The best known microblog is Twitter, but there are others such as identi.ca. and jaiku. If ‘blog’ is short for web log, then a microblog is a very short web log. Twitter launched itself based on asking people to answer the question ‘what are you doing now?’ – but the scope has extended far beyond that and the understanding of what that really means varies widely.
On identi.ca and jaiku the feel is more friends and family, whereas Twitter spans the spectrum from corporate business to hobbies and social.
I hear so many people complaining that ‘Twitter doesn’t work’, but when I try to establish what they are expecting it do they either don’t know or simply expect it to act as a free sales person. They have completely missed the point. That’s a bit like going up to a complete stranger at a networking event or party and saying ‘hello, my name is Lesley, I’m selling webcopy, do you want to buy my services?’ Well, what would your response be if someone did that to you? Quite!
If the answer to ‘what am I doing now’ is ‘playing computer games’, not many people are going to be interested, unless I’m able to tell them useful or interesting things about the game I’m playing – like shortcuts or ways through. If the answer is ‘eating a late lunch’ that doesn’t really tell them much either. However, if I’m following a special eating plan and trying to get a group of buddies together, some information on the lunch and how it works might be useful.
It may sound calculated, but if you’re going to use Twitter (and other microblogs) to help you achieve something, whether that is new business connections, fans, people who have a common interest, keep up to date with people who are friends or find out specific pieces of information, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve and post content that helps you to do that.
Always look at it from the people who see your messages – what is their likely reaction? Use the microblogs’ power to get information to a larger audience, share your expertise, gain a reputation, build relationships, create interest, pass on useful information, let people know of offers and special deals and interact with a wide range of people.
Don’t be a broadcast only person, respond to others, pass on their information to your own followers (retweet) and answer questions. Finally, be human – it makes a big difference.
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