Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Twitter in the Business World

The social media word of the day:

Twebinar (noun)- A twebinar is a webinar and Twitter mash-up where conversations take place in real-time before, during and after the webinar, on Twitter.

I just finished up my very first Twebinar, the third event of its kind ever created. While the concept isn’t so much innovative (after all, any decent Webinar software has text chatting capabilities), it is inherently social in that Twitter not only facilitates the dialog, but builds peer-to-peer connections as participants follow one another long after the event is over.

Hosted by Chris Brogan of CrossTech Media and David Alston from Radian6, the topic of the Twebinar was “The Importance of Listening”. A lineup of brand managers, PR folks and social media experts discussed the importance of being attentive to brand – and market – chatter on the Web. While these discussions were going on, those of us listening in were furiously tweeting away with questions, answers and comments on the subject.

While it was a tad tricky to pay attention to two screens simultaneously, the overall experience reaffirmed why I love Twitter as a professional communications tool. I was able to cram the thoughts, ideas and opinions of hundreds of my peers on a fascinating topic, like listening to customers online, into my brain in under an hour. Yes, I have a slight headache, but I’m also near giddy with the anticipation of sharing it all with my team.

It’s Social Media – for Adults!

Many people are surprised to hear that Twitter is catching on as a tool for networking and business applications. Since the format lends itself particularly well to B2C brands, it tends to get lumped in with consumer-friendly social media spaces like MySpace and FriendFeed, which can cause B2B brands to shy away. But Twitter definitely has value for business to business professionals as a means to participating in conversations relevant to specific business areas.

To use my area of interest - social media - as an example, I follow several well-known social media gurus on Twitter, along with the social computing analyst at Forrester Research, editors who write about social media, online PR professionals and other industry experts. And they follow me. We all tweet about the latest news, site and application launches, upcoming events and career moves. It’s a fast-paced, cutting edge forum for learning and sharing, and by being a part of it, I become aware of new developments faster, I get to know the big players, and I get to actively participate in industry shaping conversations.

While I realize that the community built around this interest falls into the category of “early adopters” when it comes to using Twitter to network and share ideas, other communities have also been established. Technology-related fields like software development have particularly active communities on Twitter and I predict more professional communities will come together in the future.

Next week I’ll share some tips for professional networking on Twitter. In the meantime, to hear more about the ways in which Twitter can be a valuable tool for business, check out a recent video blog from SEO specialist Pam Abbazia.

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