Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My True Life Twitter Tale

Many people who aren't on Twitter don't understand what the fuss is about. What does it do? What is it good for? It's one of those things that's difficult to understand unless you use it.

But the other day I found myself in a unique situation that illustrated to me the value of this service.

As the president and chief bottle-washer of Digital Chips, Inc., I like to attend the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio Conference whenever possible. Most of our business comes from public radio stations, and these are also the broadcasters that are most likely to be interested in the classical music we carry at DCD Records.

Scheduling conflicts (both personal and professional) forced me to remain at home this time.

One of the attendees, a colleague at a public radio station who I follow on Twitter started posting (or "tweeting" as it's known) updates about the conference on their Twitter feed. As is the current trend, the tweets were hashtagged for easy identification -- that is, the tweet had a word marked with a pound sign (#amppr09) that makes it easy to search for all tweets on that subject.

One of the sessions I really wanted to go to was the one about audio streaming. A representative from the SoundExchange was there to give a talk and answer questions. The attendee tweeted the talking points as the presenter went through them, and suddenly I was part of the conversation.

Now in between tweets I was still working away on the project in front of me. But whenever I received an update I would read it quickly (140 characters is very scannable), and fire off a comment or question.

Here's the payoff. One of the questions I asked my correspondent they, in turn, asked the presenter -- and tweeted the answer. Although I didn't attend the conference, I was getting the basic info at the same time as the attendees, and participating (albeit by proxy) as well.

The exchange helped me understand the SoundExchange guidelines a little better, and hopefully, my question gave others in the room additional insight into the issue. The New York Times recently published an article that summed it up. Twitter? It's what you make it.

Unlike some folks, I'm not much for tweeting about what I had for dinner, or when I use the restroom. But as a source of professional information and networking, it's decidedly one of the most important tools in this small business owner's arsenal.

Because that's what I've made Twitter be.

- Ralph

Day 296 of the WJMA Web Watch. (Many broadcasters twitter, too. Of course, they're usually the ones with functioning websites to send traffic to.)

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