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March 28, 2007

There ACTUALLY ARE Legitimate Association Uses for Twitter

Last week I asked which association will be the first to try to use Twitter in its association. As with every new technology, we should expect a land rush of associations trying to be among the first to use it to advance their mission. Listservs, online communities, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. Associations are using all of the above. But what about Twitter?

After hearing about a presentation I gave last week to a group of association professionals responsible for cultivating student initiatives at state CPA societies around the country, my boss asked me what Twitter is. Somewhat off the cuff, I said it's like a personal blog on steroids for your cell phone. That's a pretty apt description, actually. So what good could it possibly be for associations?

Well, Twitter provides a simple and free solution for keeping your members in the loop about emerging situations in 140 characters or less on their cell phones, the most pervasive mobile device in the world. Situations where this would be useful?

Conventions/Conferences: At Great Ideas, the ASAE & The Center staff did a remarkable job of keeping the attendees in the loop about what was going on during the fire/evacuation. But, imagine if all attendees could have gotten short updates via cell phone instead of having to wait around for periodic announcements that were given in one place at one time? This is not a swipe at ASAE's staff by any stretch, but for those of you who were there, consider how AMAZING it would have been to get updates on cell phones.

Inevitably, if you hold outdoor events, you're going to run into weather situations when the decision to hold your event inside or out will be a last-minute call. Using Twitter to update attendees on changing locations/venues would be an awesome service, especially at huge resorts or convention hotels where walking back to your room for a jacket can be a 20+ minute diversion.

Twitter would allow you to provide instant updates on keynote addresses at your conferences. MacWorldLive boasts real-time updates from people in the audience. Those updates are done by techies. With Twitter you can do virtually the same thing with no investment of cash, and just a few minutes of time.

Legislative/Regulatory/Judicial: I can also imagine situations in the legislative or regulatory world where providing real-time updates to constituents about legislative votes, regulatory action and court rulings would be appreciated.

Some associations, including the Mississippi Hospital Association, are using text messages to compel their members to call their senators or representatives to express their views on certain bills. I see no reason why Twitter couldn't be used for this purpose.

So, surprise! There really are business uses for Twitter. I'm sure there are others. What opportunities do you see?

I'm trying to get my arms around all the possibilities, and have subscribed to Twitter. You can find me at and I've even added my Twitter RSS feed to the right-hand navigation bar of my blog so you can keep tabs on me.

Here are some other takes on productive Twitter uses:



WebWorkerDaily (check out #7)



Anonymous said...


Yes, I agree that Twitter has real potential for associations. I find it addicting. I wonder how long it will be before companies shut down access to the site for employees. It can be addicting.

Sorry to hear about the candy bar buddy!

By the way, my twitter info:

This Twitter thing could get totally out of hand.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Actually, the candy bar wasn't mine. No candy today. Had traditional southern fare for lunch. You know, BBQ, fries and Mountain Dew. That pretty much blew my calorie count for the day, so candy is off-limits.