Tweet #2500 – Top 3 Things I’ve Learned in 8 Years on Twitter

I opened my Twitter account almost 8 years ago, after a wine-enhanced dinner party. Low expectations? Oh yeah. But I have come around. Today as I approach tweet number 2,500 (thanks @TweetCounter), I stopped for a brief moment to consider what I have learned from this amazing tool, both professionally and personally.

# 1 You get out of it what you put into it. Both for myself and for clients, from government agencies to arts groups, the effort you put into using Twitter is proportional to the wealth you extract from it. To maximize your tweet return, don’t think of it just as a posting tool, but also as a listening device and research outlet. I check the bio and tweets of every Twitter user who follows me (or a client’s account) and evaluate whether they will make a good partner. It takes a lot of time (especially when I was helping to build up @SFOpera’s 80,000+ followers) but it’s worth it to form a network of partners and influencers across time and space.

# 2 Hashtags are the new Dewey Decimal System. OK, I’m old, but I remember memorizing the key DDS numbers so that I could head directly to the section of a library for the kind of information that is important to me. The Dewey system was static, while hashtags are living, breathing and constantly on the move, but taking the effort to find (or start and promote) hashtags can serve as an index that organizes the 500 million tweets a day into a useful and enlightening resource.

# 3 Twitter is about instant gratification and universal connection. Yes, Facebook lets me bond with friends, sharing life events or opinions with people whom I (at least sort of) know and like. Twitter lets you carry on a conversation with folks you will never meet, and get information in the instant. Wait, was that an earthquake? Get on Twitter and search and you’ll know before the scientists do.

Twitter can be annoying and challenging (Just ignore the “Top” tab and go straight to “Live” for a picture of what’s happening now, not just what’s “popular”.) However, I have learned that expressing #gratitude is an important part of a fulfilling relationship with Twitter. So:

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What’s in a Business’s Name? Choosing Between Factual and Memorable

rsz_1file3861261307855I’m a Gemini, and mostly comfortable with my split personality. But when it came time to name my business, I struggled: Sustainable Communication Strategies or LeapingOtter? (Yes, I own both URLs!) The quandary: should I pick something clear and serious, or easy to remember and light hearted?

LeapingOtter rings joyful, touches upon nature without beating you over the head with it, and has a hint of whimsy. Sustainable Communication Strategies is exactly what I do: integrated communication campaigns that are financially, environmentally and personally sustainable, customized to each client’s needs. SCS is a clunky mouthful, not easy to remember; LeapingOtter may be a bit twee. What to do?

Name choices that seem descriptive and clear can unwittingly erect barriers once publicized. We see this often in classical music organizations, where fancy names, often Latinate mouthfuls, fairly shout to the uninitiated: NO! this is not for you!  Environmental organizations run into similar problems when trying to use the word ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ — what seemed so nifty around the conference table is a mystery to the outsider. “Green? You mean like money, or lawn care?”

Often in business naming, fantasy can win out over factual.  Many companies have whimsical names that are memorable but don’t really describe what they do. From Akamai to Zappo’s — what were they thinking?

There are a couple of reasons for going with a less down-to-earth name: it gives you the freedom to expand your mission and how you talk about your work, and it allows the listener to identify with the business on his/her own terms.

So, for now, LeapingOtter it is.  Here’s to taking the leap.

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