Twitter’s Glory Days

As Facebook evolves as a place for friends and family to connect, Twitter continues to penetrate the mainstream as a grassroots consumer-complaint bureau and a virtual business network. Giving the microblogging platform even more oomph is its search tool, which can give a quick snapshot of a developing event and instantaneously connect Twitter users.

Two events this past week illustrated how consumer adoption of Twitter is increasingly making it a channel that businesses and marketers cannot ignore.

Ticketmaster Meets Twitter

Ticketmaster couldn’t have picked a worse day to have a computer glitch. At 9 a.m. Monday — the day after Bruce Springsteen rocked Super Bowl XLIII — tickets for the New Jersey native’s concerts in his home state and on Long Island went on sale. Springsteen fans trying to buy concert tickets got a message saying the system was undergoing routine maintenance. What’s more, some people were directed to TicketsNow to buy tickets at a higher price. Problem is, TicketsNow is Ticketmaster’s sister site.

Springsteen fans immediately brought their grievances to Twitter, sharing their frustrations with other would-be concert goers and documenting their complaints for the world to see.

“Diff between TicketsNow and a scalper? One is a subsidiary of TicketMaster. Bruce tix, face value $95, ‘on sale’ through TicketsNow $776!” wrote John Bordeaux 52 minutes after tickets went on sale at Ticketmaster.

Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer weighed in on an apparent Ticketmaster e-mail marketing blunder. “Ticketmaster sends an email alert to me saying Springsteen tix go on sale at 10am. Everyone else tells me it was 9am. WTF???”

Ticketmaster, which apparently doesn’t have an official presence on Twitter, couldn’t respond quickly enough to the Twitter protests. The damage was done. Nearly 30 hours later, Ticketmaster spokesman Albert Lopez was quoted on RollingStone.com as saying, “It was an unfortunate computer glitch that happened on our side…It wasn’t our finest hour.”

On his Web site, BruceSpringsteen.net, the Boss even complained about Ticketmaster’s move to upsell tickets on TicketsNow. “We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest,” he wrote.

Twitter: The 21st-Century Rotary Club

It takes work to be a good networker.

For decades, groups like the Rotary Club and the Jaycees have afforded business leaders and others the opportunity to network. Likewise, industry associations and conferences offer venues for people to connect.

Sure, it’s great to get out of the office. But if you’re like most people I know in business, you spend a good part of your workweek tethered to a computer at work or in a home office.

So what’s a networker to do? Head to Twitter. That advice was offered up by panelists speaking at LegalTech New York, a conference for lawyers and law technology professionals. (Disclosure: ClickZ’s parent company, Incisive Media, runs LegalTech.)

“Twitter’s like a networking meeting on steroids, though the conversations are better and there’s fewer insurance salesmen in the room,” said Matt Homann, who heads up LexThink, a consultancy that promotes innovation in the legal community.

Or take Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of LexBlog, which helps law firms set up blogs, and the operator of LexTweet.com, a community of legal professionals using Twitter. He said microblog entries about his personal interests, such as baseball, helped him connect with lawyers from Washington, DC, and Europe, for potential business deals.

“Small talk leads to big things. [As lawyers], relationships are how we get clients. Start to follow people who are doing interesting things,” advised O’Keefe, who is based in Seattle. (People who opt to follow other Twitter members automatically receive those people’s tweets, which are messages that cannot exceed 140 characters each.)

Twitter is also a great way to reach out to people without being intrusive. To prepare for his LegalTech panel presentation, 10e20 president Chris Winfield posted three questions on Twitter, including “How could a lawyer or someone in the legal field use Twitter effectively?” Within 30 minutes, he had 135 responses. “Before, if I wanted to get that information, I would have had to call people,” said Winfield, whose public relations company specializes in social media and search engine optimization.

Certainly, there are risks involved in using Twitter, but many are no different from those of other public forums, online or off-. O’Keefe, for instance, warned against making derogatory remarks on Twitter or divulging too much personal information. Instead, people who tweet should share information and opinions relevant to their target audience.

“It’s instant anthropology,” said Homann. “You are able to plug into the things that people think are the most important [issues].”

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