My articles

Twitter — the 2009 word of the year — and what it means

I originally posted a version of this article last week on the Weber Shandwick Social Studies Blog.

Last week, the Global Language Monitor announced “twitter” was the top word of 2009.

We have seen the good side of Twitter (NOTE: Weber Shandwick helped promote Tweetsgiving) along with the not-so-good. We have seen Twitter used by news organizations and companies both large and small:

The fact “Twitter” topped this year’s list should come as no surprise, but the word’s definition, as cited in the release, may make you think. It is simply this:

“The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters.”

Nowhere in this definition will you find the term “Web site,” or the word “platform.” Twitter is not, nor has it ever been, solely about the service. A tweet can happen anywhere, whether it’s on Twitter — the platform it was designed for — or as a status update on Facebook, or even as a short blog entry on Posterous.

According to the GLM Web site, the survey’s methodology uses an algorithm that tracks words used by the media and others across the Web. No longer do people need blogs to become digital publishers; sign up on Twitter and you’re ready to go.

There’s a reason Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of users, changed its approach to reflect Twitter, with a user base of only several million users: Facebook saw the value of the micro-interaction and elevated it into a central role on its platform.

Twitter, in and of itself, has opened up an even more hyperconnected world, but the Twitter-type interaction — the micro-interaction — often leads to something deeper. Something that happens outside of the platform, whether it’s an e-mail or a phone call.

Weber Shandwick advises clients not to start or run a Twitter account with the end goal of just having one, but to leverage everything they’re doing — their product launches, their promotions, their ideas and their expertise, and their customer-driven insights — and work with them to somehow fit that content in 140 characters with the end goal of driving advocacy.

Brand advocacy, of course, happens over time; it can start with a 140-character tweet.

Daniel B. Honigman

(NOTE: Best Buy is a client of Weber Shandwick.)

My articles

Use Twitter lists to build your personal brand

NOTE: I originally posted this on the Personal Branding Blog.

If you’re a personal brand, or are looking to build your personal brand, you can use Twitter lists as well. Here are some easy things you can do to get noticed:

– Thank every person who lists you. While it may take only a second to add someone to a Twitter list, it also takes a second to notice that you’re on someone else’s list. If someone thinks you add enough value to warrant addition to their contacts, thank the person who adds you. If you’re not following the person who added you, give them a follow and then, once they follow you back, DM them a quick thank-you note. A thank-you note will get you noticed, and it’s yet another opportunity to talk to people in your network.

– Follow lists compiled by people you’re looking to network with. If you’re an ultra-networker, a job seeker or simply someone looking to be seen, one way you can get noticed is by following someone else’s list. Many lists have no followers, and if you can distinguish yourself by being the first follower of someone else’s list, not only does it distinguish you, but it gives you and that person something to talk about. Also, it shows you who they think adds value to their day.

– Create lists of people you meet offline. Some folks have thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers, most of whom they’ve never met before. As you meet people at conferences, networking events and through work, you may want to add them to a list devoted to people you’ve met.An easier way to do this could be to create a new list for each conference and event you attend. This way, your Twitter contacts will be organized for quick recall.

– Create lists to show how well-rounded you are. Some folks live, breathe and evangelize social media all day, every day, and quite often, their Twitter streams are filled with all sorts of social media-related blog posts, re-tweets and general observations. While this is great, it will cause their stream to be one-dimensional and, therefore, useless to most people who actually use Twitter.

Create a list of useful people to follow in your city or town. Create a separate list about your interests. Create lists around your musical and/or artistic tastes. Show me that you’re a well-rounded person, and I’m more likely to follow you on Twitter.

– Showcase your happy clients. For successful consultants, whether their business grows depends in part on positive word of mouth. If you connect potential leads with your happy customers, you’ll find that there’s a good chance your business will grow. Twitter is just another channel through which you can connect your clients with potential customers. At the end of your projects, don’t just ask clients for LinkedIn recommendations, but ask if they would want to be added to a special Twitter list just for clients who recommend you. This way, a person who goes to your Twitter profile can instantly find people who like your work.

Keep in mind that it may be easy for business competitors to scour your lists and pick out your customers, and that a “client recommendation” Twitter list could be an incubator for negative word of mouth, or that there are some clients who just won’t want their names out there. Be very careful in who you pick.

These are just some ways to grow your personal brand through your Twitter lists. If I left anything out, please feel free to leave your suggestions as comments after this post!

Media news

Tidbit of the Day: Quoted in MarketingSherpa

Rob Quigley, the Web editor for the Austin American-Statesman, and I were quoted in this MarketingSherpa article about — surprise — mainstream media using Twitter.

Rob stole the show completely, but I got the kicker quote.

Anyway, we may or may not have something cooking. So stay tuned…

Media news

Tidbit of the Day: Quoted in Advertising Age

The piece, “Google, Yahoo Become Print’s Allies,” by Nat Ives, is about newspapers’ new media efforts. Nat asked me about the Chicago Tribune’s social media work.

Who else was mentioned? My good friend Colonel Tribune.

Who would’ve thought: Daniel B. Honigman, panelist, speaker, lecturer — and now quoted in a major industry publication?

My parents would be proud, I think. I just wish they were still around.