Mortonites finding Twitter benefits

Nick Stroman

“What are you doing?”

It seems like a simple question, and when put into 140 characters or less, it is the essence of the hottest new social networking site: Twitter.

Twitter’s mission is to keep a person’s family, friends, and business contacts — and in some cases, complete strangers — connected through quick, frequent answers to that question.

For example, if a person sends out the text message “headed to Chicago for a concert” or “grilling out with the family” on his or her phone, the message would go out to every person who is a Twitter user’s “follower” on the site.

While the rest of the country seems all “a-twitter” and there are stories of more and more celebrities using the site to keep up with their fans or promote their latest ventures, is the trend simple enough to understand to catch on here at home?

Larry Stimeling, post service officer for the Morton American Legion Post 318, is a Vietnam veteran and said he uses Twitter to promote veterans’ advocacy issues.

“An example is on May 12, I received word that a Portland, Ore., air show would be charging admission to view a version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I used Twitter, Facebook and personal e-mails to start a campaign to stop this from happening,” Stimeling said.

At a rate of about once per hour, Stimeling posted links to the air show’s Web site along with the show organizers’ e-mail addresses on Twitter.

Stimeling said by May 14, a decision was made to remove the wall from the air show and on May 15, an article appeared in a Portland area newspaper.

Frank Hurd is one half of the Morton-based hip hop duo First Ave and said he joined Twitter to make sure he was connected to every possible outlet for his fans and customers.

“Being open to communication is of the utmost importance when trying to promote your brand and product. It can really bring attention to whatever you do online, and I highly recommend every business get its own Twitter account,” Hurd said.

“Promoting your business online requires an outreaching effort as well – don’t wait for the customers to come to you,” Hurd added.

Hurd said his experience of using Twitter has been mostly positive, and he likes the ease of updating it from his cell phone, as a person does not have to be sitting at a computer the whole time.

Hurd said he recently participated in an Internet rap cipher/contest called the “Twitter cipher,” started by producer Mike Kalombo and NFL wide-receiver Trent Shelton.

“The goal was to write a song about how we use Twitter on a daily basis and we could even add a little bit of humor,” Hurd said.

However, not everyone in Morton is a fan of the Twitter tweets.

Morton Fire Chief Joe Kelley said he joined Twitter but has not used it in some time now.

“I played around with using Twitter a little, but I have not found it to be a useful tool over other electronic mediums such as sending e-mails or text messages,” Kelley said.

Katie Jacob of Eli’s Coffee said while the business does have a Twitter account, Facebook tends to be the coffeehouse’s choice of advertising.

“I feel like we can do a better job on Facebook and our Web site for advertising events and specials because there is more space to put information. Frankly, I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring Twitter, so it may have some benefits I’m unaware of, but for now, Facebook has been great,” Jacob said.

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