Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Twitter taught me in a year

It was just over a year ago when I got into Twitter and started tweeting *proper-like*. Sure, I’d been on Facebook for a while but the whole Social Media thing didn’t happen until I quit my job to start up a Marketing and Communications Consultancy, and was procrastinating about writing my business plan. Previously, who had time to explore Social Media, what with all those Marketing meetings to attend!

Since taking the plunge as @sarallenconsult, I have sent 3,000+ tweets, made friends with a good number of my followers, had meaningful conversations, been rated #1 PR Specialist on Twitter in Australia and somehow, taken my business from running PR and Marketing campaigns for clients to executing Social Media campaigns and now, Social Media workshops.

So, as a way of giving this blog another kick up the proverbial, I’ve written down some thoughts on what Twitter, and Social Media has taught me in that time.

Business can be friendly

I know, who woulda thunk it? In the Social Media stratosphere you can be yourself and cut the weasel words that characterise the traditional business environment. Maybe it’s the 140 char limit, but I prefer being able to show my true colours as both person and professional, without having to present as a cardboard cutout with briefcase in hand.

Marketing University is online... and free

Yes, I got a piece of paper from a picturesque university heralding my qualification in the field of Communications, but it’s a different ball game in the workplace. New media evolves quicker than you can say “holy crapballs” and the only constant is change. Where better to up your quals by tuning into some of the inspirational thinking found in online blogs, webinars, and tweets?

Some of my faves to follow are
Professor Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu), Seth Godin, Problogger (@problogger), Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and the fabulous sharing peeps at MarketingProfs (@marketingprofs) and Hubspot (@hubspot).

There are a gazillion different sources online, try finding the time to read them all regularly, and then explore their ideas yourself!

Position, position, position

It’s all about location in the property market, but for businesses and (dare I say it) dynamic professional individuals, you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, whether that is as a dry cleaning guru, a not-for-profit organisation starting a new movement, or one of many MarComms Industry types jostling for pole position online.

Positioning yourself as a mover and shaker is all about generating good content, engaging with the Social Media application at hand, and developing a unique voice and perspective with the stuff you say. You might find you have a quirky or renegade streak, can be authoritative, or warm, even funny. Highlight that part of you and look at generating content from that viewpoint. ‘Cause vanilla ice-cream ain’t memorable. Not compared to a giant flying orange elephant in a mankini.

Keep up with the new stuff

As I found out rapidly, it’s not just about tweeting, but learning to use the apps that are part of the greater Twitterverse. These include staples like Tweetdeck, Twitterrific, and Social Oomph plus utilising the other Social Media sites like Twitpic, YouTube, Tumblr, 12 Seconds, Foursquare and Gowalla to provide a mix of content that is best suited to your unique voice and your business.

It’s not hard. Simply tune into the Marketing masters I mentioned earlier, check out the links and stuff that they mention, and you’ll be constantly upskilling without even knowing it. Yes, it takes time to stay on the forefront of what’s current, but isn’t that all part of the drive to keep up?

It's a fun community to be part of

Whaddayaknow, those online communities I’d heard mentioned in long-winded Marketing meetings actually exist, and now I’m part of them, having meaningful and fun conversations with my tweeps across the globe!

Some highlights have been: taking the #Media140 conference in Sydney from a tweet to reality; helping not-for-profits build a presence online and reinvigorating their voice; finding like-minded Marketing professionals to swap ideas and experiences with; and most recently, discovering the art of #breastweeting and remaining connected on my iPhone as a sleep-deprived new mum.

In all my experiences though, there’s been a common theme: I’ve connected with people who genuinely care, and since it’s such a short trip through life, ain’t that what’s most important?

It's addictive

Having written the initial notes for this blog at 3.28am... yes it IS certainly addictive, and in terms of engaging with the medium at hand, beats watching M.A.S.H reruns on the telly!