Cafe Witness

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

5 Ways Twitter Changes PR

If you haven't heard, Twitter is disrupting email, blogging and all other forms of traditional information exchange?


Immediacy AND personality.

Thus, if you have a message / product / experience to share, keep in mind these 5 Ways Twitter Changes PR:

1. The (Immediately Actionable) Trusted Referrals of Friends

As Mobasoft's Michael Bailey twittered yesterday:

My personal habit of Twitter link click-thru is probably 90% - on other web-sites it's more like 2%. Links from people I follow rank higher.

But here's the catch: Michael (like most of us) isn't clicking through links his Twitter friends are sharing because their ad copy is compelling, or because their logo or ad campaign were designed by a major PR player -- he's clicking through because of POSITIVE WORD OF MOUTH... which the destinations behind those links have NO (direct) control over.

2. The Power of @

Twitter is designed to enable conversations. To respond to someone else's tweet, a user addresses the original speaker by placing an "@" in front of the speaker's twitter handle -- for example, @mobasoft -- followed by their response.

Thanks to Twitter's design, including that @ symbol makes the speaker's Twitter handle a clickable link, leading any other curious users back to the speaker's Twitter profile. There, a user can see all of the speaker's recent tweets. This is useful for discerning what comment may have led to the response in question, but it's also allows a casual observer to see a snapshot of exactly what the speaker is all about.

The more interesting YOU are on Twitter, and the more conversations you can instigate through compelling questions / comments, the more inbound opportunities innocent bystanders will have to stumble across who YOU are and what YOU'RE all about.

3. Brevity is King

Every update (or "tweet") a Twitter user posts is limited 140 characters. This forces EVERYONE to think like a copywriter: how can you be descriptive, witty AND compelling within the constraints of the 140 character limit?

Twitter is teaching a whole generation the basics of Strunk & White's Elements of Style, entirely by accident. Good twitterers (tweeters?) quickly realize that adjectives, adverbs and adjunct clauses are expendable. What matters is the MEAT of the tweet.

4. Your Responses Matter as Much as the Questions

The more Twitter contacts you have, the faster the tweets scroll up your page. Blink and you'll miss something.

But the more interesting a question or comment, the more likely people will continue talking about it. This keeps the original link or "thread" alive long enough for you to stumble across it in its third or fourth iteration (if you missed it the first time around).

Thus, the longer a subject is "bumped" up the tweetstream, the more likely it is to be seen by not only its intended audience (the speaker's), but by others as well (every responder's, who may not have been on the original speaker's list). But what keeps a subject "alive"?

Part of it is the nature of the subject / comment / question in the first place -- and part of it is how compelling YOUR response is. I can't tell you how many tweets I've clicked through based solely upon a somewhat cryptic, emotionally charged or patently hysterical response to someone ELSE'S original tweet. Because the responder did such a great job at creating a compelling response, I became engaged in conversations I would otherwise never have followed -- and learned information I would have completely missed out on.

5. Twitter Is Not a Laundry List

Very often, I receive notifications that "so-and-so" is following me on Twitter. I'll then click through their name to see who they are. If they're interesting, I may "follow" them back, because I like a good conversation. By clicking on their name, I can see all their recent tweets and decide for myself whether I think their sum total of twit-friendly conversations is interesting enough for me to want to keep an eye on.

On the other hand, I'll sometimes click through and find that "so-and-so" is actually just an automated RSS feed, or an aggregator, or a PR stunt by some clueless company -- and I'll ignore them.

Why? Because I'm not on Twitter to be spammed -- I'm here to have interesting, bite-sized conversations. And a laundry list of your blog posts is not a conversation.

Open letter to companies intending to assign an employee to "seed" company information on Twitter: please enable that person to actually BE a person. Encourage him or her to post tweets about the job, the office, or what was interesting on YouTube during today's lunch break. Their JOB might be to promote the company, but the WAY to promote the company involves adapting the message to the medium.

On Twitter, if you're not a human being -- with opinions, flaws and friends -- you don't stand a chance.

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  • Well said. I am reading this because of your twitter. :)

    By Anonymous Justine, at 12:31 PM  

  • Great post with lots of insight. One of the things I like about Twitter is that it's easy to watch and pick up the simple "rules" to play. Unlike so many other social playgrounds up there, there's no learning curve. Be interesting. Add value to the conversation. Give to take. It's a human place, not a geek place.

    By Anonymous Tim Siedell, at 12:39 PM  

  • Hear, hear...@justine me2..

    By Blogger Adam Jochum, at 1:46 PM  

  • cool - I made it here because of a Google alert I had set. See ya'll in a few weeks.

    By Anonymous Michael Bailey, at 5:26 PM  

  • I must have missed the tweet about this post because I am just checking in on Justin's blog. But I first learned about twitter on this same blog. Interesting how things come full circle.

    By Blogger Norm, at 3:35 PM  

  • I'm still addicted to Twitter after all this time. I love it.

    By Anonymous Clintus McGintus, at 6:59 PM  

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