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A Guest Post by Matt Gierhart(@mattgierhart) from The New Celebrity, Levelland Social Media Workshop Presenter

Over the past month, I’ve had the chance to speak with a lot of different people from various businesses and organization in the Levelland/Lubbock area. Typically, after a brief description and history of my company the first question is about the value of twitter. It’s easy to criticize or write off the social networking site as a bunch of people announcing to no one in particular that they are going to sleep or that their cat has just rolled over.

It’s true, if twitter were groups of people causally announcing the mundane events of their boring lives then yeah, who would want to listen. But telling people “what you are doing” is only half of twitter. The other half, arguably the most important half, is listening.

If you’ve never been on twitter or even if you have do this for me, go to search.twitter.com. Below the search bar you should see a list of ‘Trending Topics’. Today is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing let’s click that. I have no idea what you will see next because these are the real time thoughts from people all over the globe on the Apollo 11’s anniversary. If the sample is anything like what’s live at 6 am this morning, you’ll see a little debate over if the landing was faked (side note: these people are fools) a link to a youtube video showing the time line of the landing, oh and Buzz Aldrin is being interviewed on TV.

The point is that all of this is happening now. If you go to google and search “Apollo 11” you will find wikipedia articles, NASA’s homepage, a link to an article about 30th anniversary (yikes!), but none of this is the real time web. These articles are very important, twitter is no replacement for google, but it does give us an entirely new perspective. It’s even more exciting when a breaking news story happens, think the Hudson River Airplane landing, the Iran Election or dare I mention Michael Jackson’s death again.

This search tool has politicians, marketers and all kinds of brand names very excited. It’s like eavesdropping on conversations about your company. Most of us aren’t politicians, marketers or own a major brand, but the listening aspect of twitter is still very important. In the spring of 2007, I gave a series of speeches about the internet’s need for curators. My argument was that searching the internet was like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. We need humans to find things we are interested, point us to information, people or websites that are actually useful. Twitter has evolved into that role quite well. I have several people I follow who tweet links to great news articles, really funny youtube videos, jaw dropping interviews with some of the best thinkers alive, tasty restaurants, anything. The point is that it’s the internet but curated by my friends. I could easily spend all day learning and being entertained from all the links and videos posted. Even better, sometimes I have a question so I’ll tweet out the question, something like “I’m hiring an intern in the Levelland/Lubbock area, any ideas?” Within two hours I had six applications in my inbox, four hours later I had an interview set up, and one day later I hired my intern.

Yes, the point of twitter is seductively simple, “what are you doing”

in 140 characters or less. But the power of twitter isn’t just in what you say, but to whom you are listening.

You can follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter.com/mattgierhart or join us on Friday, July 31, 2009 in Levelland as he demostrates how social media can be leveraged to build your business or community. Sign up at www.GoLevelland.com/sms Hurry, seats are limited. You can also follow the Levelland Economic Development Corporation on Twitter at Twitter.com/LevellandEDC

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Dave Quin

Matt is a former Levelland resident that graduated from Levelland High School in 1999. He is home for the summer while he works on several projects in the states. He lives most of the year abroad in London, UK.

Alan Pruitt

Matt: I am involved in Economic Development (Director, Western Arizona Economic Development District) and SBDC (Business Analyst). I would love to attend your July 31 seminar — any chance of being available remotely (video or web conferencing?)

Dave Quin

Alan, unfortuantley we are not planning to have this workshop avaiable remotely. However if you would like to visit with Matt about the workshop you can contact him at [email protected] or you can follow him on twitter @mattgierhart. Thanks for the comment.