The Wha? Column: Tweet Tweet

Hello everyone! My name is @PhilipRBrewer (stay with me now), and I’m starting a new weekly column called The Wha? Column.  This column is going to be about social media and how individuals and businesses can utilize social media to help grow their businesses and engage their customers more effectively.  You may be asking why I have the @ symbol in front of my name? @PhilipRBrewer is my Twitter name.  As you may have guessed, this first post is going to be about Twitter. 

After signing up for Twitter, I started searching for individuals that I knew from around our community and I noticed one thing, there weren’t a lot of people from this area that are using Twitter. I then decided to start searching for people and things around the world that were interesting to me and I found that the one thing they all had in common were tweets about interesting things such as breaking news, advice, events, interesting pictures, and yes, even what they were eating for breakfast that day. 

Most people around the town already have a Facebook account and possibly a Facebook Fan Page and they understand how to use this medium and have become comfortable with them.  Maybe there aren’t a lot of Twitter users because most people feel it’s basically the same as Facebook and why would they want to learn a new way to communicate the same information as they did on Facebook.  What most people might not understand what differentiates Facebook from Twitter is that Facebook is a social network and Twitter is an information network.  Now what does that mean? 

Facebook builds social connections and let’s you keep up to date with what’s happening in your social circle.  With Facebook, you become friends with someone you know and get to see the content they provide and vice versa.  With Twitter though, you can choose what information you want to receive and following someone is not obligated.  Although Facebook and Twitter are similar with the way they focus on profiles, relationships and newsfeeds, they differ with Facebook emphasizing profiles and people while Twitter emphasizes actual content (tweets).  On Facebook, you usually talk about personal events, birthday wishes, relationship status, and likes, but on Twitter, you’re more likely to find content such as breaking news, links, brands, ideas, and other information to share (retweet) from people which may be outside of your social life.

In a small town like Union City, most businesses and non-profits still rely on the old methods of advertising by using newspapers, phone books, restaurant placemats, billboards, and radio. Unfortunately in small communities, people are seeing technology improve so rapidly that it’s easy to feel like you’re being left behind. With better cell phone towers and better capabilities for receiving faster Internet connections, we should all be looking for better and more effective ways to communicate with our customers.  A lot of businesses have already signed up for a Facebook page to represent their business but have not reached out to Twitter to help push information out to it’s public.  Like I mentioned before, Facebook is a social network while Twitter is an information network.  Twitter has recently redesigned its platform to make it easier to use and with a little help and instruction, everyone should be able to use it constructively.

The following example from 

http://fortunemarketingcompany.com/2010/03/how-small-town-local-businesses-can-benefit-from-twitter/

is about a coffee shop in Houston, TX who utilized Twitter to help their business thrive.  The independent coffee shop called Coffee Groundz had tried print ads, radio spots and other forms of traditional advertising and nothing seemed to work.  A managing partner of the shop started using Twitter in an informal way to interact with friends and customers.  One tweet led to another and it wasn’t long before the word spread and the local @coffeegroundz business was taking orders via Twitter!  They said their business has increased 20 to 30 percent since using Twitter!

The first thing all of you can do is sign up for Twitter and follow Union City Now @unioncitynow and myself @PhilipRBrewer and start learning about the information network of Twitter.  Next week, I’ll be posting tips on how to use Twitter more effectively to help businesses interact with their customers and potential customers. Thank you for reading my first post in The Wha? Column!