Why Twitter Should Stick Around

twitter-hashcloudsOn August 19th I participated in a TweetChat with around 200 public relations professionals and fellow PR students. We tweeted back and forth over 900 times to #PRstudchat responding to six PR related questions. The moderator was Deirdre Breakenridge, or in this case @dbreakenridge, she is a PRo in the 2.0 realm, check her out! Another major contributor was Valerie Simon, @valeriesimon. Valerie is writing a six part blog series on the event revealing the best answers to the six questions …..

This was my very first TweetChat, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Overall, it was very informative and a new way of getting useful information quickly. One of the most useful aspects about the chat was the automatic links to material. Social media is allowing students to connect with some of the smartest, most influential professionals and have direct access to their knowledge. I think that this will revolutionize the way students respond and discuss in classrooms. In my Strategic Social Media class that I took with Kelli Matthews we frequently had “quest speakers.” I put quotes around that because the majority of the guests spoke to us over Skype; when we had Skype issues we would type questions into twitter so the speaker could still respond to our questions. We had the pleasure of speaking with Marcel Lebrun from Radian6, Kami Huyse from My PR Pro, and Paull Young of Converseon. Twitter allows pros, students and anyone interested to connect with millions of different people, gather them together to have an hour long discussion or debate, and talk about passions and professions all in 140 characters what’s not to love? I know there are Twitter haters out there but I am not one of them if you use it like I do, which is not to update you on when I am in the bathroom or grabbing a latte then it is awesome! Check out the next #PRstudchat on Sept. 16 at 12pm EST and 9am PST I suggest you all join in you can also join the linkedin group.

Q1: What kind of education does a PR person need to be successful?

The overwhelming response was to take business classes as well as a diverse range of courses like Psychology, sociology; have excellent communication skills; and get some real world experience.

Best responses are listed on Public Relations Examiner but I want to pull my favorites:

@Chrisjoneslehi: Understanding business is necessary, but PR is about transmission, not just understanding. Transmission=writing these days.

@sallyfalkow: A thorough understanding of communication and how people relate to each other.

(This is me)@Marlin23: I would say internships and mentors. In school you learn how to do things, internships teach you how things get done.

Q2: What are the best PR books and industry publications to read?

@RickOpp: PR 2.0, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, @ChrisBrogan’s new book “Trust Agents” getting a lot of good buzz.

@hdueitt: Staying up to date with all industry news is key to keeping up with trends. PR Daily, PR News, PR Week, Bulldog Reporter

@samemac: @TDefren ‘s blog PR Squared for SHIFT comm is one of the better blogs to read as an upcoming PR pro

@jodyrae: Bad Pitch Blog

Q3:Are there any other great networking sites besides Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great… but not the only places to network and engage with PR professionals

@BrettPohlman: Hands down PROpenMic.org. All PR students MUST be on this site. It’s a great way to get exposure to top PR Execs

@LadyMusic: PROpenMic on Ning, YoungPRPros on Yahoo, and look for social media networking events on Eventbrite or Going.com

Q4: What does a CEO look for in a PR hire?

@5W_PR: Passion, Confidence, Versatility, People Who Take Initiative to Learn & Develop

@rachelakay: I look for someone who has a passion for my clients, my company and who has done research. Do your homework!

@CTMichaels: Also, be prepared 2 start at the bottom. Showing motivation to move up & taking chances is huge in PR

@chrisjoneslehi:  This CEO looks for breadth of experience, service, and (you might have guessed) strong writing skills

@rachelakay: Highly recommend new hires connect with CEOs etc. on social networks and read their blogs and comment. I give priority to those

Twitterized: How to Tap into Twitter

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Who would have thought that only 30 years after the Internet was invented, there would be a tool that allows a company to broadcast information to millions of people in a matter of seconds. That same tool also allows companies to listen in on discussions about how people are using their products and what they think of them, allowing a continuous two-way conversation with customers when they have a problem or concern.

If you can’t figure out what I was talking about in my above description I will give you a hint, “tweet, tweet.”

Most, if not all, social media connoisseurs are aware of Twitter and its many applications. I’ll break it down for those who are not familiar. Twitter’s microblogging platform allows its users to stream very short posts or “tweets” (140 characters) that others can follow and respond to. It allows companies (and individuals) to have conversations with influencers who are willing and eager to share what they learn with their friends and many followers. For businesses specifically, Twitter offers genuine interactions with the people who choose to use the company’s products. Twitter is literally a social media tool, but more specifically it is a large community.

Twitter is a great way to connect with customers, but it is not a tool to exploit and bombard people with news releases. There is a strategic way to approach Twitter. I will outline a few steps that advise businesses on how to get the most out of Twitter.

Purpose:

Have a clear purpose and objective in mind to guide your use of Twitter. Figure out whom you want to reach. Do you want to reach key influencers within your field? Or do you want to engage customers? The way you use Twitter will be different for each target audience.

It is important to remember that you are creating an online persona for your brand or company. If you have more than one purpose you might want to create multiple accounts: One to relay news, one to respond to customers complaints, and one to take part in conversations surrounding your field or product.

Following:

Using tools like Twitter take time and patience when you first start using them. Another important thing to remember is, listening is more important than talking, especially when you are first getting aquainted with the tool. There is a search tool built into Twitter that allows you to find people who are tweeting about your company, competitors and any related topic pertinent to your business.

While searching, you can start to follow key commentators and influencers and observe what people are saying. Eventually include yourself in the conversation, but only respond with relevant and informative information. Following influential members will show them, and the tweeting world, that you are interested in what they have to say; in return, it will encourage them to follow you.

Maintain Interest and Engage:

Twitter will only prove beneficial to a company if it offers something of value with every tweet, whether that’s news about the company, advice for consumers of products or insight about a niche market. Twitter users are not receptive or welcoming to blatant attempts at manipulation. It is not a good idea to use any type of obvious self-promotion, advertising attempts, or spin.

Encourage your followers to talk about themselves by asking them questions related to your mutual interests that you think they will want to answer. Show interest in the people who use the company’s products.

When given the opportunity, people show loyalty for companies and products that they feel represent them and people like them. Being real and approachable, as well as taking part in the two-way conversation on Twitter, goes a long way toward showing people what you have in common and that you are willing to engage.

Explore tools:

The Twitter Web site is okay to start with, but once you get the hang of it explore the many different tool options available. I personally like Tweetdeck, which allows you to open multiple searches or groups that update in real time. There are many tools available to make using Twitter easy. This list might be helpful.

If you go slow, observe before jumping in, and know why you are there then your Twittering days shall prove successful and beneficial.

Pistachio is another great reference to use for all Twitter-related questions.