Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Value of Twitter, Part 2: The Professional

The Value of Twitter Series:
Part 1: The Personal
Part 2: The Professional
Part 3: The Informational
Part 4: Join the Conversation
Part 5: An Annotated Conversation

If you want to understand Twitter, think of a cocktail party. In part one of this series, I talked about the value I find in Twitter on a personal level. This would be the equivalent of making light conversation with friends and acquaintances. But sometimes a cocktail party can be more about networking and make business connections than socializing – and so can Twitter.

Like networking face-to-face, it’s important on Twitter to strike a balance between self-promotion and genuine interaction. From a professional standpoint, I use Twitter to do the following:
  1. Promote our company’s activities
  2. Discover and interact with professional colleagues who can help us, and whom we can help
  3. Develop a resource for information
So how do I do that? Well, I actually have two Twitter accounts. @ralphgraves primarily deals with my personal tweets, and @DCDRecords is the Twitter feed for our record label, DCD Records.

Professional tweets in a professional feed
I use the @DCDRecords feed to promote the activities of DCD Records. Normally our tweets concern

  1. Notices of our Friday sales and other special offers
  2. Notices when new episode of the “DCD Classical ‘Cast” podcast is posted
  3. Notices when new releases are added to the DCD Records website
  4. Notices when updates and additional features are added to our website, such as sound samples, new artwork, etc.
  5. Reminders that we have a Facebook Fan Page and a MySpace page as well
All of the above, of course, include a link to the pages I’m referring to. And yes, I’m looking at the traffic for those links. I also like to go a little behind the scenes and share vignettes of what it’s like to run (almost single-handedly) a small record label as eccentric as ours. I’ll post about writing podcast scripts, formatting web pages, exciting new projects, all kinds of things.

As yet, we’ve not received much feedback, but should some of our followers offer up questions or opinions, I’ll be more than happy to start a conversation. And that conversation doesn’t have to end in a hard sell, either. Just as you can form an opinion about a person’s character through conversation, I believe you can do the same with a business -- especially a small one. That’s why our little label (read: me) continues to tweet away.

Professional tweets in a personal feed
I also do some professional tweeting at @ralphgraves. The goals are different than those for DCD Records. On my personal feed, my goal is to build my own personal brand. I do that by posting the following:

  1. Notices about a new blog post to C.E. Conversations. If you want to know who I am, and what I know about, this is a good place to start!
  2. My radio program on WTJU. This serves two functions. I want to raise awareness of the station within the online community, and document my knowledge and experience in radio.
  3. Notices about updates to the “Gamut” playlist. This is the playlist for the above-mentioned radio show. It’s a pretty unique program, predicated on the rule that I will only air a particular classical work once. I just finished show #851, and I still haven’t run out of music to play. The Gamut Playlist site documents that journey.
  4. Participating in collegial conversations. It’s not just about me. If other broadcasters are tweeting about an issue, I’ll join in. If you’re at a party, you don’t want to hear the other person’s list of accomplishments – you want a back-and-forth conversation. Me, too.

Other advantages? When our company attended the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference this summer, we used Twitter to our advantage. I tweeted commentary about the sessions I attended and picked up several followers in the process. I tweeted invitations for a get-together at our booth in the exhibit hall – and people showed up. All good from a business standpoint, you’ll have to agree.

And here’s something else. There was a professional conference I wasn’t able to attend earlier in the year. I really wanted to be in a certain session, as the information presented was critical to our business. One of the folks I follow was there and tweeted during the session. I raised an objection to one of the things being said, my colleague read it, and asked the question to the presenter, and then tweeted the answer. And this conversation wasn’t just between the two of us. All the other professionals in the field who were following the thread got the information, too.

Final advantage – I follow several fairly prominent journalists and podcasters in the tech field. I’ve commented on their tweets, and have received some responses. And in a few cases, been asked for input. Without Twitter, it is extremely unlikely that any of this would have happened.

So yes. I personally find professional value in Twitter. And if you think creatively about your business, you should, too.

- Ralph

Day 182 of the WJMA Podwatch.


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