The 'micro-blogging' website phenomenon Twitter (www.twitter.com)
has taken the online social media world by storm. With one of the
fastest growing online user communities, it seems the whole world
has gone to the birds.
But it's not just much-a-twitter-about-nothing. Unlike other
social media websites, the biggest group represented on Twitter
falls within the 30 to 50 year old age-bracket and, increasingly,
these individuals are using Twitter to meet like-minded folk, build
networks and promote their businesses.
The concept behind Twitter is simple: it is an online forum that
allows users to record their thoughts in up to 140 characters or
less by answering the question 'What are you doing?' Users follow
people they're interested in listening to, and vice-versa.
One such example is Christchurch-based online travel business
Entirely Kiwi. Founded in 2008 by travel industry veteran Vanessa
Forsyth, the business is based on the premise that people today are
more than capable of planning and booking their holidays online.
Entirely Kiwi gives them a place where they can do this easily,
cutting down online 'shopping time' for those planning a trip to
Several months ago the business joined the birds and began
'tweeting' through Twitter. Vanessa Forsyth says it was clear that
Twitter presented an opportunity to seek out potential clients,
build business relationships and share a passion for and knowledge
of New Zealand with the world.
Entirely Kiwi uses keyword searches to find people twittering
about an upcoming New Zealand holiday and sends them a short
message about products or services that could be of interest to
A social media phenomenon
Twitter has seen phenomenal growth over the past year, with user
numbers up 1,689 per cent from 100,000 in February 2008 to 1.78
million in February 2009. But many are still coming to terms with
the opportunities it presents.
Entirely Kiwi has been quick off the mark and has earned itself
a place at the world's first Twitter conference - TWTRCON SF 09 -
which will take place in San Francisco at the end of May.
"After stumbling across a well-known travel 'Twitterer' we
became a recognised as a referral base for New Zealand information
and services. This was the first step towards being invited to the
conference. The ability for people from around the world to speak
to someone who lives and breaths New Zealand proved popular," says
The conference will be entirely focused on business and the
potential Twitter has to help businesses reach and engage customers
online and influence opinions. Entirely Kiwi will supply a trip for
two to New Zealand as part of a charity auction at the
Vanessa Forsyth says businesses have to be prepared to change
with new technologies such as Twitter and the growth of social
"As technology grows and changes I think we'll see a lot of new
stuff coming through and the idea of having the ability to
instantly talk with someone in a country that your intending on
travelling to is a huge advantage for people."
What is Twitter?
At its simplest, Twitter is a mini-blog where you record your
thoughts or what you are up to in 140 characters or less.
How do I sign up?
Simply go to www.Twitter.com and sign up. It is an
easy-to-use, free service.
How many people use it?
Analysts estimate that there are 1.2 million active
users, posting more than 2.25 million tweets every day. It is
particularly popular in the UK (there are more Twitterers in London
than any other city in the world).
1. Find some people to follow. Use the "find people"
feature or search for subjects (go to www.search.twitter.com) that you might be
Check the profiles of people who are following others who you
follow. Then start posting your updates. Don't expect many to
follow you immediately. It will take some time and those you follow
do not automatically follow you.
2. Be short and sweet. Quality matters more than quantity when it
comes to 'tweeting', so don't use your 140 characters every time.
Keep it light and chatty. Some tweet ten times an hour, some ten
times a month. Tweet as often as you have something to say and your
network will build. Use www.TinyURL.com to turn long web addresses such
into this: http://tiny.cc/hzYBB
3. Observe the etiquette. If someone you follow posts an
interesting update or link - copy and paste it into your update box
with 'RT' (re-tweet) at the start and post it.
4. Reply to someone by putting '@' at the front of the name of the
person you are responding to. Even if they are not following you,
they are alerted to your post. Remember everyone can see these. If
you want to message someone privately put a 'D' or 'DM' in front of
the name and then your message.
5. Experiment. Twitter is a great platform but it is not very
user-friendly - try one of the applications that outside developers
have built: a favourite is Tweetdeck but there are also Twhirl and
Twitterific. These give you a stand-alone home page where you can
search Twitter and they provide instant URL shortening, @ replies
and re-tweeting, among other things.