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Generation Y

Twitter Rediscovered: The Why, What, And When Of Microblogging

A few months ago I started using Twitter. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. I created a profile and I tweeted a few times, but I really struggled to understand the concept or even really like it.

A few months ago I started using Twitter. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. I created a profile and I tweeted a few times, but I really struggled to understand the concept or even really like it.

I decided that my journalism background was making it difficult for me to transition into the world of micro-blogging—and really validate any worth from 140-character updates. But as a generational expert, I knew I had to learn more about Twitter and why younger generations are using it.

So I delved into researching the Twitter phenomenon to answer for myself—and others—why tweet onTwitter? Yes, celebrities as diverse as Richard Branson and Britney Spears are using Twitter to tout their appearances and correspond with fans. But what’s in it for me besides access to lots of idle chitchat?

And I discovered that Twitter is SO much more than a microblogging platform. Twitter is actually a very complex tool that is changing the way we do business and companies can and are generating real ROI from it.

Here’s a quick guide to maximizing your tweeting time.

WHY TWITTER?Twitter, the popular micromessaging service, launched in 2007 and is the fastest-growing social media service. Its user base grew by a whopping 1,841% in 2008, to 14 million.

Twitter is considered the most conversational medium in the world. It’s immediate, public, and searchable.

Twitter — which can be used on any cell phone or computer — has been a hit almost since its inception, but businesses have really delved into Twitter in the past year. For example, @Comcast has set up what has effectively become a help desk on Twitter, while @JetBlue, @Zappos, and @Starbucks interact with hundreds of thousands of their followers.

It’s never been easier to communicate about your company or to know what others are saying about your company.

WHAT TO DOTwitter doesn’t cost a dime. The only investment is time. Simply create a profile with a Twitter ID (all Twitter IDs start with “@”) and subscribe to (or “follow”) the 140-character updates (or “tweets”) of anyone you can find who seems interested in your industry.

Here are the best practices for posting business tweets on Twitter:

Consider your brand.Start by creating a branded company Twitter profile.  Assign a key person(s) to post news, job posts, articles, and other relevant business information.

Follow everyone on your staff who uses Twitter. Follow colleagues in related companies and in your industry. Follow relevant brands and journalists and pundits in your market, even those who compete with you. It’s polite to follow people. And by following people you are creating an ecosystem—people will see who you are following and consider those as suggestions for users they should follow as well.

The key is to share timely and relevant information and to be conversational and genuine. Use the service as an advertising channel or newswire for press releases, and you’ll blow your chances with a lot of users.

Start tweeting.Don’t be a Twitter wallflower. Engage in conversation with the people you are following and your followers. Then, when you need to speak with someone about an opportunity, you’ve already established rapport.

Be varied and creative in your tweets. To keep it real and not boring or spam-like, tweet on a variety of topics including industry-related items of interest and sprinkle in the occasional personal tweets.

Consider searchability.First, follow @hashtags on Twitter. They will follow you back automatically, and your hashtags will be tracked. Next, start using hashtags (#)in your tweets, preceding key words. It can be helpful to do a little research first, to find out if the subject you’re tweeting already has an established hashtag. Track other tweets on the subjects you’re interested in (ie: those containing the appropriate hashtags) by browsing/searching at Hashtags.orgTwitterGroups, or Twemes, which provide real-time tracking of Twitter hashtags.

Help your searches by using a third-party tool such as TweetBeep, which alerts you to tweets relevant to your search. Or you may want to download Tweetdeckto organize tweets.

Twitter Search is an incredible tool that allows you to find virtually anything and anyone by adding the ability to search for key words, locations, phrases, and more!  Type in any word and you’re guaranteed to get real-time results.  

Get retweeted.If you say something interesting or useful on Twitter, other users can re-post the information using RT (which is short for retweet). This is a great way to get your information spread far and wide. A good rule of thumb is to retweet every 15 times for every one retweet you hope to receive.

Track every sale.Sure, Twitter’s relatively cheap, but you still want to know you’re getting something for the human effort. Try Twitter promotions and see if it makes a difference in revenue.

@DellOutlethas been one of the biggest success stories amongst big companies using social media. This account owned by Dell tweets out major discounts for Dell computers and products. All of the deals on @DellOutlet are Twitter-exclusive. Twitter’s phenomenal growth and Dell’s social savvy have pushed sales from @DellOutlet to over $2 million after about 18 months of tweeting.

Sell last-minute inventory.Twitter’s immediacy is its biggest strength — so use it to pump up business during lulls or discount last-minute unsold goods. Use LocalTweeps,a local Twitter directory, to find same-day deals via Twitter.

WHENExperts recommend tweeting between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pacific time. The West Coast is up and at work and the East Coast is eating lunch at their desks and checking Twitter.

Another rule of thumb: Limit Twitter usage to a maximum of 30 minutes a day. During that time, follow relevant industry peers and search for anyone mentioning your company or keywords and topics of interest. These are tweets that might lead to new business.

Other TipsTwitter doesn’t offer an official picture posting feature of its own, however, most people use a third party application called TwitPicJust enter your Twitter user name and password to get an email address you can send pictures to.

Get Satisfactionis a great site that people use to help each other figure out problems on Twitter.  They call it “people powered customer service” because people are there, helping each other out.  If you’re looking for help using Twitter from other Twitter users, this is a great resource. If you’re looking for official Twitter Support, you’ll find it by clicking on the Help link from

Mr. Tweet automatically generates lists of potential connections to take some of the hunting out of finding new Twitter contacts. All you have to do is follow @MrTweet, and he’ll provide you with a link to a site where you can view a list of matches made based on your tweeting habits and profile.

Tweet O’Clock crunches the numbers for you so that you can quickly and easily find the time during which someone is most likely to respond to contact via Twitter. All you have to do is type in a user name, and it spits out the day of the week, and the time during that day when they are most likely to be monitoring and responding to tweets.

With millions of people using Twitter each and every day, Twitter is a constantly evolving tool that has become increasingly important for communicating with the world, finding new business leads, and even generating sales.

I never would have thought that was possible to achieve in just 140 characters! I thought wrong.

Follow me on Twitter!


Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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