Such is the case with me and my original attempts to participate on Twitter - the Web 2.0 microblogging platform. I first checked out Twitter back in late 2006, shortly after it was first launched. I mentioned it to my web guys at HairBoutique.com and they literally rolled their eyes at me.
Note: To get started on Twitter go to http://www.twitter.com and create a new free Twitter account by clicking on the Join The Conversation button to register.
Why? Not because they thought Twitter was fodder for their eye rolling, but because I always bite off way more than I can ever chew in this lifetime.
Whenever I throw yet more "tasks" on my pile, it means additional work for the HairBoutique.com web guys. Most of the time they are already loaded down with so many new tasks based on my "brilliant ideas" for HairBoutique.com they hold their breath while I flirt with the latest new concept.
My initial discussions about Twitter with my HB staff netted lots of thought provoking feedback. As always, there were pros and cons and lots of follow-up questions.
Some of the questions included asking what was the ultimate value to HairBoutique.com to Twitter? Other questions included determing the value to our long time Web visitors, Marketplace customers, corporate partners and long time vendors. Would we be able to use Twitter purely as a communications tool or to try and get more insight into changing technologies?
The most important question involved who would be utimately responsible for Twitter? How much time would it take and what was involved?
At any one time HairBoutique.com literally has over 40 various projects in play. We are constantly working on the business from many different angles spanning technology (software) to marketing and advertising to dealing with the constant challenges of being an e-store (our Marketplace with over 10,000 product SKUs).
The bottom line back in late 2006/early 2007 was that no one had any additional bandwidth to pursue Twitter and that was that. The sputtering end to my latest brilliant plan (I do listen to reason when it makes good business sense) and I was off onto more pressing HairBoutique.com projects.
But the little voice in my head kept whispering Twitter...Twitter...Twitter. When I would bring it up from time to time everyone would remind me that it didn't fit with the current corporate business focus. Sometimes when I would see one of the Web guys in the hallway I would greet them with - Twitter? They would laugh a nervous laugh and scurry off before I could reopen the topic.
Finally in August of 2008 I decided that I would stretch myself just a little bit tighter and be the Twitter guinea pig for HairBoutique.com in my copious amounts of "free time" which basically does not exist in my world.
However, I was bound and determined to check out Twitter. A new Twitter account was set up for HairBoutique and for my own personal use as KarenMShelton.
What is Twitter you may be asking? It's a fabulous (IMHO) free social networking (Web 2.0) and micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. The text based posts are limited to 140 characters which is why it's called micro blogging.
Note: At first I couldn't figure out how a blabbermouth like me could limit myself to 140 characters but somehow I have managed just fine.
Twitter was started by the brilliant team of Jack Dorsey, Evan Willians and Biz Stone in San Francisco. Current estimates, depending on who you believe, place the number of Twitter accounts at approximately 3 million with 5 million visitors in September of 2008.
In the beginning I started to lurk on Twitter to figure it out before jumping in with both feet and winding up with either of my feet in my mouth. If I've learned nothing else from my many years of web surfing and chat room chatting, it's to always lurk before making my presence known.
One of the first things I discovered about Twitter was that there was an abundance of tweeting about hair, beauty, make-up and fashion which are some of my favorite topics. I also found fantastic tweets about business, the Web, marketing and emerging technologies. Definitely worthwhile like a techno-geek, social network pro CEO like me.
Did I read all the hair tweets I found on Twitter? Pretty much. At least all that I could find in my various Twitter searching. I wanted to know what hair consumers were talking about. I always want to know that. It's why HairBoutique.com was originally founded.
In some cases I was intriqued by the hair and beauty related topics and started to "follow" the tweeters. In other cases I realized the tweets were random hair ravings and didn't follow since there was no long term common interests. I also noticed new followers with related interests for HairBoutique as a result of various hair topics or TinyURLs (a way to post links within the 140 word limits of Twitter) I started posting.
After hanging out on Twitter nonstop for several days, I figured out that it is a fantastic medium for a myriad of reasons - not just to read hair tweets or hair related Twitter accounts. Yes, there's lots of hair, beauty and related topics that fly by at rapid speeds, but the benefits of Twitter are much more complicated and multi-layered.
One of the most important things I learned about Twitter, in the first few days of tweeting, was that for it to be worthwhile, it required an ongoing commitment from me and HairBoutique.com. That committment was tied to developing ongoing relationships with our followers and those we were following.
Twitter can't be used just to post advertisements or secret sales, at least in my humble opinion. Very early on I banned all blatant HB related advertising tweets from our Twitter account because I decided that I didn't want our Twittering to be only about our Marketplace but wanted it to be much more. I wanted it to be in the original spirit of HairBoutique.com which was founded on the principles of providing unconditional, no strings, hair and beauty info for consumers.
Yes, some twitter users do use the channel for selling and advertising purposes. However, the real gold buried in Twitter is in learning to use the micro blogging world for the development of valuable new relationships - business and personal - and being able to open your eyes to many new philosophies which are freely shared in the tweeting.
Do I produce hair tweets for the HairBoutique Twitter account? Yes. Afterall, hair is my true passion and what HairBoutique.com is all about.
But as I progress in my experiences with the magical inner world of micro bloggers, I have become more focused about what I try to share with the HairBoutique Twitter followers.
I try very hard to limit the offering of random and mundane hair chatter and provide thoughtful TinyURLs with helpful or new hair and beauty related information.
I also pay close attention to what people are sharing with regard to their own dreams, goals, lives and challenges. In a lot of ways, Twitter offers you the ability to connect on a very deep level and share a tiny piece of your soul.
Of course when first getting involved with Twitter either as an individual or a corporate entity, it's important to understand what your true goals are. You need to understand how you can best serve and be served on Twitter in the process
While I temporarily went astray in my initial plan to pursue Twitter, I found my way into the world of the big blue bird (Twitter's logo/icon) and am very appreciative of all the good folks at Twitter who have done so much to make this form of communication available.
I would love to hear your feedback on Twitter if you are using it. Also, I would love to have you follow me at HairBoutique (http://twitter.com/HairBoutique) and share your own Twitter world.
For more detailed information on Twitter check out Julio Ojeda-Zapata's new book - twitter means business - available from Amazon.com. You can also follow Julio on Twitter at @Ojeda.
Please follow us on Twitter at: https://Twitter.com/HairBoutique. I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets.