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New Media Strategist Goes Camping...and Comes Back Tweeting

February 15

Desdemona

Desdemona Bandini, in between sessions at the "unconference"

When I received the invitation to attend the BarCamp "unconference" in San Diego to discuss technology and trends within the digital community, I was interested. When I found out we were to bring tents and sleeping bags to literally camp inside Microsoft's offices, I knew I had to go.

The informative BarCamp Wiki had a list of extracurricular activities sure to entertain in between sessions that included PowerPoint Karaoke and a hacking contest called DefCamp — which required participants to have a basic understanding of cryptography and to bring wire clippers, a soldering iron, and a lock pick set among other items. Yep, this was going to be an experience.

After making the two-hour journey down the 405 to San Diego, I arrived at Microsoft with hopes of getting some insights into how new media and HR could benefit each other. I was directed to a board that was covered with session descriptions that included fascinating topics like DiSo (a free open sourceware project that hopes to implement OpenID – a universal ID across all social networks) and OAuth (a universal set of permissions to accompany the ID), What's Wrong with Yelp?, Drupal Elements, and Hot Trends in Social Networking.

Workgroup session

A workgroup session taking place at Microsoft's BarCamp.

These sessions intrigued me, but what I really saw was an infinite fascination and passion for all things Twitter. What is Twitter? Twitter is a micro-blogging service used to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? There were at least 6 sessions on Twitter including; The Great Twitter Debate, Twitter Ready for the Mainstream? – The Future of Twitter and Useful Tweet Applications, not to mention the non-stop twittering that was going on constantly by everyone, everywhere, at all times.

Twitter has only been around a year and a half and already is on the tipping point for mainstream. Twitter is a free social networking and broadcasting service that allows you to follow and be followed by your "friends" thereby building your social network. It works online and through mobile, allowing users to send 140 character updates via SMS, instant messaging, email, and RSS feeds to Twitter, or via any one of the multitude of Twitter applications now available – also know as "tweets."

Twitter

Twitter, a micro-blogging service, was one of the main focuses at this event.

Tweets can appear on Facebook and MySpace pages through some of these applications, instantly updating your followers on your "news." Twitter offers streams of transparent conversation and consciousness on a hyper-instant level. To really get Twitter you need to follow at least 10 people and be followed by at least 10 people. At the conference, nametags shared space with Twitter account info, and instead of passing out phone or email information, passing out your Twitter ID appeared to be the rage. At least with this group...

How can we apply this information in HR? There are some things we can do with Twitter, and some things we cannot.

Some current limitations are that Twitter does not accept advertising. It is a tool to build a network of contacts that have larger networks of contacts. Also, you currently cannot data mine Twitter to get very specific information, like a job title or a geographic locations on a larger scale.

You can create a Twitter ID and include it in your company's campaign through collateral, job fairs, signage, etc. This will begin to build your company's own social network by sending out tweets on what your organization is doing for employees. Twitter is essentially a broadcasting service. You can use it to broadcast links of jobs and announcements, campus recruiting updates, links to career content – employee profiles, videos, articles, and announce when you will be at a conference — "meet us here at booth 1234!" being careful not to send messages that could be considered spam or using too much "sales" language.

These notices will trickle out into the network and spread virally. Like any social network you have to organically grow your database of contacts by first capturing interest. You can capture interest by creating conversations and building transparent relationships. Integrating Twitter into a campaign beefs up the "cool" factor, and is truly an awesome way to reach an audience that is already networking online.

Throughout my Twitter sessions at BarCamp, all agreed recruiting was an intriguing way to use this technology...that is continually redefining its purpose daily. It is important to understand that Twitter is not a complete solution, rather a strategy to be integrated into a campaign. With success, press hungry for a great Twitter story will surely follow.

There were, of course, other cool presentations at the "unconference." Guitar Hero and a keg kept the evening interesting, and after a long night of staring up at the neon hall lights from the roof of my netted tent, I woke up stiff and was handed a cup of coffee. In day two Twitter conversations raged on, and the weekend of meetings ended appropriately with a scavenger hunt that only this crowd could love - a "tweet" hunt.

To learn more about how new online media strategies can help your recruitment needs, contact your TMP New Media or Digital Strategist or email me at desdemona.bandini@tmp.com.

For some examples of Twitter campaigns go to www.twitter.com. You can also read a recent article Why Twitter Matters, recently published on Businessweek.com.

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