Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Poetics Of Professional Tweeting

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Jason Lee Miller
The Poetics Of Professional Tweeting
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let’s assume we’re on the same page that says Twitter is good for something. Now let’s romanticize it and equate to a modern limerick; let’s make it vulgar and call it Limerick 2.0. (The number of characters bars it from Haiku status—keep all that meaning under 30 characters and that’s serious art.) What should your little poem—the professional tweeter’s poem—say to the world?

Editor's Note: Have any innovative advice about how Twitter can be used effectively in business? It’s kind of a Wild West out there as far as this concept goes, so give a go at enlightening us in the comments section.

Should it be a sales pitch? An advertisement? Random thoughts on poppy seed bagels? How does a professional tweet, anyway? Are there proven methods of effective tweeting? Can we call it something else besides “tweeting?” 

Unfortunately, the answer’s probably no on the last one, unless you want to look sillier than if you just succumbed to puddy-tat (loltat) jargon in the first place. As to the nature of the tweet (one can’t exaggerate the sigh that just exited my core upon typing that last dependent clause), I pinged an elite group of cutting-edge, on the fringe, historically wild-web-west new media hip-shooters about effective professional tweeting, and not one of them had anything to say about it.

Well, there’s always Chris Richardson, formerly one of WebProNews’s own and now blogging sports at, with his colorful takes on everything. “Essentially,” he said, “it's all minutiae anyway—‘I went to such and such steakhouse during Pubcon and it was the bomb. Great selection of meat.’—and so on. There's only so much detail you can provide in 140 characters.”

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One might surmise Chris hasn’t been won over from the Twitter dark side yet. He’s not alone in his skepticism. Over at’s “Listening Post” blog, Scott Thill bemoans the lack of “penetrating insights” from the band REM’s Twitter feed before noting the un-Snoopness of Snoop Dog’s. Some PR poser, someone completely out of touch of with the bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yay-ishness of Snoop spends 140 characters telling followers to pick up a copy of the new album at their local Wal-Mart. 

Okay so we still have naysayers, but the problem with naysayers is they always point out who’s doing it wrong, which is kind of easy. Who’s doing it right? My list of elite social media contacts will have to be updated, and Chris Brogan should be on it. Brogan recently posted “50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.” While there are 50 guidelines there, themes have developed out of them (themes that are likely good personal goals as well) that can be summarized this way:

  1. Be your true, authentic self, but don’t focus on yourself or your business too much. Point to interesting field/business-related things that got your attention. (This will play better than “I’m at Starbucks.”) And ask people following you questions about their own experiences. Tweet about others’ experiences.
  2. If choosing an official company tweeter, choose more than one to fill in gaps.
  3. Follow interesting people. This is the interesting-by-association technique.
  4. Be human. Humans have relationships. Humans like interesting pictures, ideas, and humor.
  5. Be useful. Find something that helps you do something better and share it.

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About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.
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