MOUNT VERNON — Social networking has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the Internet took off that it reached a potential undreamed of — until recently. The Internet has given social networking an immediacy that older forms cannot match.
One of the fastest growing Internet social networking sites is one called Twitter. This site is best described as a free social networking and micro-blogging service. It lets users send and receive short — 140 character — messages known as Tweets. Each user has a profile page and these Tweets are displayed on the author’s page. The Tweets can be sent to a restricted circle of friends or users can allow open access to the messages.
“Twitter is basically a social media,” said Josh Morrison, Webmaster for www.mountvernonnews.com. “It’s a way of contacting people through short messages. It’s kind of like an electronic water cooler. It’s real time — it happens as soon as you send it updates. It’s for people who are interested in what’s going on right now. So it’s short messages and short Tweets. And it’s fun, too.”
Morrison said businesses also use Twitter to help spread the word about their products and services. The Mount Vernon News uses Twitter to connect people with the information they are looking for, regardless of whether or not they are subscribers.
“The Mount Vernon News uses it as just another venue to get the news out,” he explained. “We get into the social media aspects to establish our brand on the Web; to further our brand. And not everybody has access to the Web, but they may have it on their mobile phone. We want to have our brand wherever we can.”
The scope and reach of Twitter is a big attraction, but for many it’s also the immediacy. Beth Murdoch uses Twitter for her business primarily, but also posts personal Tweets.
“People won’t follow you if you don’t make personal Tweets,” she said. “The people in my follow are all cupcake people. So if they have a new item or something that’s new, it’s immediate. It keeps me up to date.
“But I do have personal stuff on there. People who follow me are all kinds of people. There is a really nice Twitter group down here in Mount Vernon. It has a nice following and I have all those people as my friends. We direct message each other all the time. Down here, downtown, it’s kind of like having a walkie-talkie. I don’t even know their phone numbers. But I know I can talk to them any time if I just Twitter them.”
Using Twitter for both personal and business is not unusual. For some it is a form of networking. Justin Bryant owns his own graphics business, Think Graphics, and finds Twitter useful to draw attention to his products and services. But his personal interests can draw other people to his business.
“I use Twitter to tell people about my brand and my company without getting in their face,” he explained. “It can be subtle. That’s how I try to approach it.”
Speed and immediacy are facets of Twitter that appeal to Bryant.
“I considered having a blog,” he said. “But having a blog can be very time consuming. And Twitter is a micro-blog, so I thought that would be an interesting way to blog without having to spend a lot of time.”
Personal and business use of Twitter are part of the same paradigm for Bryant.
“I kind of intertwine them,” he said. “I have my graphics business, but I’m also interested in gardening. Perhaps other people who are interested in gardening may be interested in what I am saying about gardening but they may become interested in my services as well. So my personal and business sort of intertwine, and you can’t really separate the two.”