Monday, January 31, 2011

A Twitter Tale & A (Free) Giveaway

If there’s one thing common among all the Twitter skeptics out there, it is this: They all ask, ‘Who cares what you had for lunch?’

If I could make lunch out of it, Twitter skepticism would feed many hungry mouths. But skepticism doesn’t feed anything. Okay, except for maybe fear, distrust, doubt and suspicion. So I thought perhaps I’d share my own experiences of how I use Twitter and what I gain from it to quell some of that skepticism. So here goes:

1) Promote my work and my skills
For me, Twitter is a great channel to share my work and interests – it’s a way to build my online brand. I use Twitter to not only share my blog posts but also share other compelling content that would interest others. Overall, I find it a great interactive network to spread the word about who I am, what I do and what my professional expertise and interests lie in. On occasion, it's also helped me find freelance projects to work on. 

2) Connect with other communications professionals
I’ve always been proactive about networking and building new connections. But one challenge I always faced was continuing the conversation beyond the one-time meeting at a conference or event. Though I usually followed-up over email or sent an invitation to connect over LinkedIn, I found it tough to sustain the relationship. Sending emails every once-in-a-while just seemed too intrusive. With Twitter, I’ve found the perfect solution. It’s now easy for me to stay on the radar of people I follow -- by commenting on or retweeting what others say. It’s a great way to stay connected -- minus all the awkwardness.

I also participate in the weekly #solopr chats (every Wednesday 1-2 pm EST.) where solo PR professionals get together to discuss trends and issues relating to PR and working independently. I’ve connected offline with some of the connections I made over the solopr chat and even turned to them for help and advice. I also chime in on other chats from time-to-time such as the #PR20 and #SEOchat – all of which helps me learn from others and make new connections.

3) Keep up with latest trends
Twitter is much like a personalized RSS feed – I receive updates from those whom I choose to follow and can keep track of latest developments in the PR/communications/social media field. An amazing variety of content is shared on Twitter every day and this gives me an opportunity to learn from the best in the field and keep track of latest trends, events, webinars and news that I may otherwise have missed.

4) Make friends
I’ve ‘met’ a wide variety of extremely talented, interesting, highly motivated, cool and generally awesome people from all over the world, over Twitter. Some of my Twitter friends are now my Facebook friends, and I’ve actually met (face-to-face) some of my local Twitter friends at Tweetups and other events.

5) Preserve my sanity
Moving from a country where your neighbor not only knows what you cooked for dinner but how many people attended your dinner party (India) to a country where most neighbors don’t know your name (United States) can be an uprooting experience. I don’t mean that in a bad way -- I love the fact that there is so much respect for other people’s space and privacy here but all said and done, it can be an unsettling and even (shall I say the word?) a lonely experience.

At the risk of sounding a little loony, I find Twitter has often served as a channel to preserve my sanity. There’s something strangely therapeutic about broadcasting your thoughts (and being careful about what you broadcast, of course) out in the Twitterverse, even if nobody is listening or responding. It’s why people handwrote entries in personal diaries they didn’t allow anyone else to read. Y’all know what I mean?

Sure, there are people who tweet what they had for lunch and other seemingly inane details of their lives. But let’s face it -- don’t people send random email forwards? Should that make us stop using email? A lot also depends on what interests you and your audience. I have food blogger friends who live, breathe, eat and write food -- and sure enough, they’re quite interested in sharing and learning about what they and others are having for lunch. Like I said, a lot depends on what interests you and your audience.

My food blogger friend @sabera posted this on Twitpic. 

THE GIVEAWAY: So that’s my Twitter tale. Share yours to enter the free giveaway. Leave a comment below on how you use Twitter. Or share some Twitter tips. If you’re not on Twitter, tell us why. The giveaway closes on February 15 at midnight, EST and is only open to current U.S. residents.

One randomly selected commenter will win a copy of Real-time Marketing and PR by David M. Scott (Read my post about the book here.) If you’ve already read the book, I can offer you Unmarketing by Scott Stratten instead. If you’ve read Unmarketing too, then you don’t need a free book. (I kid, I would be happy to work something else out within the same price range.)

A few rules and other details:
1. You need to leave a comment to participate in the giveaway.
2. I reserve the right to delete spam-like comments, which will not qualify to participate in the giveaway.
3. The giveaway is only open to current U.S. residents and includes the cost of shipping.
4. The giveaway is not sponsored by anyone other than the author of this blog.
5. I will announce the winner of the giveaway on this blog and via email on or after February 16.
6. I will assign a number to each commenter and use the random number generator ( to pick out the winner. I’ll also post a screenshot of the result.
7. The winner will have two weeks to send me their mailing address after I contact him/her. 

P.S. I love being praised and being agreed with, but hey, I know you can do better than only saying "great post" or "I agree with you" in your comment. So don’t be a lazy commenter -- share something that will help me and others learn. Thanks in advance! 

February 16. Addendum: Andddd.... the winner of the book giveaway is... Moksh Juneja. Congratulations! 

 (Note: The first commenter was not eligible to participate and hence the number range is from 2-12.)

A big thank you to each of you who participated and contributed so much to the discussion. Thanks also to all my friends who helped promote the giveaway.


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Twitter is great for connecting with experts in your field, whom you would not otherwise have access to. Unlike Facebook, Twitter supports open communication -- you can follow or reply to anyone, even if you don't know them. All this stuff can get addictive -- I actually wrote a blog post on that:
    I'm constantly amazed by the variety and quality of work that I am exposed to on Twitter - it definitely keeps me on my toes and motivates me to do better. About the competition, I know what you mean, but it's best to learn what we can, be ourselves and have fun doing what we're doing!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Leema. And for sharing your own Twitter experiences. Being a public medium, it does make sense to be a bit more discreet on Twitter!

  3. Twitter goes beyond the individuals cause it helps in building societies with no geographic boundaries. Specially when people have panic tweets, 26/11 tweets, Earthquake tweets, etc. Help pours from across boundaries - that is when Twitter comes most handy.

    At an individual level, people tweet for personal gratification of receiving a response but more importantly, people feel that there are others who also share the view, opinion or experience immaterial if it is good, bad or ugly.

  4. I do not think the rules of the contest permit me to be eleigile for the prize I'm not a resident of the Us but it is a pleasure to read this post and I want to share the three reasons I read twitter.

    a) It is the best among all the 5 social networks I have used (orkut, linked in, ryze, facebook and T) when it comes to user friendliness and utility

    b) It is simple; besides being followed and following you can only tweet, retweet, comment on someone's tweet

    c) It helps me break the ice with people I would not have dared to have a conversation with

    Farida - thanks for this blog that has so much to learn from

  5. Hi Farida,

    Thanks for the encouraging words - I do feel much better. Yes, it is something that takes getting used to but I guess the only way to do it is put myself out there and do it repeatedly. I hope to do just that.

    And as for ‘talking to myself’ – I can handle that..i don’t it all the time :)



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