Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Friday, 24 April 2009
Using Twitter - A personal account by a CEO who explains how she evolved
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Now Playing: Using Twitter and the journey to see the functionality
Topic: MEDIA

Hello Z3er's Check this story of the learnining curve of one person using Twitter to make shit happen. The Key line she mentions that I just loved is highlighted in red in the article below from Forbes .com 

~joe ...PS Z3 Readers... you can check out my Twitter Pages right here

Yes, I'm A CEO Who Really Uses Twitter

Diane Hessan, 04.22.09, 05:30 PM EDT


Here's how I got into it and what I get out of it.

Diane Hessan

Last fall, when I met Laura Fitton (Twitter name @pistachio) at a conference, I heard that she was the Queen of Twitter. So I asked her, "Do you really have time to get online and find out which of your friends is in the bathroom?" She persuaded me that Twitter was the real deal, so I invited her to come to Communispace, my company (which builds online customer communities), and present to our staff about the Twitter phenomenon.

Two weeks later, Laura introduced us all to the world of hashtags (Twitter keywords preceded by a #) and DMs and @s and RTs (you can look them up). I learned that a follower didn't have to be as close as a Facebook friend, that Barack Obama had the most followers of anyone, and that if I wanted to witness a company doing a good job with Twitter, I should check out Starbucks ( SBUX - news - people ).

Frankly, it was all mystifying. But clients were starting to ask me if they should be Twittering, or if their online communities should be. I just didn't know the answer. It was time to experiment.

It has now been six months, and I have found Twitter to be more valuable and more fun than just about any of my other social media adventures. However, it didn't happen immediately. Here's my experience:

Phase One: Loneliness. In the beginning, I read countless articles about how Twitter would be a vehicle for learning, connecting, business-building, friend-making, insight-sharing and more, but it wasn't any of that for me. I followed a few courageous work colleagues, and they followed me back, but most of the time my fascinating 140-character tweets seemed to disappear into the ether, to be read by no one. I asked a provocative question and nobody responded, except for maybe @pistachio. I said something interesting, and only my colleague Debi (@drkleiman) acknowledged it. I tried reading @jimmyfallon to see how he was planning for his show, but hearing about it in short bursts seemed a waste of time. Maybe I was just too old.

Phase Two: Finding Some Killer Apps. At the end of November, I had two bona fide Twitter moments. The first: I needed help from Comcast ( CMCSA - news - people ) about my home Internet hook-up and couldn't get an appointment for two weeks. I turned to @comcastcares and suddenly was connected to Comcast Executive Service and an obsequious representative who apologized--and who had a service person at my condo the next day.

The second: During the attacks in Mumbai, I logged on to search.twitter.com, searched via "#mumbai" and was captivated by a continuous stream of tweets from people who were right there in the streets of a city under siege. I had CNN on at the time, but my Twitter feed was at least 10 minutes ahead of CNN. I knew Twitter, and I was powerful! Maybe no one wanted to read my tweets, but I was part of a community of people who were faster and hipper and more in the know than everyone else.

Phase Three: Learning. Since Communispace's job is to help companies listen to their customers, I decided to practice what we preach and just listen to what people were saying in the Twitterverse. I went to MrTweet, a service for making Twitter connections, and found scores of fascinating people to follow: marketers, social media experts, professors, journalists, scientists, politicians and even professional baseball players (@nickswisher, although he's on the wrong team). I followed those people, and, amazingly, most of them followed me back. This was getting more interesting.

I started to become aware of who had new ideas (@stevebaker), who was inspiring (@skap5), who made me laugh (@OhowFUN), who was provocative (@amandachapel), who listened hard to what I had to say (@nejsnave), who was making me a better CEO (@zappos), who was helping me understand the field (@jowyang) and who just wrote links to his own news articles but wasn't really there (@andersoncooper). I made new friends (@womenkind), learned more about a smart client (@bestbuycmo) and found research to quote (@joelrubinson).

Eventually when I asked questions someone from my growing group of followers would actually respond. During this time, @rhappe even helped me organize a TweetUp (an event where you get to meet your Twitter friends in person and see how much older they look than their photos) at Communispace. We hugged and drank beer, and we celebrated the beginning of baseball spring training.

Phase Four: Getting Organized. At the TweetUp, I learned about Tweetdeck, an application that would help me classify my Twitter friends into different categories: people I work with, people in my industry, people whose opinions I respect and so on. Tweetdeck also helped me be more responsive, because it notified me when people were responding to my ideas or sending my tweets along to others. It allowed me to move faster, to have a better filter and to structure what had before been unstructured information.

Once organized, I had time to ask others whom they followed, and I had a way to add more followers without feeling overwhelmed. It also allowed me to put faces to the Twittersphere. When someone described Twitter as "one big focus group," I wrote, "For those of U who think Twitter's a focus group, have you ever BEEN 2 a good one?" and my entire column of market-research friends tweeted that they agreed that the focus group analogy was a bit of a stretch.

Phase Five: Value! Well, it's six months later, and I'm sold. Having invested the time to learn about the Twitter community, I now have 2,500 followers. Twitter has brought me new ideas and new friends, and it has connected us to a world of people who are trying to be adventurous and innovative. I have gotten free consulting, new clients, new alliance partners, lots of PR and a vehicle for getting our insights out into the marketplace. Most recently, for instance, when Communispace launched its new blog, Verbatim, I sent a tweet out about it, and more than 1,000 people responded by checking it out. Some 40% of our blog visits have come from Twitter links.

The lesson? As with anything else, just dabbling is a less time-consuming but often fruitless approach. I dabble in Facebook, but my daughters, who have thousands of Facebook friends, can't live without that social network. They use it for the business of life--e-mailing, setting up events, sharing news--and it's of much more value to them than it is to me, because I haven't really spent the time. That's what I learned from my Twitter experiment. What once felt like a useless exercise has become a highly leveraged tool for me and for our company. If you need help in your own journey, send me a DM, or find me at @communispaceceo.


comments (8)

Diane Hessan is the chief executive officer of Communispace Corp., which helps brands get insight into customers via online communities.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:33 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 27 April 2009 7:59 PM PDT

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