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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twitter for Skeptics

By Aaron S. Robertson

Even though Twitter has been around for a while now, I still come across a lot of business professionals that have a hard time buying into it. "I don't get it", "What's the value in it?", and "What's it all about?" are common responses I hear from a lot of business people.

Following is my take on Twitter, for whatever it's worth. I was once skeptical about the whole Twitter scene, too, but have been warming up to it a lot more lately since starting to think about it in the ways I describe here.

Think of Twitter this way: it's like a massive search engine in and of itself. By "tweeting" something (like sharing a link, offering helpful advice, making a big announcement, etc.), you're feeding this search engine with unique and interesting content. And by taking it a step further and using the "#" symbol in your tweets, immediately followed by a word or term (all together with no spaces), you're telling this search engine how to categorize your tweet, so when other Twitter users search the site using the keywords or terms you labeled your tweet with, they're likely to stumble across it. You can certainly assign your tweets more than one search term, but remember that you only have 140 characters available per tweet. And if you have a link to share, the link will eat up a good-sized portion of those available characters at your disposal.

Now, Twitter is definitely a lot more than just a search engine. There's the whole social dimension that brings further value to using the site - these are real, actual people (unlike the computerized search bots or "spiders" of traditional search engines) who are sending direct messages to one another, who are "following" each other, etc.

But for Twitter skeptics looking to test the water by cautiously putting one foot in, seeing it for the time being just as a big search engine that you can really leave your mark on, a search engine that's utilized by millions upon millions of people around the world at all hours of the day and night - that should be enough for you to buy in. Millions of people are using this search engine, just like they're using Google, Yahoo, and Bing, to find information on products and services; they're looking for interesting blogs and other reading material; they're looking for jobs; they're conducting research; they're looking for networking and business opportunities.

The question to ask yourself now is : are you being found in this search engine?

Are you avoiding using Twitter? If so, why? What sorts of questions or concerns do you have about it? Share your take in the Comments section below.

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