For the Trade Book Review, I chose the book “Twitterville,” written by Shel Israel.
What better way to get to know a man all about social media than by checking out his own social media outlets. Shel Israel is ahead of the game. If you check out his LinkedIn profile, you will see Israel’s career including an author, a keynote speaker, and a mentor for social media. It also notes that he has interviewed over four hundred people for his two books, as well as other contributions. Oh, and if you see his Twitter, he is also a nice guy.
With coauthor, Robert Scoble (@Scobleizer), “ Naked Conversations” is all about the world of blogging. Both live in Silicon Valley, and have a passion for techonlogy and social medias. Much like the idea “Twitterville” gives about its microblogging, “Naked Conversations” is about how blogs can benefit people in their companies, and teaches even those that think it’s all Greek to them that using blogs is possible, and understandable. Given their Twitter profiles, I can generally conclude that these guys are pretty good at what they do.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Northeastern, as well as a Masters in Public Communications from Boston University. As a native rom New Beford, Massachusetts, he is also a fan of the Boston Red Sox (he said so himself in “Twitterville”), which to me makes him an even more nice guy since I am originally from Boston. He is a senior fellow to the Society of New Communicaitons Research. His public relations agency, Shel Israel Public Relations (SIPR) is a communications firm based on helping startup companies.
I have learned so much about the benefits of Twitter by reading “Twitterville”. In fact, after reading I tweeted that I would get back in the game. Twitter has so much to offer companies, in fact they are missing out by not having an account. In this day and time, Twitter has been the fastest growing social media, and will continue to grow at an exponential rate because of the possibilities it offers not only to the individual but to companies small and large.
Twitter began in 2006 when Odeo (a social media site) cofounders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, also cofounder of Xanga.com, along with Odeo’s software architect, Jack Dorsey, needed a way to keep in touch with their employees in an efficient and simple way. With the basic question, “What are you doing?”, Twitter was designed. The 140 character tweets were alotted to keep things brief, and this became know as microblogging. However, Twitter was a Web 2.0 software that was open to anyone who wanted to join, and it was free. So the three gentlemen realized that it could be used for this like connecting with old friends, or finding out what someone had for lunch.
The correct year was 2007 at the South By Southwest convention held in Austin, Texas primarily for its promising night life. Williams, Stone, and Dorsey were aware of the high profile blogging and social media elite would be in attendance. Their approach to the convention, they let the live tweets run on giant monitors in the hallways where the convention was held so attendees could watch. It didn’t take long for people to join only to tell others outside SXSW to join. People were tweeting about where the hot parties were being hosted on the convention nights, that others could read the updates so fast they stopped in their tracks and headed to the party that was tweeted about having free drinks. Twitter had become an overnight sensation!
It didn’t take long before businesses small and large joined the bandwagon. However, they realized it benefited them in many ways, especially customer service. Twitter made relationships with customers improve by ten fold because company’s customers could be reached at all times. A representative from a company is able to communicate with their customer whether it is a question, a problem, a complaint, or a comment. Customers like knowing that they are talking to someone who cares about their business. In most cases, Twitter has been able to help companies resolve a conflict. When a customer posts a negative tweet, that company’s representative can act fast to make sure that rumors don’t spread further than a matter of hours about the company’s services. Where it once used to take a week to resolve a problem, now a half day’s work can clear up what could ruin a company’s image. Also, it is a good way for customers to be appreciated when they happen to tweet about the positives.
That’s right, businesses globally learned that they could enhance customer service through the usage of Twitter. A regular customer was running late one morning and tweeted the owner of a café, Coffee Grindz (@coffeegrindz) in Houston Texas. with his order. He was in the drive thru window shortly after with his breakfast. In fact, Dell Computer Company was the first to open a store (@DellOutlet), to get the good deals on computers and other Dell products through Twitter so their customers could act fast. In fact, I forgot the name of the café mentioned in the book so I tweeted Shel Israel himself to ask the quick question. Awaiting his reply, I was tweeted: maslowbeer ﾊﾊ @ samonahan @ shelisrael name was coffee groundz (@ coffeegroundz ) I ordered a eggs, cheese and sausage chipotle wrap with grilled veg/salsa I was so surprised! I had never experienced that kind of connection on Twitter yet. Israel tweeted to my reply as well and I thanked him for inspiring a second shot at Twitter for me. He’s glad to have me back.
Companies learned how to listen and create better relationships with their customers. Again, the point of marketing was based on customer base. Now, customers has much more control and sway of which brands people should invest in or not. By tweeting poorly about one company that they had a bad experience with, their friends would see this and even retweet (repost that person’s original tweet), until the message spread all over…even globally. A company rep is now able to jump right into the conversation and do whatever it takes to solve the problem. Most of the time, just by listening in the first place, they are able to keep them as a customer.
Twitter has helped humanize social media. When the people at Dell invested in “lurking” (as Israel puts it) through Twitter, they realized it is easier to relate to a customer when that person knows they are talking to an employee, not just a general logo. So they coined the @(Name)atDell so tweeters knew who they were talking with.
