Twitter is conquering the world of online instant networking. The social networking site, initially thought of as a mere forum for social networking and 140 character daily minutia, has officially arrived as a viable professional and self-promotional tool.
“My first job at Diccicco Battista Communications entailed very traditional public relations – then, it was a huge deal if you landed in the WSJ. Now it’s huge if @WSJ re-tweets you,” senior account executive at Brownstein Group, Laura Van De Pette, said via email.
Clearly, for those in the communication industry, Twitter has become a true game-changer in terms of connecting people to companies and people to people.
An online editor at Montgomery Media and a Cabrini alumnus, Andrew Stettler, affirms this rapid growth. “When I joined Montgomery Media last year, the company didn’t use social networking and hardly knew what Twitter was,” Stettler said in an email interview.
“Today we have over 1,200 followers [on Twitter] and Twitter is the fifth most referred domain to our site. In other words, Twitter pulls readers to our website.” But for all its explosive growth in the communication sector, what is Twitter really being used for other than a publicity stunt? For professional applications, it provides an instant link between a company and the public.
“Twitter is one way our readers can tell us what they want to know,” Stettler said via email. “Last week, a reader tweeted us complaining about a local school district’s late buses. We immediately called the school district to find out what was going on. Twitter is a way for our customers to interact with our company. They can literally ask us to cover something.”
For individuals, Twitter is most useful in a self-promotional or information-gathering capacity. With it, one can easily network with others in your field. “It’s a way to talk to those already in your industry and to get your name out there in an unobtrusive way,” Suzanne Yada, copy editor for California Watch, said in a phone interview.
Yada, who received an internship with the Silicon Valley Business Journal through her use of Twitter, is a testament to the opportunities that this social networking site can provide. “I got into Twitter fairly early while I was in college. People from the Silicon Valley Business Journal saw that I was very active as a journalist on Twitter and got in contact with me,” Yada said.
As confirmation of Twitter’s capacity to quickly facilitate networking, in less than three days of using Twitter, an interview was set up with Yada, a professional journalist living across the country in California. Twitter also offers a unique tool to young and aspiring journalists and news seekers. Due to the brief, quick nature of 140 character tweets and the omnipresence of Twitter cell phone applications, Twitter offers breaking news almost instantly.
“Twitter provides quick, localized news filtering in from anywhere something is happening. It’s very useful as a starting point in finding news,” Yada said. For those realizing how useful Twitter could be for them, but reticent or unsure how to start, Stettler offers advice.
“One, follow the big wigs of the industry you want to get into and learn from their work. Learn to tweet like them and interact with them when you can without getting annoying,” Stettler said. “Two, start a blog and post your work to that blog. Then share the links to that blog on Twitter. Start building a massive portfolio of whatever you create and show the Twitter world that you can handle yourself in the professional world.”
Whatever one chooses to use or not use Twitter for, it’s emerging relevance and power in the professional world cannot be overstated.
“Now when we look at possible new employees, we immediately want to know their social media experience and their favorite social campaign,” Van De Pette said in an email interview. “It’s more valuable than anything else right now.”