My Twitter Experiment

All those who know me, know that I don't jump quickly to the latest and greatest Internet gadgets. This is not to say I am slow to adopt good ideas, I just need someone to show me the practical side of it for business. And this has brought me to my Twitter experiment.

If you have never heard of Twitter (www.twitter.com), you are not alone. Yet this simple tool is quickly gaining a foothold among teenagers, socially active technos and most top-end bloggers. For those who don't know what it is here is the simplest definition. It is a micro blogging tool which limits your posts to a mere 140 Characters. As with any social networking tool, people follow your Twitter posts (Tweets) and you can reciprocate by following their posts. My reluctance to Twitter was more of what did I have to Tweet about and who would want to follow my Tweets.

Two weeks ago I was in the UK at a conference and several people asked me what my Twitter ID was to which I had to answer "I don't tweet". I was greeted with a look of disappointment. So upon my return to Toronto, I quickly set-up my Twitter account (@aknecht - http://twitter.com/aknecht/) and started my experiment. Here's how the experiment went.

Step 1 - I linked my Twitter updates to my Facebook profile status (Friday)

Step 2 - I added Twitterberry to my BlackBerry for easy updates (Sunday)

Step 3 - I started to follow a couple of people related to the PubCon Conference I was about to attend

Step 4 - I started to Tweet (Sunday)

These simple actions soon proved to be very valuable. Before I knew several people (Facebook Friends) were following my Tweets. From this several people attending PubCon found me and started following my Tweets. For the experiment, I committed myself to Tweeting as often as possible.

Twitter Experiment Results

By the time I landed in Las Vegas (Monday afternoon) I quickly discovered that all PubCon related announcements were no longer going to out by email, but by Tweets (at least I had that covered). Next I started to see people Tweeting about dinner and where to go and where to meet. Before I knew it I had dinner plans with someone I had never met or even had contact with before Twitter. We met up (Tweetup) at a restaurant at my hotel and found each other. Of course there was some confusion as someone else who was going to join us who had simply described himself as bald with glasses (gee that could be me). Once we got that settled the three of us had dinner and a great conversation.

PubCon started the next day and the conference almost crashed Twitter. Everyone was Tweeting (at least 90% of all attendees -including myself) what sessions they were attending, issue during the session etc. By the end of the first day of PubCon, I must have Tweeted at least 10-15 times. It seemed as with each Tweet I got more followers. What a strange occurrence as just a year earlier at PubCon 2007 almost no-one Tweeted.

By day two, several people came up to me and said they enjoyed following my Tweets in Facebook. That night at the hotel bar, I ran into someone who I wasn't sure would recognize me, but of course he did and said, "Hi Alan, I opened up Facebook today and there you were all over my home page with your tweets." It was a positive response. The only person to voice negative feedback came from my wife, who just thought I was abusing Facebook for business and bragging purposes. I took to the old adage that most negative comments go unsaid so I took my wife's words to heart.

So after a week of Tweeting to my hearts galore, my experiment came to an end. Through this experience I learned a few things.

  • 1. If you're going to Tweet a lot don't hook it up to your Facebook account, but encourage your friends to follow you on Twitter if they want
  • 2. Get a variety of apps loaded up on your computer to help optimize your Twitter experience (my personal favourite right now is TweetDeck)
  • 3. Link your cellphone to Twitter (SMS messaging or through a phone application)
  • 4. Tweek responsibly and they will follow
  • 5. Talk to other Tweeters about Tweet etiquette or read the book "Twitter Revolution" by Deborah Micek & Warren Whitlock (I devoured this book on the flight home from Las Vegas) which contains lots of excellent tips
  • 6. Start Tweeting

The reality is there is no real business model for Twitter right now and who knows if they'll survive long term. For now, I equate the Twitter phenomena at the same state as the web was in the mid 1990's people knew it had potential, but they didn't yet know how to take advantage of it for business. Yes it was in the hands of a few geeks and look what we turned the web into.

For the socially active party goers this is a must have tool. Start following all your friends and have your friends start following you and there will never be the need for a phone call again or at least while you're out party hoping.

Happy Tweeting

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