Excerpted from my upcoming book Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy (2009, Lake House Press)
Feeding near real time news to the public has been around since the American Telegraph Company invented the first stock ticker. The device, which fed stock quotes over long distances, utilized the wired telegraph system, Morse code and ticker tape to inform brokers of the latest stock prices. This was one of the first uses of emergent electronic technology to provide up-to-date, relevant news to a community of interest.
News feeds evolved with technology and by the 1950’s NBC was using the bottom portion of the screen as a "Times Square" display during the Today Show. Much to the chagrin of major news companies like the AP, Reuters and Bloomberg, who make a living providing real time news feeds, technology has once again disrupted the status quo.
Digital natives have developed their own system of feeding real time news. Services like Facebook’s Status Update and Twitter have replaced the non-ecofriendly paper tape with short messages knows as tweets. While many are using the technology to inform friends of their whereabouts, or what they had for breakfast, the true significance of the social networked news feed lies in its ability to create value.
It seems that everyone’s tweeting these days, you get 140-160 characters to answer the question, "What are you doing right now?" Some people tweet about their relationships, others tweet about their location, what they’re eating or whether they got any action last night. With so many meaningless tweets, is there any real reason to get involved? You bet there is. This technology is going to be around for quite some time and it is evolving rapidly. There is no "right" way or "wrong" way to tweet, there is only "your" way and you already have everything you need to do it.
First start following people who you would like to meet or who you admire. Then, invite a few people who you know well to follow you. You can offer them something of real value the minute you start tweeting. Something that is unique in the world and that is exclusively yours – your opinion. When something happens that you have an opinion about, tweet it. By adding your unique point of view, you transform a commodity (called information) into a valuable insight (called knowledge) for your social network. If you’re disciplined and you tweet three or four times each day, and each time you tweet, you are distributing something of value (as opposed to something people can get everywhere) you will find your followers increasing as well as your bottom line.
Tips For Successful Tweeters:
1) First, you want to be first as often as possible. So subscribe to alerts and pay attention to them. When you see a bit of news you can add value to, tweet about it.
2) Follow people you admire in your industry. If you respect them chances are they will have key insights to share with you, and vice versa.
3) Keep it professional. While it is okay to get personal with status updates like "drinking my morning coffee", don’t let menial feeds like this get in the way of providing insightful news.
4) Be consistent. If you want to succeed, you will have to do this regularly. Make a decision to do it, and stick with it.
5) Follow the Golden Tweet: Don’t feed anything you wouldn’t want someone to send to you. Insightful, analytical, and, most importantly, relevant news is what you are after.
6) Immerse yourself in it. If you aren’t having breaking news fed to you, how will you feed it to others.
If you have accounts on more than one social network, you might use a site like ping.fm to tweet to all of your news feeds at once, it saves some time. And, since tweet space is at a premium, you might like to use a utility program like 140it.com to compress your text into tweetable size, or tinyurl if you want to just shrink a big URL. Lastly, to really get value from Twitter and other social news feeds, learn to respond to tweets that interest you. The more interactive (and social) you are with your network, the more it will interact with you.
You can follow my feeds on Twitter.com/shelly_palmer, friend me on Facebook or find me on LinkedIn.