The Journalistics team was sitting around a couple of months ago, talking about the various apps out there for Twitter, and applications of Twitter technologies for PR and marketing uses. As part of a larger project we’re working on behind the scenes, we started brainstorming about faster ways to find experts on Twitter, beyond searching keywords, scouring directories, or scanning #followfriday shout-outs.
Of course, any Twitter user can tweet an expert request to their followers, but depending on how you use Twitter, the size of your following, or your expert need, your followers might not have a suggestion for you. Or your followers might miss your tweet altogether, resulting in no responses. Even with 6,000 or so followers for @journalistics, we still only get a suggestion or two when we pose a question to our followers.
Is There a Faster, Easier Way to Find Experts on Twitter?
This was the question that lead us to develop ExpertTweet, a new Twitter application that enables any Twitter user to tweet a request for expert suggestions to the ExpertTweet community. Twitter users following @experttweet are actively engaged in scanning ExpertTweet requests and are more likely to see the tweet and respond with an expert suggestion.
Rather than issuing the request through your own Twitter account, you fill out an ExpertTweet request through our Web client (logging in with your Twitter credentials). Your tweet automatically includes your Twitter handle, so other users can reply or DM you with their suggestions. If you want to see a recent list of expert requests, you can either browse ExpertTweet’s tweets on Twitter, see recent requests at ExpertTweet.com, or search the hashtag #et (automatically added to ExpertTweet tweets).
Where We’re At With ExpertTweet
We just launched ExpertTweet, so we’ll call this our Beta version. We realize with such a small number of followers today, you may have limited success finding the expert you’re looking for today. Then again, each person that follows ExpertTweet expands the value of the service for everyone involved. We created ExpertTweet as a free service for you, to help you find the experts they’re looking for through Twitter. We didn’t develop it to compete with any other expert-matching services out there, as many of them do a better job at screening responses than ExpertTweet does (we don’t screen responses).
On the other hand, if you want some quick suggestions for experts you might want to follow or reach out to, ExpertTweet couldn’t be faster or easier for you to use. We think Twitter is the perfect medium for finding and connecting with others that know more about a subject than you might. This is our loose definition of the word “expert” with ExpertTweet.
Who Should Use ExpertTweet?
We built ExpertTweet to be open-ended when it comes to that question. We’re not limiting its use to people searching for a particular type of expert. It’s up to you to decide whether or not your need for expertise can be met by ExpertTweet, or whether your expert suggestion is helpful for another Twitter user. That said, we think some obvious users of ExpertTweet might include:
- Event organizers looking for speakers or panelists
- Reporters or bloggers looking for quick source suggestions, comments on a topic, or other quick feedback
- Entrepreneurs and business owners looking for expert advice
- Employers looking for suggestions on candidates
- Authors looking for sources for a book
- Consumers looking for expert advice on purchases
If you need an expert on a topic or issue, all you have to do is ask ExpertTweet’s followers (that’s the vision anyway).
A Few Obvious Guidelines for Using ExpertTweet
We’re not big on rules, and we don’t want to police this service. We also realize there will always be a few bad apples in the bunch that decide to abuse a cool service like this. So here are a few guidelines we suggest for responsible use of ExpertTweet:
- No Spam Policy – we realize there are spam risks to the system and we are prepared with some counter-measures we hope we don’t have to use, so please don’t spam ExpertTweet followers. If you attempt to spam ExpertTweet followers with any tweet other than a request for expertise or comments on a subject or topic, you will be banned from using ExpertTweet.
- Profanity, Vulgarity – you have to be nice and polite when using ExpertTweet. If you are unprofessional using the system, or you insult or otherwise make a derogatory comment about ExpertTweet or its followers, we will block you. Constructive feedback is welcome. Big meanies are not.
- Be Clear and Concise – if you can’t summarize your request in a single tweet, it’s probably too complicated for this medium. Please keep your request to a single tweet, you should be used to the character limits by now.
- Only Suggest Relevant Experts – if you respond to an expert request with anything other than a legitimate, helpful suggestion, we have the right to block you. If somebody is looking for an expert on oranges and you suggest an expert on apples, we might frown on that. Other followers may call you out for being off topic as well, which we have no problem with. Avoid the embarrassment and keep your suggestions relevant.
That’s it really. We just wanted to build something cool that added a little more value to the Twitter experience for you. We hope you like ExpertTweet and use it. And we hope you tell your followers about the service too. Remember, the more people that follow ExpertTweet, the better and faster you’ll be able to find experts when you need them.
Thanks for your help. We look forward to getting your feedback on ExpertTweet.
Some Expected FAQs:
In our discussions with some early testers, the following questions kept coming up. Before you ask, here are a few FAQs for you:
- Why did you create ExpertTweet? – we saw a need for a faster, easier way to find experts on Twitter. And, some tech nerds on our team wanted to play with the Twitter API. Oh, and our designer really wanted to create a cool looking bird (we call him Nerdy Bird). Really, we just thought it would be fun to build and launch.
- Will you charge for your service? – nope. ExpertTweet is free and will stay free. Journalistics is covering the cost of hosting the service, so you’re all set. We have no business plan for ExpertTweet, it was just a fun side project for us.
- Are you trying to compete with HARO? – heck no. We love HARO and don’t think for a second that ExpertTweet is a legitimate alternative. If you’re a journalist looking for a source, and you want to avoid off-topic pitches and other “PR spam”, nothing beats HARO. We see ExpertTweet as being in a different category – it’s really for finding experts for advice or to follow on Twitter. Plus, did you see what happened to the last company that tried to copy HARO? No thanks. We use HARO and so should you.
- Is this the “big product” you’ve been talking about? – some of you know we’ve been working on a product behind the scenes. ExpertTweet is NOT that product. Though playing with the Twitter API was work-related, if you catch our drift. We’re getting close to launching that puppy into Alpha (you know, the stage before Beta). If you want in, email us to get on the list.
- What about spammers? – we addressed this above, but we’re against spam on ExpertTweet. There will probably be a few violations, but those users will be blocked immediately. Likewise, people suggestion random or off-topic experts may be limited from using ExpertTweet as well. We want the service to be high-quality for you.
- Isn’t your service useless without followers?- ah, yes, the classic Chicken vs. Egg thing. You see, we’re only in Beta. We may not have a lot of followers yet, but that’s where you come in. The more followers we have, the more value expert-seekers or would-be experts will get from ExpertTweet. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution and follow us. Plus, we do have some followers. Hopefully we’ll have a bunch more after you all read this.
- Do you really think a reporter would use your service? You’re stupid. – go ahead, laugh. I guarantee you we’ll get some feedback like this. ExpertTweet won’t be for everyone. Responses to your expert requests are bound to vary in quality. Reporters aren’t our target audience for ExpertTweet, the average Twitter user is. That said, there are some great potential uses for ExpertTweet in the news-gathering process. For example, asking for some quick comments on a breaking news story or taking a quick poll of our diverse audience. For near-instant feedback like this, ExpertTweet could be ideal. If you don’t like ExpertTweet, you don’t have to use it.
- How can I give you Feedback or Suggest an Idea? – great question. You can post a comment below, send us an email, post your Issue or Suggest an Idea in the ExpertTweet Forum, DM @experttweet on Twitter, or yell really loud (we’re listening).
As always, thanks for reading the blog. We hope you’re not upset that we’re using it as a platform to shamelessly promote our free and useful service that we built to help make your life easier.