On this site we've seen Tom Martin talk about Twitter as a home for valuable resources, and David Armano explain the importance of understanding how consumers spread opinions about brands through Twitter. Michael Learmonth wrote a great article about the Motrin Moms incident after which we all (hopefully) learned a lesson about what happens if consumer chatter on Twitter goes unanswered. Most of the DigitalNext bloggers have addressed Twitter at least once.
I'm surprised that in spite of all the hype a lot of Millennials in advertising are still holding out on Twitter. A lot of us have dabbled with it, but quickly lost interest and let the account run cold. It takes time to develop a fruitful network on Twitter, and Millennials are already married to other platforms: We use Facebook to keep in touch with our friends, and LinkedIn to store professional contacts. Twitter is more demanding: You only get out of it what you put in, and without regular attention your network can wither up and die. Frankly, we're not that patient.
Still, of all my attempts to engage with the advertising community (conferences, blogging, informational interviews, you name it), none has been as efficient or accessible as Twitter. I'm not going to try to write yet another post about how Twitter is the next big thing (I'd be about two years late), but I will say that if you're trying to break into this industry and you're not on Twitter, you're missing out. Perhaps a metaphor might help explain why it's such an asset:
Twitter is like the neighborhood bar of the industry. It's a place where people come to talk shop, shoot the breeze, meet new people and observe the crowd. It's noisy, but you can always get in and people are friendly.
Len Kendall of Critical Mass says, "On Twitter you'll meet well connected, sometimes unapproachable people, hear about news and opportunities before the masses, and most of the people there are actually insightful."
Twitter is a great place to go for help, especially if you're new to a topic. I've often turned to my friends on Twitter for advice when stumped on a fact-finding mission. More often than not, I'll get a response to a question like "Where can I find case studies on social media?" within minutes, provided that people can answer in 140 characters or less. Asking for help is fair game, as long as you promise to return the favor. Don't believe me? @IreneKoehler reserves her Wednesdays for a weekly #howcanIhelp day, where she connects people who have questions with people who have answers. Twitter is all about fair exchange of information.
Twitter is a good way to keep tabs on old friends, but an even better way to make new ones. Even online networking can be awkward and intimidating, but unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter gives you access to just about everyone in the network without requiring you to formally ask for permission. By nature, Twitter is a no-pressure environment where you can easily approach people you'd like to know and find out more about them. Plus, Twitter gives you a built-in icebreaker: You can always strike up a conversation based on what someone's tweeted recently.
There are a lot of insanely smart people on Twitter, and they're flattered that you'd like to follow them. These people link to interesting articles, share resources and quote notable statistics all day long, dropping knowledge on all who ask for it. They are giving you free license to pick their brains, read over their shoulders and eavesdrop on their conversations, as long as you let them do the same. Some of these smart people are nice enough to host community chats geared toward a certain topic. @PRsarahevans hosts #journchat, which connects journalists and PR professionals in discussion and @sbradley3 is starting #ADvise, a forum for tips on entering the ad world. I like to follow people from different areas across the industry; it's a good way to get multiple perspectives and learn things I didn't realize I needed to know.
Twitter is a great way to be plugged into the industry: If there's news relevant to us, someone has tweeted it. People on Twitter love to tweet about new technology and what it means for the future, and if you follow the right people, you'll often see notices of agency layoffs, job openings (before it hits HR's web listing) and accounts on the move. This information is gold to those of us who are looking for a job or internship and need to hedge our bets. Following the trending pages can help you pick up a groundswell (like the Motrin Moms and Priceline incidents) in real time, and following content providers like PSFK in Twitter can save you from having to go weed through their stuff later.
I won't deny that Twitter takes commitment and some getting used to, but now that I've become a regular, I can't imagine life without it. It's the cheapest way I know to interact with the people in the industry, and no matter how far removed you are from New York, Chicago or San Francisco, you can still make meaningful connections with the people who work there.
If you'd like to meet up, you know where to find me: @keidson.