Israel had several interesting stories about how Twitter has played a big roll in commercial airlines. The first one dealing with customer service. An American Airlines passenger had boarded the plane with her family when the flight was delayed because of the weather. As the time passed, passengers grew impatient. They were only given small cups of water, and were not allowed to leave the plane. After several hours of sitting on the tarmac, they were allowed back in the terminal but told not to go far. Quickly, they were ushered back on the plane, only to wait on the tarmac for a total of seven hours! And they weren’t even spared food. However this tweeter had been posting updates while waiting, that it attracted a news crew. The airport and airline company were embarrassed and unprepared for the media, and hardly issued an apology. On the contrary, it was Southwest Airlines to the rescue when one of their customers they were following tweeted unhappily about his flight being canceled. They fixed that problem by offering him his next flight free.
One morning, while regularly riding the ferry across the Hudson River, a man witnessed the US Airways flight destined for North Carolina crash into the Hudson River. Little did he know how is morning would turn out. His name is Janis Krums (@Jkrums), and he snapped the famous picture from his iPhone and proceeded to post the picture via TwitPic. A news station in the local area caught glimpse of the picture and Krums’ tweets about the crash and fled to the scene. The ferry picked up the passengers from the sinking plane, and Krums gave someone his jacket, and let another borrow his phone. When the news crew arrived, he was the first to be interviewed because of his tweets.
The Obama Administration, or at least someone who has been hired through the administration has joined the Twitter race. Now by following Barack Obama via Twitter I am able to find out the latest in the White House. In fact in the 2008 election, Obama was able to reach a larger demographic through Twitter. Part of him being on the fastest growing social media definitely helped influence the vote for many. However, much like how customers like to talk to businesses, people are more interested in their voices being heard. While being on Twitter enables the administration to keep track of what the population of followers are tweeting about, it is pretty obvious that our president doesn’t have the time to tweet. But whoever it is that lets us know the latest on the health care plan, they are doing a good job of keeping up the following. Many politicians are on board with Twitter, since it is after all one of the fastest ways to communicate. I mean now not only newspapers are slowly losing business, television news stations keep track of Twitter to find out when the next citizen will report the story they can get on tape.
Fundraising on Twitter has taken great strides for the greater good. When a tweeter was struggling with biopsies from her cancerous tumors in her breast, the only way to easy the pain was a frozen bag of peas. A TwitPic inspired another follower who was in the fight against breast cancer started the Frozen Pea Fund, in efforts to raise money to help fund this woman’s battle. Supporters of the cause were asked to change their default picture to something “pea related”, called peavatars. Each Friday when this was done, they were asked to donate a little money to help the fight. Also, Twestival made breaking records in the efforts of bringing clean drinking water to those who were in need such as countries like Uganda. On a day in February 2009, people worldwide held events raising money to hopefully drill wells in countries that had no source of clean water. At an event in Los Angeles, an easy $20,000 was raised.
As more and more companies are utilizing Twitter, they are improving their opportunites of a broader customer base. Eventually with the move to social medias, most businesses will be recognized as global. The only problem with Twitter is not joining. So many people are networking, reaching out to those in the same businesses, those with the same interests, or just to carry on conversation about reality television shows. Either way, it is essential that people of all ages in all fields, even plumbers, understand the importance of social medias. So many people use social media for topics across the board, even when shopping for shoes. Oh, and the fact that this Twitter thing only took about two weeks to create…that is truly a surprise.
I don’t think I could have learned any more than I did by reading “Twitterville”. Israel has opened my eyes to the truly endless possibilities offered to me at my fingertips just by indulging in this social media phenomena. I have learned so much that I was able to educate my roommate, at midnight in our apartment while waiting to register for next semester’s courses, on how to use Twitter. Within a couple of tweet examples, and how to search she was up and running. Little does she know how much this site will be able to help her when she is looking for a marketing career. Twitter has opened so many doors that I don’t think Williams, Stone, and Dorsey were prepared. I would have liked to know what Israel thinks about the future in social media, where he predicts the road will take those who travel down it. I feel that through his studies on Twitter, I have learned so much about the community Twitter has become.
I would have to say that students today would be naïve not to pick up “Twitterville”. This is a fast-growing online community that even now is considered at job in some companies. Yes, companies now hire someone to tweet about their upcoming events, as well as take care of customer service. But it is not as easy, that person has to be credible and tech savvy. Students should not wait another minute to get involved in Twitter, and if you need help “Twitterville” is your new bible. Last spring for a course, we were required to begin a Twitter account. I was confused by the format of the site and how things work, stuck in my Facebook ways. However, after reading “Twitterville”, I learned what I was missing. Even through this presentation have I experienced the beauty of the network. I hope that all students are smart enough to utilize Twitter, and those other medias to come, so they can enhance their knowledge, and go on to help whatever company it is they want to be a part of grow to be something even better.