At first, Twitter seemed scary, mainly because Tweets are all happening so fast and with only 140 characters, it was not clear what to use it for exactly. But once BrandMirror started using it, and explored new features like TwitterChats for example, it became clear that Twitter is about engaging quickly and powerfully with scale.

Engaging Quickly & Powerfully, Just look at #blacklivesmatter

In the Democratic debate over a month ago, there were dozens of issues that were brought up and discussed. Issues that have been present for decades. However, #blacklivesmatter was a topic brought to the forefront by lots of people pushing the conversation with passion and purpose. It was clear that this conversation started online and became real in large part because of mobilizing a community around one targeted movement.

Twitter is the Listening Glass on the Wall of the World

From a business standpoint, Twitter allows companies to stay on top of relevant conversations about their brands, products, and experiences. It allows you to see trending topics and understand what is gaining momentum. Leveraging hashtags, keywords, and more – one can sift out meaningful crowd intelligence for companies to take action on, like new ideas, improvements, and more.

One of our partners,Verifeed, helped us identify what conversations were happening, and how they were evolving. Some of the best insights from the month of March were looking at the most impactful tweets. These are Tweets that had the most reach from the top 10 influencers in personal branding. We validated the hashtags that were optimal to use like #personalbrand, #thoughtleadership, #reputation, #introvert, #interview. Some of these we knew, and some were new to us as we looked at how people were talking, not how we were talking. You have to meet your target audience where they are. This allows you to listen better and react faster.

People are Watching & Paying Attention

Although many companies have a Facebook page, one of the most startling pieces of information I saw was from Weber Shandwick on the”Social CEO”. The research produced on this highlighted that if a CEO had a Twitter account, they were perceived as ~75% more innovative than if they had no Twitter account. This is pretty amazing and speaks to how relevant being on social is for companies and their leadership team. Employees want to see the face of the company, customers want to be able to interact with a human, and new prospects want to be inspired by a person to engage, not a logo.

In June 2011, only four Fortune 100 CEOs were even on Twitter. Brian Dunn, the CEO of Best Buy, was one of the first CEOs to tweet in 2009. It is not clear that necessarily helped Best Buy be perceived as more innovative. However, think about if he was not on Twitter, the perception might be worse.

CEOs can also use Twitter to engage quickly when there is a scandal or issue. Whether it is the CEO of Malaysian Airlines engaging after missing flights, where Twitter allowed him to put a face to the company, or Dave Morin, CEO of the Path, where he quickly wrote an apology on Twitter after the their business practices were being questioned.

So what does this mean for you?

The critical next step is to figure out if your audience is on Twitter, and of the 100 million active daily Twitter users, it is likely many of them are. Then once you know who they are, figure out how best to personalize and target your content strategy, marketing and business goals, and investment appetite.

If used correctly, Twitter can be a powerful tool in your marketing toolkit. But if you’re impatient and just Tweet and Retweet without intention or clarity of purpose, the odds of succeeding are not in your favor.

Be your best self,

*Originally posted here in partnership with Verifeed.