Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Cents: Twitter is a Powerful PR Tool

Cross post from PRSA San Antonio Byline, June 2008 issue.

I don’t usually give advice this way. But, if you are not using Twitter yet, it’s time. Today. Normally, I would suggest you check it out when you have time to see if it’s a good fit for you. But not in this case. If you are in public relations – and likely if you’re not – you need to understand Twitter. And to understand it, you have to use it.

Simply put, Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service – meaning once you sign up (easily), you can send updates (or “tweets”) of up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter web site. You choose people to follow so you can read their tweets, and people follow you to read yours. Over time, you’re part of a community.

If you’ve been waiting to see if this fad will catch on, the waiting is over. Twitter has become a powerful tool for communication for organizations, communities and individuals. Many news stories are breaking on Twitter first because people experiencing whatever it is are tweeting about it in real time.

Here are just a few ways people and organizations have already been using Twitter:

• Comcast is using Twitter to respond to customer-service related tweets.

• The Red Cross is using Twitter to send emergency updates to communities experiencing a disaster and universities are using it to notify students about emergencies.

• Small businesses are using Twitter to drive traffic to their web sites and generate sales (though hard sell and creepy tactics aren’t tolerated among Twitter users).

• Individuals are getting questions answered quickly (when visiting a new city, Dan York asked suggestions for a store that sells boots).

• At least one charity non-profit has been formed by Twitter users in response to a woman’s honest tweets about her breast cancer diagnosis (see Frozen Pea Fund).

• Southwest Airlines uses Twitter to let customers know about deals.

• Journalists at Read Write Web discover tech news tips on Twitter first on a regular basis and they use it to solicit interview questions via Twitter.

Conference speakers instruct audience members to submit questions via Twitter and monitor Twitter traffic to get immediate feedback on their event.

• A professor uses Twitter to communicate with his students between classes.

Granted, there are other tools like this one. And some of them are more stable and have better features. But Twitter was first. I’ve listed some resources for you for when you have questions.

But don’t keep studying it. Do it. And let me know what your Twitter name is and I’ll post it on our blog so others can find you. Oh yeah, follow me on Twitter at

The 10 ways I learned to use Twitter in 2007... (aka Why and How I use Twitter)

Newbie's guide to Twitter

Twitter in Plain English

The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter

Twitter for Academia

How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR


Mike Volpe said...

Thanks for referencing my post on the HubSpot Blog about how to use twitter for marketing and PR.

Christie Goodman, APR said...

You're certainly welcome. I hope some new folks will give it a try. Thanks for the resource.

Sherry Carr Deer said...

Twitter, like everything else we do professionaly, is about relationships. If people don't know why they should be using Twitter, then they haven't built relationships with (and follow) people they can learn from, network with, or even sell to. Such a quick and easy connection to people!


Donna Papacosta said...

Nice post, Christie. I am not on Twitter as much as I'd like these days (hey, I'm grateful for the workload), but I do find it VERY useful for tracking important online conversations, getting leads on potential suppliers, asking and answering questions and so on. It can also be very entertaining and serve as my virtual water cooler.

zafiro80 said...

i like it to have fun and get more hits to my blog. it's very interesting and addicting. interacting with people on it is almost like IM but without the annoying sounds that come with it.

zafiro80 said...

oh forgot: