One of the latest social networking sites starting to take hold in the business world is Twitter. At IMS 2009 we are encouraging everyone to join in the action with sharing ideas and insights using Twitter. Several companies and individuals are already Twittering about the show, so I would like to introduce everyone to the idea.
Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows users to publish short messages up to 140 characters through different vehicles such as cell phones, instant messaging and the Web. Although it is called micro blogging, it is actually more like texting to a user’s group of followers or the collective if the user makes their “Tweats” public. It is somewhat similar to Facebook where users have friends who see what they publish, but on Twitter they are called followers. A user chooses which Twitter users they want to follow in order to receive their messages and other users can choose to follow you. Messages can be public so everyone on Twitter can see them or private to the user’s group of followers. Users can designate the messages to a specific person(s) or to the whole group of followers.
To join in on the action, go to Twitter.com and click "Join for free." Pick a username and password and you are good to go. It's also helpful to upload a picture and complete any other profile information desired. To promote yourself, tell friends and colleagues your username or send them the link to your Twitter page. Each user has a home page in the form twitter.com/username.
The Twitter network works even if the user is not at a computer or browsing the Web. Once you are registered, you can connect your mobile phone and instant messenger (IM) account. Go to Settings / Phone and IM. Connecting your phone and IM programs to your Twitter account is a straightforward process. Note that messages you view on a phone or an IM program also are readable on your personal Twitter Web page. You can set it up to send all messages to your phone or just direct messages.
To send a message from the Web page, enter a message in the entry window at the top of the page. From a mobile phone, send a SMS message to 40404. Your phone's caller ID is attached to your Twitter account, so the system will know it's from you. From IM use, message TwitterIM if you're on AOL, or email@example.com if you're on Jabber/GTalk. There are many free applications for your mobile device that will allow you to just enter messages and hit send to make it easier. I use TwitterBerry and it works very well (go to the site on your BlackBerry and download the application).
Twitter states that you should answer the question “What are you doing,” but it is really more useful to extend that into things such as asking the collective group a question, providing insightful statements (a real challenge with 140 characters) or telling everyone about something exciting that is happening right now. You can learn about events going on as they happen from your network. Many of the more progressive companies are now discovering Twitter can be used as a marketing tool to promote their products and services. Just taking a quick look around Twitter, I can already see several exhibitors who are using it. Agilent, AWR, CST, NXP, Freescale and of course, Microwave Journal have accounts and are Twittering about the show and other subjects.
So how do you find any useful information in this giant maze of random Tweats? You can search for keywords about subjects you are interested in following and can even use a feed to just filter on a keyword in addition to the Tweats you receive directly from the users you are following. Blogger offers a gadget to plug into your blog to do this. The Microwave Journal blog has a Twitter feed and you can choose your own keywords. Just set the keyword to IMS2009 and you can follow the action for the show on the blog (Microwave Journal editors will also be actively blogging at IMS).
So IMS2009 is the keyword we are encouraging everyone to use in their Tweats so everyone can follow this subject. “Hashtags” are keywords that can be used (developed by Hashtags.org) to filter on results about a certain subject and can be used to follow the most popular subjects on their site. To use the Hashtag for IMS 2009, begin each Tweat about the show with #IMS2009 and everyone can follow this keyword via Twitter Search or Hashtags.org.
You can follow the MWJ editors on Twitter by following David Vye @mwjournal and me @pathindle. Freescale’s Leonard Pelletier is also joining the action and can be followed @RFLeonard. Enjoy the show and happy Twittering!
To watch the action in real time, view our Twitter Search page.