Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 16, 2008 3:10 PM

Twitter For Business Works

Twitter is an essential business tool if you build community and trust.

Most companies can't see beyond, "how do we sell consumers more stuff with Twitter." If that's the net result you're looking for, it will be a huge waste of time (in the short term).

True story:

I was heading to Winnipeg to speak about Personal Branding at a Power Within event (headlined by Anthony Robbins) on Wednesday. When I confirmed my flight in on Tuesday morning, I was asked by the Advertising Association of Winnipeg if I would like to do an event on Digital Marketing. I was fine with doing the keynote presentation so long as they understood that I would be flying in on the same day and "anything" can happen. "Anything" did happen. Heavy fog in Montreal forced a two hour flight delay. I knew I would either be cutting it way too close or if things persisted, I would miss the event entirely.

Not good.

I hopped on Twitter and tweeted: "need help: anyone know anyone who talks on the subject of Web 2.0 and Social Media and is based in Winnipeg?"

This was at 7:53 am.

I have my online social networks set-up so that when I post to Twitter it also updates my Facebook status with the same message.

By 8:33 am, Jonathan Markoff from 3 Hats Digital suggested I connect with Joel Parent at IC Group.

After a quick Google search, I found Joel's Blog and also connected to him via Facebook.

Success.

Six Pixels of Separation lives - we are all connected.

The event was due to end at 1:30 pm. I landed at 1 pm. The organizers announced to the attendees what had happened and by the time I had arrived at the venue, Joel was just finishing up his presentation and I was able to do mine.

I didn't "know" Joel. Joel didn't "know" me. But we knew each other. We both know the value in getting up in front of a group of advertisers to discuss the many changes that are taking place in the advertising. We both knew that the only way to push these ideas forward is to collaborate and share. We both knew that these channels really do work for business.

I don't know if Joel's message resonated with the audience. I don't know if mine did either. I do know that they got a live, living and breathing case study on how fast, effective and powerful these channels really are.

I'm sure Joel will get some business out of that crowd, and I managed to save the reputation of Twist Image and my speaking efforts by finding an able replacement and back-up at the very last minute.

None of this would have happened were it not for Twitter and these online social channels. Had I not spent the time in Twitter (and on Facebook) building my community, providing value and connecting, there would have been nothing but a busy signal at the other end of that line when I needed to make that emergency call.

Instead, Twitter was the most powerful business tool and business building channel I've seen in a long while.

Yes, the economy stinks. Yes, things are going to change. And, when things change - like they will - who do you think you can count on to help you through it?

Community.

Do you still think Twitter and Facebook are a huge time suck for business?

(special thanks to Joel for helping out. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me and Joel is an amazing community citizen. I should also apologize to Tracy and the attendees of the event for the Advertising Association of Winnipeg. No one can control the weather, but I am still deeply sorry for the delay).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Mark Evans
    Mitch Joel

    The key to using Twitter and Facebook is determining how you want to use it, what you want to get out of it, and how much time is required to achieve these goals. Often, companies and individuals charge into something new like Twitter without thinking about whether it's offer enough value - however you want to define value - to make their time on it worthwhile. If you have a plan, Twitter and Facebook can be effective tools.

    Reply
  • Posted by Chad Richards
    Mitch Joel

    Twitter can be great, but I wouldn't say it's "essential." Plus (IMHO) it really depends on the industry you're in. For guys like us in social media and IT it's great, because probably 50% of the 2 million Twitter users are in this field right now, but for others maybe not so much. @chadrichards

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Similar experience here. If I was trolling twitter in an attempt to get chiropractic clients I'd likely piss off a lot of people real quick. Instead, it's where I get ideas, share ideas, and keep in touch with like minded folk.

    In May I answered a tweet seeking someone that knows about online reviews. I responded and 2 weeks later was featured in USA Today (online and in print).

    I like the ROI on that "time suck". :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Rob Cotter
    Mitch Joel

    Twitter is a great tool to connect, network, and engage in B2B and B2C spaces. Kept my comment under 140 characters. ;)

    Reply
  • Posted by LJ Jones
    Mitch Joel

    Cool story on how twitter saved the day. I agree, social media is a wonderful business tool. I would say that Twitter and Facebook are valuable business tools, not because of the technology, but because of the value and participation that you contributed to the community. Without you contributing in a meaningful, beneficial way, social media wouldn't have any value. It would just be a waste of time or worthless piece of technology. That's what brands need to understand, social media is about meaningful participation and contribution.

