In the earlier post on The Trinity of Social Media, we explored blogging and I stated that the blog is a foundational component.  The basic components are a blog, a microblog and the social network.

This post explores how the microblog fits a basic strategy we laid out in the Trinity of Social Media.  Hope you enjoy it and comment on how a microblog has worked for you, or even if you still cannot get your brain wrapped around why should you use one at all.

The idea behind the Trinity of Social Media is that any one of the components are a good start, but a strategy of these three elements are better – much better.

image of various microblogging products What is a microblog?  In The Social Media Bible, (chapter 15, pg 263) we write that "Microblogging is text messaging and a bit more".   Yeah – I’ll go with the "bit more" side of the comment.

To begin with, we see the term ‘blog’ embedded in the name, which to the uninitiated, suggests a blog like function.  In many ways, it does have many of the functions of a blog.  The blog was explored in depth in this post.

To begin with, a remarkable differences is the length of the post.  A microblog post follows the constraint of the mobile phone text message, which is approximately 160 characters.  Giving up part of that 160 characters to a user ID puts us at 140 characters.

So while a blog post is about 200 words, a microblog post is 140 characters – so the post it’s like 8 times smaller than a blog post.

At it’s core, microblogging can be seen as the sending, or posting, of text message by one person to a site on the web.  At the web site, other people can come and visit to read their posts.  Like a blog, the reading can be constrained by the person posting the message.  If they wish to allow it, visitors can subscribe to the messages posted and get them automatically sent to them.

With most microblogging services, the posts can be received on a mobile phone or on a computer.  If on your computer, it can be in your web browser or in a special program that runs on your computer.  When making a post, it can be sent from all the same places (computer, cell phone, browser, desktop program, etc.) as well, so this model presents a very flexible too to connect and communicate with an audience.

The net effect of the service is that you can send messages to not one person, but a whole network of people, or subscribers.  Imaging those subscribers as friends, customers, prospects or stakeholders.  Likewise you can receive message from a network of people in the same way, so you get to determine what is interesting to stay on top of? 

Breaking news stories have emerged in microblogging networks well in advance of when mainstream media can get to it.  Today we can expect that every new agency monitors the microblogging stream of messages for relevant news that they might investigate further and prepare for scheduled mainstream media broadcasts.

How does a business use a microblog? Examine the model I’ve just laid out; a one-to-many, publish & subscribe communication model that the pubic at large can opt-in to, and opt-out just as easily. 

As a retail business owner you might leverage the capability to instantly connect with customers and prospects informing them of specials that have a time limit.  A corporation might insert it into their customer service model, listening and instantly responding to customers that indicate they are unhappy.  A sales team might listen for topics or mentions of their brand (or a competitors!) that indicate when to connect or reconnect with a prospect.

Give subscribers a link to your blog to explore your latest blog post, view an uploaded video or a picture. 

Here’s a very popular thought – how about asking them what it is they want or need so you can then offer specifically that?

How does this fit into the Trinity of Social Media?  The first element was the blog, the blog is a semi-formalized communication with your audience.  It does, or should, require some kind of research, linking and images or video to make the post interesting to your audience.  The frequency of a blog post is however fairly regulated, daily at most, weekly at least or if you like me, when you can get to it while you’re growing the company.

A lot of life happens between those blog posts though – urgent matters arise, meetings are held, pictures are taken for sharing and new prospects and customers find you.  The frequency of a microblog posting is much more frequent than that a blog.  A bearable stream of 2 to 5 posts a day are common and a dozen or so to an interested audience is entirely bearable.

What microblogging tools are best?  Twitter by far has the greatest presence of any public microblogging platform on the planet.  It has been the subject and carrier of participants and first arrivals for breaking news on the 2008 election, USAir plane landing in the Hudson River, and citizen vs. government unrest in Iran.  A lot of good comes out of the Twitter community as well; local meetups that raise funds for charity (@Twestival) and there are microbloggers for almost every cause from AIDS Healthcare (@AIDSHealthcare)to to Saving dolphins and whales (@SaveTheDolphins).  Lastly, it can be just plain fun!  Check out Sockington the Cat (@Sockington) to get a smile as a cat shares her quirky thoughts as she explores her masters house with over 1.2M of her followers know as the Sockington Army.

There are other tools in this space (Jaiku from Google, Plurk, Tumblr all come to mind) and each provides a little different spin on the basic premise of connecting to an audience with a short message. At one point I came across a listing of over 200 microblogging services form around the world, so no matter where you are, there is a microblogging tool and audience for you.

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