Here are 4 reasons I'll use Twitter:
1. Announcements: This appears to me to be the best function of the system. The one-way announcement feature. For example, letting members know a Hill Visit meeting time has changed, weather conditions have canceled a course, or reporting industry news. I'll use it personally ("to follow") as one of my teenage son's teachers is sending homework assignments out on Twitter; a spa is sending last-minute openings for various appointments out if/when they happen; local news uses Twitter; and our state government has Twitter as an option for citizen alerts.
2. Members are using it: I'm not a fan of doing a whole program to serve 6 members but now it's getting really mainstream. Every event and every program is now including Twitter discussion. And for better or worse, it is a new way for people to comment or complain. I read a story about a guy whose date sent a tweet (message) out to thousands of people (while at the table) saying she didn't like the chicken, but never bothered to tell her date - and he was the only one at the table with her. So now we need to seek out for ourselves that members don't like the chicken if they don't/won't tell us directly?
3. Those who teach should also "do": Because part of my job is explaining trends, it's nearly impossible to continue to leave Twitter out. And I find it's hard to teach things I don't personally use.
4. Oprah uses Twitter: Hey if Oprah's there, I'm there to see what she's saying. Same reason I tape her show every day and subscribe to the magazine. But social media (like Twitter) can actually be as one-way as watching television and reading a magazine; even if it "could" be conversational. And it has an audience. Ask CNN, Ashton Kutcher, and Oprah.
These are among other reasons to use Twitter from blogger/author/speaker Guy Kawasaki :
1. Sales and support: Another way for customers to connect with you;
2. Competitive intelligence: Don't just find out what people say about you and your company - check out the competition too. What are their customers saying and what does that mean to you?
3. News: Are you a news hound? Chances are good your favorite news source uses Twitter;
4. Hashtag discussions: Events or topics may use a hashtag (#) that brings people together to discuss that event or topic;
5. Ask questions: Can easily get fast "wisdom of the group" by asking a question.
I did check out a hashtag discussion for one conference I attended, and one that I didn't. Had details like "had pancakes for breakfast" and comments about the AV, etc. along with anything an attendee thought was a "meaningful quote". While reading along I wondered if those same attendees would communicate any of it to each other in real life - given the chance. There was likely really relevant info in there too - but I wasn't finding it (yet?) But maybe I'll play along next time. Pass the syrup.
Note: If you want a "how to" on Twitter, Judith Lindenau posted an easy-to-follow one on her blog here.
And I find I already have followers on Twitter, though I've yet to tweet anything: @cindybutts