I’m involved in a project to share twitter as a business tool with a skeptical audience via the trade press at the moment. It is insightful.
I’ve been thinking about the reactions some people have when I tell them I use twitter.
Really? I’d have thought you’d be too busy.
You’ve got how many followers? WOW (the number of followers I have tends to be the only thing of interest, with the exception of ‘can you show me…?’)
Do you know any of these people, you know, In Real Life?
I particularly like the ‘IRL’ question because it points out the dilemma those of us in construction have with introducing any kind of social tool to the industry.
The problem is, that according to those who don’t use ‘Web 2.0’ or ‘Social Media’, they aren’t ‘Real Life’ and are separate from it. For example:
- People you know in the real world don’t use twitter.
- People you know on twitter aren’t real.
- Because you haven’t met people In Real Life then your relationship with them is tenuous, dangerous and meaningless.
What’s wrong with that then?
Firstly, the people who use twitter are not losers, or unemployed, or ‘homeworkers’ (although some of them are) they are just like you. Some of them are windowcleaners, double glazing salesmen, structural engineers, plasterers, hoteliers, artisan foodmakers, property developers, couriers, CEO’s, roofers, lecturers, economists, architects, the list goes on.
Secondly these people have lives outside of twitter which extend to other networks that have nothing to do with twitter. And this is why it is useful.
People ring me up and say ‘could you write an article about finding an architect?’ and I say ‘where did you hear about me’ and they don’t say ‘I saw you on twitter’. They say ‘oh, someone in the office was talking about it and they’d been to a conference and …’
Yes, twitter really is real life. It isn’t everything (its not everything I do either) but it is useful.
Pedro Stephano says
Now that put’s twitter into perspective – as an integral part of the mesh that we now live in. The social mesh. It might not be the only, but twitter is my favourite network.
I love twitter and have been using it personally and professionally (I’m an interim HR/Recruitment Manager) for over 3 years.
It’s a way to link my IRL and virtual contacts, make new friends/contact and links that relate to me, my work, my hobbies and my social life.
And best of all, today I’m off to the wedding of my friends (met through twitter) Tom and Aly, who met via twitter and are getting married.
Hi Nicola, have a great day!
Twitter is a very useful network for making new contacts and keeping in touch with existing ones swiftly (and unobtrusively).
Thanks for commenting.
I feel it is an exceptionally good tool for business – far better way to offer customer service than cold websites – feels more person.
Oh, and the ‘in real life’ issue. Have met a couple of people I talk to on twitter in real life but also co-written an article about twitter & business with a fellow twitterer. He lives in another country, we have never met or spoken on the phone but used the collaboration of twitter to write something together.
This is really important – because twitter can cross geographical boundaries, it can get one out of one’s local silo into a much wider world.
I manage a practice of architects and I don’t have trouble finding architects to talk to – but other managers, especially those developing business development strategies for large practices? They are few and far between.
Twitter has helped me find mentors and peers in the US and elsewhere in the UK who have been doing what I do for many more years. I have learned so much from them.
glynis powell says
Su, being a museum development officer (MDO) is probably not very ‘real life’ for many (pretty dreamy for me!), but perhaps museums might be seen as a bit old fashioned and staid to some people -yet there is an enormous community of people (as you probably know) from museums who also use Twitter… from tiny voluntary led museums (like @stagnesturtle) to large international ones. Twitter is used as a marketing tool to visitors, a way of involving the general public in curating, commenting and changing the displays but it is also an amazing academic/professional network where those behind the scenes can talk, share and learn from each other – something we can#t always afford to do in the ‘other’ real life… good luck
Thanks for introducing us to @snaglesturtle Glynis, what a great idea for a twitter account!
I’m always using twitter to check out venues and organisations. An engaging, helpful twitter account gives me a really warm feeling about the organisation. I feel I’ll be looked after there. If I have any questions I can tweet them over, particularly important when you have dependants to think about.
And behind this really useful facade is another layer of usefulness.
In the construction industry I’m often told ‘architects don’t talk to each other on twitter about specifying construction products’.
What they don’t realise is that architects talk to each other about these things all the time. If they are on twitter they’ll be doing it. You might not see it, they might be using DMs (private messages) but because it is such a convenient, instant medium, asking questions is a no-brainer.
Thanks for pointing out two very important, different layers of twitter in your community Glynis.
Bridie Jenner says
Well, I live with a guy who is always moaning about my use of twitter.
My husband just doesn’t understand that it’s an essential part of running a business these days and purely sees it as a time wasting exercise. Even when I point out the amount of work I’ve gained that simply wouldn’t have come my way if it weren’t for social media he STILL doesn’t get it.
Personally, I love twitter and for many reasons. I enjoy the fact I can have real-time conversations with people around the globe and have made many RL friendships because of it.
(I am a little upset at home working being put in the same bracket as “losers”!)
Personally, I never call people losers. But I know that many of the people I attempt to convince about twitter think that all twitter users are losers, hence the use of the name.
Our industry is very conservative and has trouble seeing the value of concepts like remote working, portfolio careers and local entrepreneurship. It is one reason why there are so few qualified women architects.
Hope you’ll forgive me for playing devils advocate Bridie 🙂
Heather Townsend says
I use twitter to ‘meet’ new people and then maintain and strengthen the relationship with them on twitter after meeting them in real life.
