Sigh, ok – I guess that it’s time that I finally get around to talking about the Internet fad-du-jour: Twitter. The Internet is all abuzz about just what the heck Twitter is (a micro-blogging service), who should be using it (apparently everyone), and just how product mangers should get the most out of it (a tad bit unclear here). I’ve spent some time looking into these questions and I think that I’ve discovered the answers that you need.
Some Background On Twitter
So here’s the thing: Twitter is not the best thing since sliced bread like some people would have you think. Instead, it’s better to view it as being just another communications tool that you have at your disposal. One thing that all product managers need to realize is that not everyone is on/using Twitter. This means that this channel is only suited to reaching certain people.
It’s Not All About You
Right up front product managers need to realize that other Tweets (people who use Twitter) don’t really care about you – instead what they really care about is your product. This means that independent of what you may be doing personally on Twitter, you’ll need to set up a separate Twitter account for your product. Since Twitter accounts are free, this is easy to do.
Tools For Tracking Tweets
One of the key questions that every product manager wants an answer to is “who is talking about my product?”. A great 3rd party tool that let’s you do this is called TweetBeep.
With TweetBeep, you sign up for a free account and then you enter the words or phrases that you would like to keep track of. TweetBeep will send you an update every hour telling you who has tweeted using the phrase that you are interested in (your product name for example).
In the world of Twitter, as in the real world, there is very little new. What this means for product managers is that tweets that contain a link often get re-tweeted multiple times. In order to find out just how many people are clicking on a link that you tweet about, the company bit.ly offers a service to do this.
Sharp-eyed readers may recognize bit.ly as an online service that you can use to create shorter versions of long URLs. It turns out that bit.ly offers another free service that allows you to attach a brief code to your shortened links which will then allow you to track how many people click on the link and gather information on them such as where they are located.
Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen
Often when a product manager sets up a single Twitter account for his / her product, there will be multiple people within the company who will be responsible for using it and replying to other Tweets. This can quickly become confusing.
A service called CoTweet allows you to set up multiple queues for different users. When Tweets about your product are seen, then these tweets can be assigned to different queues so that different users can respond to them. This will help in preventing multiple overlapping responses.
Only time will tell if Twitter is here to stay or if it is just a flash-in-the-pan. No matter which way things end up going, product managers have a unique opportunity to use this new communications channel to reach out to others and talk about their products.
The basic Twitter service is ok. The arrival of additional 3rd party Twitter tools has the ability to make Twitter an even more powerful tool for product mangers. If you learn how to use Twitter effectively, then you will have once again have found out how great product managers make their product(s) fantastically successful.
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I fly all the time and I pretty much hate it – the hassles, the delays, etc. Sure seems like a great opportunity for a product manger to step in and do something to make flying a better experience…