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Opinion

Twitter brings social media into the real world of online business

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March 10, 2011

Last week I ended my column with #fishnerds.  To those of you on Twitter, that was just an odd placement of a hashtag. To those of you who are not it was just ugly grammar. 

To those who are not on Twitter, particularly the readers in or soon to be in the job hunt, get on it. Twitter is constantly compared to Facebook because both fall under the social media realm. Yet just a mild comparison of the two brings some stark differences to the surface. Facebook allows anyone to display his or her life on the web, such as interests, photos, and employment. On Facebook people become “friends.” A Facebook page really has the feel of a socially acceptable personal ad. 

Twitter, on the other hand, takes what Facebook did for the students’ social life and expands it to the real world, to business.  I admit, I’m as guilty as anyone of tweeting the preposterous or ironic simply for comedic relief. However, when used for a legitimate purpose, Twitter is the single most influential marketing, public relations, and networking tool the world has ever seen.

No longer do those with a product to sell have to hope and pray customers find their website. It allows a business to get directly to its clientele without a middleman, without delay.  All it takes is one diligent employer to do a simple search and pick out the individuals on Twitter who are tweeting about something relevant to his or her business.  This is especially effective for small, specialized businesses with a focused customer base. 

Let’s look at an artisanal cheese factory, for instance (because who doesn’t love artisanal cheese?). Someone from the hypothetical Shredded Cheese Co. punches “cheese” or “cheddar” or “curds” into the Who To Follow bar and results pop up of anyone on Twitter, anyone in the world, who has recently used these words in a tweet. A quick scan allows the Shredded Cheese employee to pick out prospective customers. Shredded Cheese Co. then follows those individuals. If those followed are interested in cheese, which their tweets have indicated they probably are, they will in turn follow Shredded Cheese Co. In five minutes Shredded Cheese Co. has exposed itself to a limitless number of prospective customers.  Add the fact that Twitter allows for the posting of links and Shredded Cheese Co. has just announced to the world it has a new provolone without relying on people walking in the door or searching for its homepage.

Serious Twitter doesn’t care about your relationship status; it cares about what you buy and what you sell. 

And for those of you still curious about the hashtag, start tweeting and find out.