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Tweeting Isn't Just for Birds

Tweeting Isn't Just for Birds

Matt Whipp | Printweek

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo, Linkedln, YouTube – how many of these inescapable social media platforms have you signed up to? One or two, perhaps? Unfortunately, this is simply not good enough. Because far from being the waste of time you perhaps berate your staff or your teenage children for perusing endlessly, social networks are actually an innovative way of bringing benefits to you and your business. Online social networks are not just the preserve of teenagers and hip elders trying to keep their ear to the ground. Facebook, for example, says it has more than 250m users worldwide from a broad age range, while Linkedln claims 40m professionals have signed up to its platform. Social media has gone beyond the niche and is now fully embedded in the mainstream. Put all the users together and, clearly, it is a significant resource to be tapped into.

People use social networks to discuss anything and everything and these users and their conversations are searchable. Bernhard Warner, director at Custom Communication and social media consultant for Radar DDB UK, explains: “These used to be conversations by the water cooler. Now that they’re online, they’re archiveable and you can count it.”

So all of the blog posts, comments, tweets, ratings, diggs, recommendations, video rants – they can be aggregated through a search to offer a real-time insight into a given subject. Whether you’re trying to score wins in the form of new business, brand building or simply identifying trends, social networks are an incredibly powerful tool. The difficult bit is that you have to comply with the culture and terms of the community.

“It’s a big change for companies that are used to traditional marketing methods,” says Warner “Traditionally, they’ve been in charge of the message. The new rule is you either engage with the public or you don’t have a public.”

The simplest way to benefit from social networks is to use them to place a finger on the pulse of your industry by following the conversations of others. One of the great things about Twitter is searching tweets on a particular subject.

For example, a search of tweets on ‘transpromo’ turns up messages from lots of people going to the Transpromo Summit, so instantly you have an idea of who ‘s going and what the main talking points will be. The messages it picks up are also ’live’ in the sense that they are being tweeted as and when you search. Do the same search on Google or a similar search engine and you would not get such an insight as there is so much more information for it to sort through and results from years ago could be dragged up that are not in the least bit relevant.

Another platform proving itself useful to business is Linkedln. Steve Emerson, partner at Turning Point Integration, uses it extensively.

He says: “From a sales perspective, just finding the name of a person is enough. But we also use it for disseminating product information, or when we have vacancies, we use it for that.”

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