Posts Tagged ‘microblogging’

Tips on Using Twitter

Thursday, February 5th, 2009


Twitter is both addictive and inescapable. I’m always talking with fellow Tweeters I know to figure out how to use it best (like by keeping up with friends and colleagues) without having it take over my every waking minute (like by reading every post about what someone’s eating for lunch).

Paul Boag from writes a nice post on Smashing Magazine’s blog that has a few tips on how to use it well.

Oh, and if you’re not already, you can follow me on Twitter too.

Top Five Jargon Terms

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Wood Scrabble Tiles

I like to think I'm fluent in English, being born and raised in America and all. But sometimes I feel like I'm learning a new language: technospeak. Every industry is rich with its own jargon, but because so many people use the Internet, the technology industry's jargon frustratingly works its way into common speak (remember when we all laughed about the word "blog"?). You don't need to know what all this terminology means (like undercooked spaghetti not all of it will stick), but here are what I consider the top five most important tech terms that are worth learning.

  1. SEO (search engine optimization): “… the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via … search results. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it 'ranks,' the more searchers will visit that site." From Wikipedia. See blog postings on SEO.
  2. Open source: “… a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process.” From the Open Source Initiative. Software code that is created under open source guidelines (such as Drupal – our CMS of choice) is open to anybody to use without licensing restrictions.
  3. RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary, depending on who you ask): “… a format used to publish frequently updated works – such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video. An RSS document (which is called a 'feed', 'web feed', or 'channel') includes full or summarized text … [that] benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an 'RSS reader', 'feed reader', or 'aggregator', which can be web-based or desktop-based.” From Wikipedia. Here's the Friendly Web Tools Blog RSS feed and instructions on how to use it.
  4. Microblogging: “… the practice of sending brief posts to a personal blog on a Web site, such as Twitter or Jaiku. Microposts can be made public on a Web site and/or distributed to a private group of subscribers. Subscribers can read posts online or request that updates be delivered in real time to their desktop as an instant message or sent to a mobile device as an SMS text message.” From Follow Talance on Twitter.
  5. Social network fatigue: “The ennui induced by persistent solicitations to join new social networks. It is especially acute in those who are already members of more MySpaces than they can remember." From Wired.

How Nonprofits Might Use Twitter

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

In the next few years, we’re going to be hearing even more about so-called microblogging. So it’s not a bad idea to start reading about it now. Besides, many organizations are using microblogging with products such as Twitter to great effect (follow me on Twitter, if you’re curious).

An article in BusinessWeek talks about how airlines are using Twitter to handle customer support. Look at this example from the article:

Christofer Hoff tweeted his displeasure with Southwest (LUV) on Apr. 28, when his flight was delayed and his luggage disappeared. The next day he received the following message from Southwest: “Sorry to hear about your flight—weather was terrible in the NE. Hope you give us a 2nd chance to prove that Southwest = Awesomeness.” In a blog post about the incident, Hoff wrote that it was “cool and frightening at the same time.”

Think about what parallels you might be able to draw between Southwest and your own organization. Can you use a microblogging site to …

  • Notify your community about a successful fund-raising effort? (E.g., “Hurray! We just hit the $8000 mark! Help us get to $9000.”)
  • Update volunteers on an upcoming opportunity? (E.g., “Friends of the Burlington Library: we still need four people for the book sale. Bring a friend on Saturday.”)
  • Bring about social action in real time? (E.g., “Help us protest for fair wages. We’re meeting at 4th & Filmore. Bring your T-shirts and pickets.”)

Twitter or another microblogging site might not be for you and your organization. But it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself. Zappos (the company that sells shoes online) has a handy quick-start guide to Twitter, which is a pretty good intro for anyone.