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March 8th, 2009

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11:13 pm - Twitter: Zero to amazing in 6 months
A lot of people just do not get Twitter. For quite some time, I was one of them. I enjoyed the stories like the one about how a guy got arrested by the police in Egypt, Twittered the word “Arrested”, and got his friends spurred into action to get him released. But, I just could not see what use it could be to me.

That started changing in Michael Stephens's Web 2.0 class, that I took last fall. The whole class signed up for it and talked to each other on it, and that was great. And we still do sometimes! So once you reach a certain threshold of people, it's very useful. But outside of that, I know very few people on it, so I still wasn't a big user.

Events would soon intervene to show me how powerful it can be for professional purposes. I work for the business association on Lake Street (Minneapolis), and as part of that we launched a new website at the beginning of this year, www.visitlakestreet.com. I am of course a compulsive checker of its Web traffic, and one day I was shocked to see a huge spike in traffic, hundreds of hits in one day and a big number again the day after. A little detective work pointed me back to the source: Twitter! Meet Minneapolis (the visitors' association) tweeted our website to the world, and locals reacted very favorably. They clicked on it, they retweeted it, they blogged it, they commented on it. One guy even put it through a business he's trying to start called 3rd party feedback so he gave us some free advice on how we might improve it.

Simply put, wow! That plus my previous Web 2.0 class experience convinced me that I should really look into doing this for myself. So I did! I created a new job-centered account (http://twitter.com/VisitLakeStreet ), put up a few tweets, then started finding select people to follow, on the theory that most people like the attention and would follow me back. I found people in the MSP area who mentioned Lake Street or Lake Street businesses in their tweets. This did indeed work and I felt like I did a good job at getting it off the ground?

And then? Then it took the heck off. 54 updates and less than one month later, I am stunned by how well it's going. I have 130 followers now, and it's a strange day when at least one new person doesn't start following. I don't have to find them anymore now, they find me. Sometimes people just starting out, with only 7 accounts they're following, have mine as one of them, along with Governor Pawlenty and Mayor Rybak. Some other things I've done in just a few weeks on Twitter:

Had people spontaneously recommend going to our website and following my account
Recommended Lake St. restaurants for Twitterers to go to – they asked me!
Put out a call for people to send me a testimonial of their favorite place on Lake Street that I would put on the site, and one did, with more on the way
Had people retweet my messages about stuff going on on Lake, spreading the message
Inspired another place to start Twittering – the Midtown Global Market (http://twitter.com/MidtownGlobal ), though they're still getting the hang of it. They're getting better.

To see how well it's going, you can just look at Twitter's search page for my account name (http://search.twitter.com/search?page=1&q=@visitlakestreet ). I am still stunned. We have an audacious marketing plan this year that will spend thousands of dollars, but Twitter is already reaching hundreds of people for absolutely no cost. Like I said, wow. I am now a true Twitter convert.

Now, if I could only get anyone to work with to understand what the heck Twitter is and why I'm suddenly so smitten with it! (Seriously, I do think this is the biggest drawback of an emerging 2.0 technology like this, most “normal” people will have no idea what you're on about.)

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
Twitter is very addictive! We just set up two accounts for our broadcast areas but as nobody has announced it on air yet, we're only being followed by other ABC stations :p
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Start adding people who mention things related to your broadcast areas, it works wonders. ;)
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
Yay for twitter. Do you have a non work account?

I would also be willing to make up a quick document/power point to explain Twitter to your coworkers- experience and all that.
Date:March 10th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
Looks like I'm still a "normal" person then ;)
Twitter: Zero to amazing in 6 months - Stream of Consciousness

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