With Twitter, Ignorance Is Not Bliss


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I guess you know that you’re getting old when you refuse (with extreme prejudice) to learn about new things. People of my age seem to be thrilled by the fact that they don’t know much about social media, much less Twitter. I can’t count how many times I have heard someone gleefully say something like, “Tweeting, or tweeter or whatever the hell it’s called, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how to Twitter and I just don’t see any reason to get involved with any of that. I just don’t know how that is going to help my business.”

In many cases these are the same well-intentioned people who rue the fact that there are so few young people in our industry today.

Well, guess what? In this day and age, none of us can afford this kind of calculated ignorance. We do not have the luxury of completely rejecting any part of social media communications. In this era where doing business has become more and more complicated, we just cannot risk overlooking any venue that can help us to do a better job of getting our company’s story out there to our customers and would-be customers.

Think about how we sound to the young people we’re desperately trying to lure into our industry when we say things like, “Social media is a passing fad that I have no intention of being a part of.” Or “I have never Tweeted, don’t even know how to do it, and have no desire to ever learn anything about it.”

Well, if you want some insight into how you sound to young people, let me refresh your memory and take you back to the dark ages when we were kids. Remember when your old man told you, “What is that crap you’re listening to [any band from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Devo or Creedence Clearwater Revival]? In my day, we had Sinatra and the big bands. Now that was real music!”

Remember what you thought of your dad, that narrow-minded so-and-so?

You may remember back in 1977 when Digital Equipment Corporation founder Ken Olsen proclaimed, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Well, let’s get back to present time, because now you are the old man, and you sound as dumb as Ken Olsen.

If you are going to keep up in this world, and you plan on doing business in the 21st century, and if you plan on having customers who are 20-30 years younger than you, or you want young people to come work for you, then you had better open up that creaky old head of yours and start learning about this new-fangled jargon and what it can do for your company.

But you are not leaving this column without learning something. You will not go away without knowing exactly what Twitter is:

From the website Whatis.com

Twitter is a free social media networking (microblogging) service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called Tweets. Twitter members can broadcast Tweets and follow other user’s Tweets by using multiple platforms and devices. Tweets and replies to Tweets can be sent by cell phone (text messages) desktop client or by posting at the Twitter.com web site.

…Anyone can follow anyone on publicTwitter. To weave tweets into a conversation thread or connect them to a general topic, members can add hashtags# to a key word in their post. The hashtag acts like a metatag is expressed as a key word.

For those of us who are serious about business, Twitter is the fastest way to get the word out there about something that is happening at your company. If you have hired a new person, bought a new piece of equipment, developed a new technology, or written a new white paper, Twitter is the best way to reach the widest audience that is interested in what you are doing.

If someone likes what you have Tweeted and wants to make sure that everyone else sees it, he sends it out with a hashtag. If enough people do this, then your Tweet can go viral and all of a sudden a whole bunch of people are heading to your website or Facebook page to learn more about your company.

Now think about that for a minute. How many of your other marketing tools can claim to do that? Not an ad in a magazine, not a mass mailing and certainly not that print brochure that costs you a small fortune and is out of date before you finish paying for it.

So now you know. The big secret about what Twitter is. And you have to admit it’s not so bad, is it? Actually, it could be a pretty good thing for your company…if you take the time to learn what it is and then try it. It could actually work for you. You might even get to like it.

And you have to admit you are going to look pretty cool to those young people you are trying to hire. And that’s only common sense.

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