I first discovered Twitter in the spring when my web communication class watched the Commoncraft Twitter video. I signed up because it was free, but more than half my class thought it was a waste of time. I think by the end of the semester more people were changing their mind about the growing microblogging “fad”.
Twitter is great because it’s ability to direct followers to more information. Shel Holtz (@Shel) refers to the idea of Twitter as a table of contents or a billboard advertisement. You would never just look at a table of contents or a billboard and be satisfied; you would see the message and then go to the destination to be satisfied with an article or product. He does point out that Twitter is best when it is used for conversations. I agree because of the idea of ‘markets as conversations’ outlined in the Cluetrain Manifesto.
I recently researched how nonprofits and development organizations are using social media. Some development organizations are using Twitter to promote their mission, publications and events. Web 2.0 for Development explains how Twitter allows organizations to share information, network with stakeholders and discuss ideas with a large audience. Organizations can create dialogues with their audience asking and answering questions. Like any other social media tool, time and resources are the investment made to achieve a high return. Some of the development organizations on Twitter referenced are UNHCR, the World Food Programme, OECD, and the World Bank.
Beth Kanter (@Kanter) discusses Twitter on her blog and shares ideas about how to decide who should tweet for your organization. She suggests creating only one organizational account because of the need for several daily updates. Staffing Twitter with a team of employees may be the best way to manage an organizational account. She highlighted Co-Tweet’s Twitter account to see how each employee identifies their tweets within the account adding faces to the organization.
Employees can have personal accounts and should be encouraged to create an account to humanize the organization, but they need to remain transparent about their affiliation with the organization. An easy way to remain transparent is to identify twitter handles on the staff page of a website or web sites newsroom and to identify their affiliation in the twitter biography and website link.
There are several tools, including Hoot Suite, which can update an organizations twitter account with individual employee’s tweets about the organization. Also, Hoot Suite enables scheduling tweets ahead of time, shortened URLs and measurement options.
At IFPRI, most people rely on e-mail to send information out within the organization. An information and knowledge management specialist at IFPRI recommended this article to explain how Twitter is similar to e-mail because of the abilities to respond, retweet, mention a person or topic, and send direct messages.
Before an organization, like IFPRI, uses Twitter, a strategy must be made concerning what types of content will be tweeted and who will do the tweeting. For individual use I recommend that everyone gives Twitter a try. What’s one more social media addiction?