I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

The Social Media Education of Joanne, Part Three; Twitter

Homepage of Twitter

Homepage of Twitter

I started this series to help my partner Joanne get up to speed on social media trends.  But true to form, she no longer needs my help.  She’s already moving ahead of me.  But I now have a small readership looking for Part Three, so here goes.

At the start of this series, I knew someone else had to have done this exact same tutorial thing.  Maria Thurrell tells me it’s Chris Brogan.  In fact, if you want to skip right over my blog and just go to http://www.chrisbrogan.com, you’ll be getting an expert and well-written social media education for business people.  That is what he does seemingly 24 hours a day.

As an aside, one of the very best things about this whole social media world is it is so gosh darned friendly.  Joanne came back from a recent PodCamp making that exact observation.  People in social media act like old-fashioned evangelists.  They love this stuff, recognize that their own experience is better when participation broadens, and they behave like helpful sherpas in schooling the curious ingenue.

But if you are still reading, I link below to Chris’ recent post on Twitter.  I saved you the time of trawling his somewhat overwhelming content. This Twitter post of his is not strictly for beginners, so here is my own commentary to orient you.

Twitter takes an open mind and a bit of effort.  It’s microblogging.  One of the investors in Twitter recently told me that in his whole portfolio, it is the single most controversial company.  He said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.  I can’t believe how people go out of their way to tell me how much they love or hate Twitter.  I wish I got this kind of feedback on all my portfolio companies.”

Here’s the deal: You sign up on Twitter to follow and be followed by other people.  (There about 1M people registered, last I heard.) You are limited to 140 characters for each post and you are basically broadcasting tiny thoughts throughout the day.  The experience looks odd from the outside, and even from the inside.  To make it work you start “following” other people on Twitter, and they follow you.  So I only see posts from those folks, and vice versa.  You might know them in the real world, but probably not.  Yet, you learn what they ate for lunch, their moods, but also hear breaking news before anyone else, and see interesting debates unfold and expand real-time.

I know, I know.  You are thinking what I first thought.  Who has time for this?  They must all be losers.  Well, sorta, kinda, but not really.  I admit I am even a little surprised today, on a Sunday of Labor Day weekend, to see people posting minute by minute.  But I have to acknowledge that these people are not 37 year old guys living in their mom’s basements.  They are pretty serious-minded, active, and successful.  They have kids, and lives, and their own businesses.

So, if you want any social media knowledge base at all, you really have to try it out.  Keep at it for a few days, and then you can credibly make fun of it, or become an addict.

It takes just a couple minutes to register. For me, it is an all or nothing experience.  I have days when I watch the stream of “Tweets” fairly regularly, and others where I am not at all involved.  I haven’t quite cracked it as an essential daily tool. But you can follow me through these screen names:  @julespieri and @dailygrommet.  Here’s why I have two screen names.  When we release Daily Grommet, we will use the @dailygrommet name to announce our Grommets and let people know how the Grommets are doing.  I currently use @julespieri (and will, on our site) as more of a daily commentary on my thoughts and doings.  So sign up, see who I am following (as @julespieri) and consider picking up a few of them to follow yourself.  You’ll be surprised and delighted that most of them will follow you back. (The average Twitter user follows and is followed by about 45 people.  Twitter maniacs can have a few thousand followers)

Here’s one way I tried Twitter to help me with a small problem.  Last week I’d gone to a small bar in Somerville to hear some music.  I never noticed the name of the musicians as we entered (my friend Vinit picked the venue) and after listening to the music, enjoying it, but perhaps a little foggy from a couple beers (Allagash White, my fave), I forgot to note the singer’s name.  So I posted to Twitter first thing in the AM.  “Who was at Attwood’s last night, and knows who the band was?’  I hoped for a helpful answer but got nada.  Two reasons:  I posted at 6:30 AM (after the club closed around 1), so no one else was likely up and monitoring Twitter (duh!)–my query fell like that proverbial tree in the forest with no one to hear it.  And,  I misspelled Atwood’s so anyone searching for that term (like people wanting to talk about the night before–you can search all of Twitter) would not have found my post.  So beginner error, but it wouldn’t stop me from trying again, with better spelling and common sense about the time of my Tweet.  (The singer was Peter Mulvey, btw.  Posting the same thing on Facebook got me my answer. YAY!)

Here, anyway, here are Chris’s more advanced recommendations, which go way beyond this post to make anyone who reads it a brand new Twitter armchair expert:

50 Ideas for using Twitter for business

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