Use Twitter to Communicate with Community Groups
Thursday, June 4, 2009; 12:18 AM
All anyone can talk about these days is Twitter, so let's talk Twitter. I'll be blunt: not a fan. I think it's a major time-suck without a lot of practical value. And I find the syntax both annoying and confusing. (RT @justrick #cranky. WTF?)
I'm not the only one, either: See Why Most Twitter Users Give Up.
That said, Twitter can be a worthwhile tool when used wisely. For example, I really like ExecTweets, a Web site (with corresponding iPhone app) that aggregates the Twitter chatter (i.e. "tweets") of top business executives. Very informative and educational.
Even better, I think Twitter offers an excellent way to communicate with small, local groups. For example, suppose you coach a kids' soccer team. To notify parents of a field change, rained-out practice, or the like, normally you'd have to make a dozen phone calls. With Twitter, all you'd have to do is tweet.
On the business side, a sales manager could tweet an update regarding product pricing or a new promotion, reaching his/her entire sales team with just one quick message.
Granted, you can accomplish the same thing with e-mail, but that lacks Twitter's SMS-like immediacy. Here you can send an update to dozens, or even hundreds, of people right from your cell phone.
To get started with something like this, all you have to do is create a Twitter account that's dedicated to your group ("NYCSoccerStars," for example), then invite the appropriate people to "follow." Encourage them to enable updates via SMS so any newsworthy tweets get delivered quickly.
You may have to educate your group a bit, as Twitter can be confusing. Steer them to this excellent Twitter-for-beginners slideshow.
Personally, I'd love to see my kids' school create a Twitter account, as the service would be ideal for blasting out snow-day notifications and other important news. In the meantime, I use Twitter to notify readers of my Cheapskate blog of new and/or time-sensitive deals.
What do you think? Are these good examples of "practical Twitter," or are there better ways to communicate with groups?