One hundred million investment dollars tells us that Twitter is not just for kids. I’m not talking about Twitter’s ability to sell ads or stage a Linkedin-style IPO, but the presumably informed institutional investors who’ve decided to bet their money on Twitter’s ability to crowd source the direction of the Dow.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already read the stories about the UK hedge fund whose sole strategy is trading based on millions of Tweets. The idea is that by determining the mood of people based on their Tweets, we can gauge the sentiment of the world for the day and hence whether people will buy or sell en masse. Yes – what Lindsey Lohan says on Twitter impacts the stock market.
Time – and investor returns – will tell us soon enough whether or not this idea is a good one. But what I can tell you now is that Twitter is in fact a useful business tool. Some get it – lots don’t. Just last night, in fact, I received strange looks from half the dinner table when I told them how useful Twitter has become for me both as a source of personal branding and knowledge gathering.
But like any tool, Twitter is only useful if you take to the time to learn how to use it. Yes, you can just create a login and start entering what you had for lunch. That will get you a lot of followers if you’re like the aforementioned starlet. But for those of us in slightly more professional careers, using Twitter effectively takes a little more planning.
First you must apply an old Wall Street adage. Make sure that what ever you post you’d be ok having on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Journalists, clients, employers, potential employers and many people’s mothers are on Twitter so you must treat it as a professional and public forum. That doesn’t mean you can’t inject a little bit of your personality – otherwise what fun would it be – but don’t’ say anything stupid. And of course, you don’t really have to say anything at all.
I find a lot of interesting news stories and blog posts via Twitter that I would have never found otherwise. To do this you need to set up filters for keywords. I keep an eye out for #derivatives for example (if you want to know what the # is all about, go here). This will help you find not only interesting content but interesting people to follow.
Think about it this way – if you read an interesting article chances are a lot of other people who work in and around you would also think it’s interesting. If we all have that mentality and post it to Twitter (or your other social network of choice), then that leaves us all with our very own customized news feed.
Believe it or not I’ve actually made some good business contacts through Twitter. We “spoke” about a certain post and in a few cases end up meeting at a conference or in a formal meeting. In fact, my first quote in the New York Times came out of an interaction on Twitter.
So give it a try. You might just find out you like it. Let me know…. @kmcpartland.