In a previous Huffington Post blog, "LinkedIn -- The Gateway Drug to Social Media For Financial Services and Others," I discussed how LinkedIn serves as a "gateway" drug of sorts for those reluctant about where to enter social media marketing. I think that the "gateway drug" theory has direct application to the world of social media. The gateway drug theory hypothesizes that recreational drugs, like marijuana, which are easier to access and less detrimental to health, usually lead to harder and more serious drugs. Comfort and familiarity with one social media platform can and should lead to "riskier" behavior. Mastering LinkedIn will lead to Twitter addiction. Let's look at how easy that progression to the "harder stuff" might be.
Twitter's user interface looks very much like the old AP/UPI newswire with a variety of real-time news feeds displaying stories one after another. Even reading real-time tweets can be addicting, especially if you are a news junkie like me. Unlike the"old school" AP/UPI newswire which would end-up as a huge pile of continuous form paper on the floor, Twitter's search function allows instant access to content on any specific topic via keyword search. The list function allows you to break up your followers by categories.
Who supplies the content feed on Twitter? Millions of global tweeters are posting links to news stories, blogs, photos and more. For example, its easy and fun to follow an event on Twitter like the Academy Awards by reading the real-time commentary, reviewing the photos without turning on your television. What's more is that you can do it from your mobile phone and without commercials. Addicting...
As for the history of its name, Twittter founder Jack Dorsey said, "...we came across the word 'twitter' and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds.' In part, I think that Twitter's users soared based on the popularity of texting. Texting is the same commmunication between two users, whereas tweeting can amplify content to to millions. It's a huge force multipler. One might even argue that its even riskier NOT to use Twitter due to its huge reach and low-cost.
What is Twitter? Its a free social networking website which allows registered users to set-up profiles and send/receive messages called "tweets." Tweets are a maximum length of 140 characters which are displayed. It forces the most verbose to become "clever" at constructing tweets with compelling headlines which encourage others to engagement with your content posts. There are third-party applications like bit.ly which will take long URL strings and shorten them for tweeting purposes.
To maximize its effect, best practices include aggregating and sharing content to gain followers by engaging around topics of shared interest. As an example, my own followers know that I produce and share content around my niche of high net worth (wealth) marketing, financial services and traditional/social media topics.
Typical social media marketing tweets may be news/commentary, links to your blog and other's blogs, and much more. Depending on the number of people you are following and their Twitter output, there may be hundreds/thousands of tweets in your twitter stream each day. Just like the newswire, you can go back and review the tweets in total or sort them by user or a even by a specific hashtag (#) designation. When "tweeps" want to highlight their material by subject and optimize search engine optimization or SEO, they may add a hashtag to it like #wealthmanagers or #HNW (high net worth) to highlight the content.
Like a drug pusher, I am hoping that this article and others will lead to greater consumption and lead to other more addictive behavior like "retweeting." Retweeting is the process by which content is shared. You may see some interesting content in someone else's twitter stream and forward it or "retweeted" it to your own followers. That is known as RT or retweeting. This leads to others seeing your content, and following you and so on and so on...just like the classic Fabrege Shampoo commercials from the 1970's. Here the premise was the the shampoo was so good that you would tell two friends and they would tell two friends, and so on and so on. Word of mouth marketing is amplified and a true force multiplier on the Twitter platform. You can tell one person and, then potentially, millions can know.
Making the case for Twitter addiction is easy. News sites encourage sharing their content via Twitter widgets. With the click of a mouse, you can immediately post a link and share content to your feed onto the Twitter platform. Most Twitter addicts will cull information from the Internet, add some of their own relevant personal reading, and sprinkle in some tweets from others that they may be following. Finally, they may add some of their own content through blog feeds. This leads to a Twitter stream which is curated from a variety of sources and uniquely constructed.
My counsel to clients is to stay as niche-y as possible when gathering content. This way your own Twitter feed will be a source for all things related to your specific topics. Remember, Twitter is not a game (although it has a silly name.) Its a serious and powerful tool to drive targeted messages thereby creating visibility to yourself and your firm. The content that you post will lead others to recognize you and your personal brand. This should lead to engagement, client acquisition, sales and drive revenue. I can personally testify to the force amplifier that Twitter has been to me own business and personal branding. Get addicted!
Twitter is very handy via the mobile application. This is intensely addicting for me. When I need a "hit," I like to grab my phone and check my Twitter feed multiple times a day -- whether in a taxi, as a diversion or during any type of downtime or even mid-crisis to follow a breaking news story. Today, many business conferences and workshops will establish a #hashtag for their event attendees will "report" or tweet out soundbites in real-time. This allows your followers to virtually attend by following the hashtag for that event. The "Fabrege" effect works in real-time as you retweet important content, which is retweeted by others and so on and so on...
Hard-core tweeps (Twitter+peeps) embrace their addiction and use third-party apps such as TweetDeck, Hootsuite, StockTwits and many other platforms to amplify their messages more easily and quickly. It is even possible to schedule tweets for even greater efficiency.
WARNING: Further reading may cause addiction.
Consider the following Twitter statistics. At a press conference in 2011, Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, revealed the latest numbers for Twitter:
I hope that I have made the case for the power of social media marketing beginning with LinkedIn and progressing to Twitter. As advocate (and pusher) of these new marketing tools, I guess you could say that early adopters feel a bit they are like attending Woodstock before its impact was well-known. To those who dismiss Twitter, Facebook, other social media platforms and even the Internet as being fads or for teens, I can only repeat that it seems like riskier behavior to eschew social media platforms and their importance. Come on take a puff and then move on to inhaling.
Follow April Rudin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheRudinGroup