What frustrates me is when people from the “outside” – people whom, for whatever reason, choose not to partake in social networking – try to diminish its power. Try to diminish its value.
Take, for example, a typical Twitter-related question from a non-Twitterer:
“Why would you ever follow almost 2,000 people on Twitter? You don’t know them. Do you really care about what some dude in Ohio is having for lunch?”
No. In theory, I really don’t. But that dude in Ohio may be the marketing director of a major national retail chain that is looking to market to moms. And we may be following each other on Twitter. And that dude may tweet that he just ate a delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup at Panera Bread. And as that happens to be my favorite, too, I may tweet back @dudeinOhio something like: I am going to Panera for lunch with my dad; planning on having chicken noodle soup, too. And though our shared love of Panera’s chicken noodle soup, we may find some synergies in our work and forge a business relationship.
This is just a hypothetical example because I actually happened to have lunch with my dad today at Panera (yes, chicken noodle soup), but scenarios like this happen every single day on Twitter. And, in my opinion, if you’re doing any kind of business and you’re not on Twitter, you’re doing a major disservice to yourself and your brand.
This is what social networking is to me: making authentic, real connections with people that could (or could not; sometimes it’s just nice to meet new people with similar interests) lead to a mutually beneficial relationship. It has to be authentic, of course, and I wouldn’t just try to strike up a conversation about Panera in a lame attempt to shove my brand in someone’s face, hoping to get business from it. People can see right through that kind of stuff.
OK, Jane, you’re thinking. What you’re saying is all well and good, but the only example you’ve given me is a hypothetical. What else do you got?
I was hoping you’d ask.
So, let’s go back to late March/early April, when I had just started using Twitter in full force. Melanie Notkin from Savvy Auntie tweeted something about some guy @skydiver (Peter Shankman), who was looking for subscribers for his new service, in which he was putting together reporters and sources. The name of this service? Help A Reporter Out, or HARO.
One of the first reporter queries I received once I subscribed was from CNN.com, looking for someone who felt like his spouse had a “digital mistress” (like a BlackBerry). I thought my husband, Steve, would be a good source for the story, so I forwarded it to him, he was interviewed by a reporter, and a month later the story was up on CNN.com. Included in the article was a link to our site, Mom Generations (at that time called Pinks & Blues). Needless to say, we got a ton of hits, and as a result, tons of subscribers to our site.
Thanks to Twitter, I found out about HARO, which in turn got my site up on CNN.com.
(By the way, if you’ve read Audrey’s blog, you’ll know I’m not the only fan of HARO in my family.)
So there’s one example. Here’s another. I mentioned Melanie Notkin as the person who introduced me to HARO through Twitter. In fact, I met Melanie on Twitter, before her site launched, and she was (very wisely) using Twitter as a way to network and get buzz going about the launch of her site, Savvy Auntie, the first community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids. (I’d say she was successful… she launched in July; in the month of September the site had 58,000 unique visitors. That’s huge.)
In any case, a few months after meeting on Twitter, I got an email from Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company. He was inviting me to Ford’s 2009 Model Year media day out at the company’s Dearborn, MI headquarters. He had been looking for people outside of the auto industry, (in his own words), “people interested in technology, environmental issues, family and luxury” to come out to the headquarters, drive the cars and meet the people behind the technology and innovation.
How had he found me? Melanie Notkin had recommended me as an influential aunt, someone who would have an interest in going to the event and learning what Ford had in store for its consumers in 2009. Without Twitter, I am sure I would have found out about Savvy Auntie, but I probably would not have made the personal connection with Melanie, a connection that made me come to mind when she was asked by Scott to recommend people for the Ford event.
So there’s two good examples. But I have saved the best for last.
This spring I started connecting with Jessica Smith on Twitter. She had been in the marketing world for years before having a child, and had just recently come on the “mom blog” scene with her site, Jessica Knows. She quickly became a force to be reckoned with, first landing a job – through Twitter – as the Chief Mom Officer of Wishpot, and then being asked to join the Elevenmoms of Walmart.
One of the (many!) connections she made through Twitter was Scott Monty of Ford, who put this up on Twitter just a few hours ago:
Yup, because of Twitter (and her own marketing/social networking savvy, of course), Jessica was able to come on the scene and – within the course of a few months – make her way to Ford headquarters for a marketing presentation. WOW.
Oh, and at the time of writing this, Scott Monty follows 2,937 people. Jessica Smith follows 2,919. Melanie Notkin follows 2,095.
Now, if you still aren’t convinced about the power and value of Twitter – or the power and value of social media in general – perhaps your name is Dell circa 2005. Read here why that company came to see the light.