When I looked at my pipeline recently 90% of all my new & existing client work came from a relationship which either started on twitter or was someway enhanced by my usage of twitter.
peter travis says
The scepticism amongst those who haven’t used Twitter (and so often haven’t used Facebook either) can prove tough to overcome. Yet sadly it’s they who aren’t living the ‘real life’ in this, the third decade of the digital era.
Few would argue that email hasn’t become mission critical … but for many key target groups social media is now becoming or is already mission critical.
For me twitter has become one of my most useful sources of the very latest marketing ideas and data. I run a marketing consultancy that includes clients who operate within the timber and construction as well as in fmcg, leisure and technology sectors . Uniquely by choosing who to follow I’m usually able to access the latest information and ideas from these markets and about the countries that I want to monitor. It’s invaluable. All the more so, as it comes free of charge!
Also twitter provides me with another vehicle for communicating with clients, former clients and prospective clients who choose to follow me either on one of my twitter accounts and/or elsewhere on social media. One of my largest contracts has come as a result of re-establishing contact with a former client through social networking.
But when it comes to selling a new communications programme that includes social media as a key element then if the corporate decision makers are not personally using social networking … then that’s a really tough sell.
But it’s a battle that has to be fought and won … for the sake of their business … as well as mine!
Sarah Arrow says
Lovely article Su and we have even met in real life 🙂
Alex Parr says
Excellent article Su!
I think Twitter is an amazing business tool to find out information and a way to keep tabs on your business, i.e. what people are saying about you, making new contacts and nipping complaints in the bud. Big companies like Dell are using it for this purpose. For those who are not, I believe that they are missing out on a trick! 🙂
I’m very pleased we have met in real life but interestingly through something that I found out about on Twitter!
Mark Calpin says
Do normal people use Twitter? Absolutely yes.
Cards on the table, I am the General Manager for Holiday Inn Express in Hamilton, a branded product which is run as a franchise. Therefore we have a mixture of the requirements and standards that the brand has for maintaining consistency, coupled with a desire to make my hotel unique and personal in a busy marketplace, and for that social media fits the bill, with Twitter just the ticket for ad hoc communication to portray a variety of messages. I can send out messages, written by myself, to portray the hotel in the exact way I wish to, highlighting the benefits of my property and the reasons that I believe people should choose us.
Social media can be simply viewed as a different way of communicating with people, not some dark, geeky computer based pass-time. If you can, consider how mobile phone users were thought of when they started to become popular in the late 80’s? Initially, many people were sceptical of them, regarding users as flamboyant, arrogant, aggressive business folk, who were not interested in others, just in making money quick. Nowadays, almost everyone over the age of 10 has a mobile, with making and receiving phone calls a mere fraction of the facilities that they can do. Hotels open their doors each day, not knowing who will walk through, and in many ways your tweets are like that – you don’t know who will pick up on them.
The approach that I take to Twitter is that it provides me with the ability to engage and communicate with a wide variety of people – this audience contains current customers, potential customers, friends that have been known for a while, and friendships that are being built. Lastly there is the unknown audience of the rest of the world, whom I don’t know, and who may or may not see my communications.
Naturally all communications have to adhere to professional standards, nothing new there, but, if your messages strike the right tone, you can build up a dialogue with people in a quick space of time, as a lot of the barriers to getting to know people are removed, or lowered, due to the nature of not physically meeting or hearing the person.
With the various software tools on Twitter, you are able to stretch the 140 character limit, although not encouraged to do so frequently, attach photos, add hyperlinks and lots else. In this way, you aren’t limited in the type of message or style of message that you put out. You can augment your tweet with additional relevant information, such as links to favourable online reviews of the hotel, or offer people the chance to buy from the hotel.
If you wish to see what we do, the hotel’s Twitter account is @HIEHamilton.
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post, and in such a considered way.
You’ve very clearly set out the way in which Twitter can help begin and build relationships between complete strangers, to mutual advantage.
Benedikte Ranum says
Great article, Su, and an excellent comment from Mark Calpin above (which mirrors closely our own view of Twitter at ESI). Am now following @HIEHamilton and look forward to seeing your tweets, Mark.
Just a brief observation: the whole concept of ‘IRL’ is flawed. An example:
A friend of mine has chosen to live on a very small island off the west coast of Scotland. She has other friends who live in busy cities, and occasionally they’ll say things like ‘Oh, it’s all very well for you islanders, but how would you cope out here in the real world?’
Is city life is any more ‘real’ than island life? Is a conversation in a conference room any more ‘real’ than a conversation on Twitter? Of course not.
All the best,
Sara Pearce says
In my opinion it is all about choice and the more choices we give to our customers to engage with us the better, whether that is twitter, website, phone call or even In Real Life! We have only been tweeting for a very small amount of time and during this time it has not only given us an opportunity to talk to people we may not have otherwise, yourself included(!) but also to be excited by all the amazing projects/products/events that people all over the world are participating in which can inspire us to constantly improve our products and services.
peter travis says
Can all so easily become a bit too real …. http://wallblog.co.uk/2011/06/16/pr-agency-loses-biggest-account-with-a-single-tweet/
Thanks for sharing that Peter, very good example of how important it is to get your activities on twitter aligned with your other activities online and off.
A good lesson!
digital marketing london says
Great article!!! Twitter is just another social networking platform to share our every right, likes, dislikes and whatever we think. making new contacts friends and to some extent making real life friends. But, no way it could be larger than our lives. We have to prioritize our lives 1st and then other social things …