    Reply
  • Posted by brianlburns
    Mitch Joel

    agreed. twitter is a fantastic networking tool - not only for social interaction, but for business relationships that grow out of these interactions. it's not a place to get sales, it's a place to make friends (that may or may not lead to sales later).

    now that we have the tool, and we have the community starting to form around it... the challenge becomes educating businesses about the tool (and about how to use it well). this post helps.

    Reply
  • Posted by Deborah Hinton
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch you've hit the nail on the head - again! Fab example. Wished I could have helped you out. I can't wait for my first client to embrace enterprise microblogging as part of their overall strategy for employees. Think it can change the way relationships are built, information gets shared and work gets done internally. And, the first CEO that starts using microblogging on a regular basis will soon know who's listening - if anyone - and what value their bringing internally.

    Curious - Does anyone know of a CEO who's using microblogging internally? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Posted by theWeir
    Mitch Joel

    It's all about the community - and the SPoS! Great story and great to hear such a positive outcome - maybe some of the attendees at the will join the conversation and we can find out how it worked out for them!

    I think it helps that you are not precious about being the voice of authority on this space - there's loads of great stuff out there and the community is all about sharing, right?!

    Reply
  • I was watching on the sidelines rooting for a positive outcome. Great news and excellent case study for us all to reference.

    Good Job Mitch

    Rosh

    Reply
  • Posted by Elliott
    Mitch Joel

    wow, time to get a blackberry and actively use twitter! great post!

    Reply
  • Posted by Shannon
    Mitch Joel

    I was watching on the sidelines as well and was happy to see the outcome!

    I was quite fascinated by how it turned out and was delighted to read the full story. I've been using it as a case study example to show my clients and colleagues how Twitter really is an effective tool.

    Cheers!
    Shannon Morton
    APEX Public Relations

    Reply
  • Posted by Gilles Arbour
    Mitch Joel

    Love that story! Super post - it will be sent @everyone as a great example of social networking in action. In real-time. Almost.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeff P
    Mitch Joel

    Because of Twitter I'm a blogger of Chris Brogan's DadoMatic; I've twittered with Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, with Albert Maruggi of Marketing Edge, and many, many more. Twitter can be a bother, but only if you can't turn it off. Otherwise it's a great resource and relationship builder.

    Reply
  • Posted by Laura P Thomas
    Mitch Joel

    The variety of ways businesses can use Twitter are multitude and I'm proud to see how my own company, Dell, has expanded and experimented beyond our first @DellOutlet twitter account (which is still proving very beneficial to the business).

    I also had a personal experience similar to yours when traveling to an event. I got stuck in an airport on my way to an event and tweeted my frustration, only to have a twitter friend who was already at the event offer assistance! I shared the full story at http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2008/01/15/41273.aspx because I thought it was a great illustration of the power of this social network.

    ~LPT

    Reply
  • Posted by Amod Munga
    Mitch Joel

    Funnily enough, I blogged about this not so long ago...in a local context of course.

    Down here in South Africa, Twitter has had a relatively slow uptake. The tech-savvy and social-media-aware folks are the ones populating the community. And the major local newspapers have seen the value of it so you can receive breaking news via Twitter on your mobile web. Unfortunately, mobile carrier rates are punitive so not many people have opted for the text-update function.

    The possibilities are still untapped for the local market (only one restaurant has - sporadically - used the service as a marketing tool; of course a lot of the local Twitter community frequents that restaurant off the back of that), but as you say Mitch "Most companies can't see beyond, 'how do we sell consumers more stuff with Twitter.' "

    Reply
  • Posted by Johnny Kien
    Mitch Joel

    I just read an article that may be of interest on the power of social media. http://www.springwise.com/nonprofit_social_cause/making_medicine_as_ubiquitous/
    Basically there was a movement some odd years ago to help bring basic medicines for people that need them the most. The problem was distribution. The solution was to use the same distribution channel as Coca-Cola as you can virtually get a Coke anywhere in the world. The organizer couldn't receive enough support or attention to realize his goals. Now fast forward to today and with the help of social media, the movement was born...again now with the support of Coca-Cola. The organizer had a one to many conversation that wasn't possible before.

    Reply
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