Don’t be Afraid–Twitter Won’t Bite

There’s a monster lurking in the shadows. The million-headed beast reveals itself from the midst of darkness, propositioning you to join its alliance. But the gushing saliva, malodorous breath, and scaly skin frighten you, prompting you to flee shrieking in fear.

Ok, fine. There’s no beast lurking. In fact, the monster you fret is really the future. While I dread writing these “why you should be using social networking sites” pieces, for some reason, there still seems to be a necessity. After several conversations over the past week regarding people’s fear and reticence about joining Twitter — and not just for privacy reasons — it seems to me that people aren’t scared of Twitter.

They’re  scared of change.

Face it. Twitter has brought about monumental innovation, including being part of the first African American U.S. president’s winning campaign;  contributing to the development of the IBM personal computer during a recession; and aiding the success of a new class of entrepreneurs and revenue stream by social networking mavens.

For entrepreneurs, small business owners, and professionals, consider Twitter your stepping stone to embracing change. Besides, if you’re really trying to market a product or service, the returns can prove worth it. According to technology Website, as of June, 9.7% of its blog traffic comes from Twitter, this up from 1.8% just six months earlier.

The Washington Post also reported that Twitter is being used to “mine it for clients, recruit employees and answer customer service questions,” and brand mentions.

Fairfax County government is also experimenting with Twitter, sending out announcements about snow-induced school closings and county board meetings, reports the Post.

So, it’s not about updating people on your every move, more than informing people and getting insight on what potential clients, consumers, or associates think. I must admit, getting started on Twitter was a bit hard for me too. But here are a few tips I used to help break the ice.

Follow what you buy. When I signed up on Twitter I was heavily contemplating taking a vacation. I happened to find out JetBlue and Southwest Airlines were on Twitter and always announced discounts and promotions. This became a great way to find out about special offers and even interact with some of the companies, giving me the chance to ask customer related questions.

Follow what (or who) you listen to. Chances are if you listen to their music, they’re probably on Twitter. This allowed me the chance to keep up with [free] shows some of my favorite artists were playing around the city.

Ask questions. A few months ago, I began teaching myself how to edit video on Final Cut Pro. Between Youtube tutorials and Google, I was able to get the hang of it. But there were some minor issues that still troubled me. So I went to Twitter and merely posted a simple question: How do you get rid of natural sound in Final Cut Pro? Within moments Final Cut Pro users responded with advice, tips, and Web resources. Asking questions about what you’re interested in or what you’re working on can be a great way to gain followers and engage in dialog.

Got it?


If you’re on Twitter what do you like most about it?

Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at