Twitter for me is like that old friend that you can go years without speaking to, but once you reconnect, it's as though no time has passed at all. Twitter was founded in 2006 and I started my first account on August 28, 2008 with the tweet "figuring out this new site!" Though it was for a brand (@onecoconut), it was also my own personal Twitter account. H2H before it was the buzzy trend term it is today? Nah. Much more of a case of A) me having no clue what I was doing and B) my having no clear boundaries between my life and my life at that job, and C) my letting that job completely become my identity. I ran that account until January of 2013 and to this day, tweets still come into it that begin with my name. Sometime in between I started my current account @lucyrk78 for myself, but never truly nurtured it or looked into the importance of it outside of having fun, following celebrities and people I knew in person, looking for jobs and finding pictures for my next tattoo. I participated in a few Twitter chats throughout the years, but never realized until a few months ago that chats happen every single day on the hour.
- Networking: I cannot stress enough how important and precious networking is to me. And not in the sense of "What can (insert the name of anyone/everyone you know here) do for me?" but in the sense of waking up every day and thinking "How can I be of service? What can I do to help you today?" The more people you know, the smaller and warmer and more inclusive the world gets. You are able to do and accomplish and see things beyond your wildest dreams, and get the opportunity to help other people do and accomplish and see and be a part of things beyond THEIR wildest things. This is where the only selfish part (at least for me) comes in - HELPING OTHERS FEELS GOOD. If this seems naïve or altruistic, I understand. I have been burned numerous times, wanting to see the good in everybody. I haven't let myself become jaded, but I also don't want to realize that some people network purely for the good of furthering themselves. I hate that cutthroat aspect of networking so admittedly, I tend to dismiss the idea of that with people I'm surrounded by acting that way. Twitter chats open you up to the possibility of meeting more people than you ever could by simply living offline - and there are people you will meet that feel and live the same way you (I) do, and will enrich your life and your business in ways you couldn't have possibly imagined. Travel for work? Have the time to travel for fun? How great is it that Twitter chats allow you to meet people from all over the world that you can then meet in person as you travel? The networking doesn't end after the hour of the Twitter Chat. Relationships take time online just like they do offline - find people in your chats that you'd like to speak with outside of just the chat. Remember, Twitter is open 24/7!
- Small Business Marketing (SMB): While not restricted to small businesses in any way, Twitter chats are great for smaller businesses to include in their marketing mix, as you don't need the massive budgets larger companies enjoy. Twitter chats are 100% free and open to anyone that can follow a specified hashtag. There are over 600 chats each week, so it will take some time to sift through the offerings to find the ones that speak specifically to your business, your target and your community.
- Becoming a Human Business: If you are joining Twitter Chats from "behind a logo," it's taking a first step in becoming a humanized brand. There's much more to do, but it's a start. If you are able to speak with people as the person actually doing the tweeting, honestly and with transparency (not in a jumble of corporate speak), then people will be more drawn to your brand. Consumers want (and deserve) more than just a great product. They want (and deserve) a great company. Who you attract to your business through Twitter Chats depends on your ability to speak to people as though you were tweeting from your own personal account. You can be professional while maintaining all the things that make you a cool person to be around. No one wants you joining their Twitter Chat just to hijack it by constantly selling to them and pitching them.
- So. Much. Learning: Fully being present in Twitter Chats allows you to learn so much. You have people sharing their thoughts, best practices, and what's gotten them as far as they have in life from all over the world. Not only do you have the opportunity to share things you've learned with others, but others are sharing that same knowledge with you and it's invaluable. In each hour during a chat, you are also learning how to become better at Active Listening. Unless you go into a chat thinking you know everything and are only there with something to prove (hint hint, it won't prove anything except that you're not someone people want to be around) you have the chance to be a part of great debates and sharing of knowledge where you can truly learn hour by hour. And for free!