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Twitter: Changing the World ... 140 Characters at a Time

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Changingthe world 140 charactersat a timeBill Sheridan, CAEThe Business Learning Institute

Vail ResortsMarch 30, 2011 Blogging in miniature. Twitter is the most popular example. Great for quick-hitting, real-time alerts, announcements.

2-- Blogging in miniature.-- Twitter is the most popular example: Posts are limited to 140 or fewer characters.-- You follow the updates of only the people you choose. So you dont have to read what everyone is writing. When youre logged in, youll see only the updates of the people who are important to you.-- You can receive updates online, on your smart phones as text messages, and even feed them into your Web site or blog.-- Great for quick-hitting, real-time alerts and announcements.-- And a lot of it is being done via mobile devices.Examples:A lot of news organizations are posting breaking news on Twitter before that news is available anywhere else.The earthquake in Haiti. There were people there, on the ground in Haiti, posting updates and photos via Twitter. And this was information that wasnt available anywhere else.Elections, the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the plane landing on the Hudson -- any type of breaking news event, youre likely to read about it first on Twitter, because the people on the scene become the reporters.

This is Mumbai in late 2008. Remember the terrorist attacks there?3

January 2009. The Miracle on the Hudson.4

This is Egypt earlier this year. Similar scenes have played out throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, in places like Tunisia and Libya.5

Most recently, theres Japan.6

#J_J_HelpMePhone lines were down throughout Japan, so people who find themselves in emergency situations are using a hashtag (#j_j_helpme) on Twitter to communicate. You wont be able to read much of it, but heres a look at that particular Twitter stream:7

So how is Twitter being used in a business sense?

Lets start with listening.8

Next, lets talk about connecting.9

How about sharing? Some might call that a form of learning.10

And actual conversation?11

Look around the profession. All of the regulators are there.12

All of the professions journalists are there.13

In fact, nearly all journalists PERIOD are there.14


Make sure you give WAY more than you take.15Twitter in the classroom

for extra credit!The concept is to have students thinking about accounting all the time! Dr. Steven Hornik, University of Central Florida up is Dr. Steven Hornik of the University of Central Florida. He uses Twitter in his Financial Accounting Class as a way of generating extra credit.

He has set up a Twitter account just for his course, and he sends out random extra credit questions throughout the week. He then awards extra credit to the first so many students who respond with the correct answer.16

And, color me impressed to find ALL of the Vail Resorts there and doing some really great things in Twitter.17

My point is this:You heard it earlier. Twitter is like a cocktail party. Treat it as such. Yes, theres an awful lot of stupid stuff on Twitter. Youre in control of what you see, though. Follow the right people, share some interesting stuff, respond, engage, connect in short, add value to the folks who are following you. If you do that, theyll add value to you.

The key steps:

First, sign up.Next, listen.Now, follow.Then engage.And only then, start tweeting.

18Resources:Twitter: twitter.comTweetDeck: Twhirl: HootSuite: Seesmic: Tweetchat: Twitter mobile:


Twitter in Plain English, from CommonCraft To use Twitter for Business (Part 1 of 3: 'Listening'), from AmazingVideoTours How To use Twitter for Business (Part 2 of 3: Engaging'), from AmazingVideoTours How To use Twitter for Business (Part 3 of 3: Tweeting'), from AmazingVideoTours Follow me at