in a minute.)

It's a great way for me to gauge what's on the minds of people in York.

Sounds like a great way to stay in the social loop with friends, but how is this applicable to businesses?

Good question.

"A business may want to use Twitter if they want to go out and establish relationships with other early-adoptive-type individuals," Maruggi said. "Anyone in technology should be on

Twitter. Anyone in consumer products should absolutely take a look at Twitter."

Why? Because Twitter is a great tool for building relationships.

You can follow people who are on the cutting edge of your industry and have up-to-the-minute news on the latest developments.

"I can get the benefit of their knowledge and their network for free," Maruggi said.

Twitter is also a sales tool for many businesses, including Dell, which uses Twitter to post notices about sales.

"It's more spontaneous than an e-mail newsletter that might come out weekly or monthly," Maruggi said.

Users who follow Dell will be the first to know about the latest sales.

And it's a way companies can provide excellent customer service.

H&R Block

is one company that does that, Maruggi said.

If people are Twittering about taxes or have questions about 1040s, H&R Block can search for those people and then offer answers or suggestions.

Similarly, Comcast watches for mentions as a way to resolve issues.

For companies that want to try implementing Twitter into their business plan, Maruggi has these tips:

--Starting and maintaining a Twitter account does require some time.

It's not a good way to find new leads quickly to make your numbers by the end of the month.

--Visit www.tweetscan.com or

www.summize.com and type in keywords that apply to your business to find other people Twittering about the same thing.

--Once you

find those people, you can see who they are following and expand your network from there.

For those that are still skeptical, Maruggi said this: "I'm a 50-year-old guy who has not guzzled down the social media Kool-Aid, but I do see the application for saving time, building relationships and learning more.

"For any business that says what I'm doing now I'm not satisfied with and I need to look at something different, then this whole social media thing is the other whole dynamic."

Jessica Milcetich is a business reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Reach her at [email protected] or 771-2029.


These little tags are different

ways people can share information and network online. Here's a quick description of each of them and how they can help streamline your work at the office.

Del.icio.us: This is a social bookmarking Web site that lets you store all of your favorite pages online. It's great for people who move between computers throughout the day or from home to office. Unlike a regular favorites list, del.icio.us is Web-based and isn't tied to a specific computer.

Digg: If you're looking to find the most popular stories of the day, as determined by users throughout the world, Digg is where you want to go. Stories are listed in terms of most popular. The more people who "digg" a story, the higher it will appear on the site.

Facebook: This is a social-networking Web site where users build profiles, accumulate friends and post links or Web sites of interest.

Google: Similar to del.icio.us and Yahoo, Google offers an online bookmarking tool.

Reddit: Reddit will recommend stories to you that you might not have found on your own based on your votes for stories you like and dislike.

RSS feeds: These feeds provide a list of stories published most recently on your favorite Web sites. They require a reader, like Google Reader or Bloglines. These applications scan all the RSS feeds and let you know when one of your frequented Web sites is updated. This saves you the time of going to all your different sites during the day to check for updates.

YahooMyWeb: This tool lets you not only bookmark links to pages, but also actual copies of those pages. Like del.icio.us, it's not tied to one computer.


If you're starting a Twitter account, here are some users you can start following.

York Daily Record/Sunday News: twitter.com/ydrcom

York Daily Record business blog: twitter.com/bizblog

Comcast: twitter.com/comcastcares

Dell: twitter.com/delloutlet

MORE WAYS TO FIND US Looking to bring the York Daily Record/Sunday News to you?

--Be our fan on Facebook

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--Get the latest news in your e-mail

--Subscribe to RSS feeds of our news stories

--Get us on your mobile phone

--Read the "Mind Your Own Business" blog


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Copyright (c) 2008, York Daily Record, Pa.

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