Friday, August 10, 2012

Twitter Isn't Just for the Birds

twitter isn't just for the birds
When Scott Berkun took the stage for his keynote address at the 2012 Summit, the first thing he asked was “How many people have never used Twitter?” and half the audience raised their hand. 

Now, I think it's your choice whether you want to use Twitter—I'm not here to force you to do something you don't want to do—but as technical communicators, it's our job to remain relevant and stay up-to-speed with the latest and emerging technologies. Why wouldn't you want to give one of the most powerful information-sharing networks a chance?

As a technical writer, I user Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, blog posts, and news in the industry. As a travel blogger, I receive updates from some of my favorite destinations and travel brands. As a news junkie, I follow most news networks who alert me of breaking news the moment it happens. Twitter is my go-to resource for just about anything—here are a few examples:

Twitter is fast

I was about to board a plane in Seattle headed to Chicago when Delta canceled my flight. They immediately emailed me my new flight information, which departed 10 hours later. Not only was that a terrible inconvenience, but I knew there were earlier flights I could get on. As I stood in line at the ticket counter, I took to Twitter:

Adam: @DeltaAssist rescheduled my flight for 10 hrs later without asking. Very inconvenient. Trying to get an earlier flight.
Delta: @AdamEvans send us your flight number and we’ll see what we can do.

I sent my info, and voilĂ . Before I even reached the front of the line, Delta rescheduled me on an earlier flight and notified me via direct message. I love Twitter.

Twitter saves money

When American Airlines tweeted they were having a 24-hour Twitter sale on flights to Hawaii, I pounced. What’s normally an $800+ flight was over 50% off, so between that discount and my airline miles, my wife and I went to Maui for less than $400. Have I mentioned that I love Twitter?

Twitter gives you access

You may not care about this as much as I do, but I've had several Twitter encounters with "celebrities". Namely, Kirstie Alley, Sherri Shepherd, Bethenny Frankel, and Kathy Griffin. Not A-list celebs by any stretch of the imagination, but known names (maybe). Most encounters occurred after I congratulated them for an achievement—except I said something fairly mean-spirited to Kirstie once and she blocked me. Oops. The point is, Twitter puts you in contact with people and brands you admire and care about.

Practical Application

Twitter isn’t just all fun and games though. It has real business value that many companies are monetizing. Consumers are talking about brands, and companies can no longer control the conversation through traditional marketing measures. We—companies, marketers, writers—have to learn to contribute and monitor the conversation, allowing customers to express themselves, coming alongside to support and assist when necessary.

At STC Chicago, that’s exactly what we're trying to do. As the newly-minted chapter PR Manager, I’ve been overseeing the STC Chicago Twitter account for the past several months. Summit 2012 was the first real chance the chapter had to interact with users in a dynamic way. I intended to use Twitter to:
·         engage attendees,
·         answer questions about the Summit or Chicago, and
·         share attendees' blog posts and comments.

We were having great interactions with Summer goers, and then late Sunday night, Karen Mardahl tweeted to STC Chicago:

This certainly wasn’t what I expected, but when you open yourself up to questions and feedback, you’re often surprised at what you receive. Helping was a no-brainer. I was in the city when I received this message, so I simply stopped at Walgreens, picked up an ankle brace, and trained back to the Summit. All the while I responded privately to the individual who needed a brace to let her know help was on the way.

We met up and I delivered the brace. After the conference, I followed up to make sure everything was OK. She responded:

And that, my friends, is the power of Twitter. In many cases, it’s the most efficient way of communication. It not only allows users to access people otherwise out of reach, but it also gives business and organizations the chance to meet (and exceed) customer expectations. So, if you’ve never given Twitter a try, consider creating an account and taking it for a spin. There are plenty of resources out there to help you along the way, like this, and this, and this. And one of my favorite recommendations for new users is to take a 30-day challenge like this guy did.

Twitter isn’t just for the birds. It’s for anyone who wants to learn, remain relevant, and experience the expanding power of social media. 

This article was originally published in the August 2012 issue of the STC Chicago Byline


  1. Thanx for sharing these useful tricks about traveling...
    keep sharing this precious knowledge...
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