Twitter for networking business: getting ready to step into a professional world

NU PRSSA, Entrepreneurs Club, and IDEA presented a social marketing event #trendingNU at Northeastern University on March 20. Click for more photos.

While some people are still posting their food pictures on Twitter, others have already started a new way to use social media. For those innovators, Twitter, or any other social media platform, can actually be a powerful networking tool for business use.

Tom O’Keefe, better known as the guy behind one of the most well known Twitter accounts, @BostonTweet, is one of those pioneers. During the past five years, he has been tweeting about life in Boston, sending out guides for food, events, breaking news, as well as job or business opportunities. Using Twitter as a main source to promote startups and local business is his current major career.

O’Keefe started @BostonTweet in November 2008. Because of the economic recession, in the very beginning he just wanted to try it out of desperation. However, with it working along successfully, he decided to continue it as a business.

“What I do is mainly being out attending networking events as well as talking about local businesses and restaurants,” said O’Keefe, who has about 80,000 followers. “Twitter makes it perfect for promoting local business. I can just take quick photos and tweet it in real time, instead of having to go home, write an article or blog post, which happens five hours later.”

Joselin Mane, owner of @BostonTweetUp, also saw the importance of using social media in his career.

“I think Twitter is one of the most innovative tools,” he said. “Once you understand it, it opens up the door for you to be able to connect with almost anyone in the world, especially for establishing your own brand.”

Mane used Twitter to build a new media event planning promotional service, helping companies promote and kick off events successfully. He believed that social media, primarily Twitter, has been redefining the way people connect in the world, and will continue to evolve in the upcoming years.

“I think Twitter is going to be more integrated into the applications or tools we use every day, giving us the ability to get information in real time,” Mane said.

In 2009, Time published an article about the future of Twitter, saying “as Twitter grows, it will increasingly become a place where companies build brands, send information to customers, conduct e-commerce and create communities for their users.” During these years seeing Twitter developing into a more professional platform, people can find a trend that it will be more used for business marketing and networking.

“It’s not really going to be called social media in the future. It’s beyond the communication or social tool. It’s connection tool,” Mane said when talking about the future of social media being used in business world. “It’s a way to do market research, a way to analyze, a way to let you know what’s going on in a certain area, to find out what’s happening among the customers so that you can make the decision on product, on services to provide. It’s going to be integrated in everything we do.”

At the same time, Mane pointed out that there are new challenges for startups who want to get involved in this new world of networking.

“The biggest thing that has changed in last several years in regards to social media is that it is becoming more mainstream and more into our daily life,” he said. “At the beginning it was mostly thought leaders, innovators and early adapters that were communicating. The community was smaller so that more what was being shared was visible. Now because of the quantity of the individuals that are on there contributing to the communication, it’s becoming harder to make strong connections.”

Mane suggested that those starting businesses build a strategy to use social networking system such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

“You definitely could take advantage of Twitter in your career. But it’s not easy,” said O’Keefe, who is also facing the new challenge. Instead of keeping all of his connections on Twitter, he is now starting a new business called BostonAve, to help make either personal or business connections between people in a relatively private networking environment.

Brooke Foucault Welles, assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Northeastern University, suggested college students starting thinking of using Twitter to build their own career path.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for young people. A lot of companies, politicians and individuals are now recognizing that they can use social media to make money,” she said. “Twitter is the platform that you can communicate directly to organizations you might be interested in. So you can start to tweet things and to create your identity on Twitter. In this way when companies search you as a job candidate, they will find you really are someone that is knowledgeable and engaged in this field already.”

Earthquake hits Sichuan, China

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Ya’an city in Sichuan, a southwestern province of China at 8:02 a.m. Beijing Time on Saturday.

An online platform was built up on Sina Weibo in an hour for people to update the situation in Sichuan area after the quake.

According to Xinhua News, the epicenter, with a depth of 13 kilometers, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude. So far 12 deaths have been reported.

Here is a news video clip of UKBreakingNews reporting the earthquake.

Sichuan is the province where the 7.9-magnitude quake happened in May 2008.

Shanghai student dies from suspected poisoning

Huang Yang, a 28-year-old postgraduate medical student at Fudan University in Shanghai, died from poisoning on Monday.

Huang fell ill after drinking from a water dispenser in his room at the college dormitory, said China Daily:

Suspecting foul play, police tested the water and found a toxic compound. Authorities did not elaborate, but media reports say the substance was N-Nitrosodimethylamine, which can cause liver damage.

There has been speculation online that Huang was poisoned by his roommate, Lin, due to jealousy over his good performance in a recent PhD admission test. Spokesman of Fudan University denied the speculation, and the police are still looking for related evidence.

According to the International Business Times, Huang’s father said that Huang actually thought the water from the dispenser tasted weird so that he changed the water and cleaned the machine to make sure his roommates wouldn’t have to drink questionable water:

“By last Friday, Huang Yang was swollen all over, practically unrecognizable,” according to a Weibo account by one of Huang’s friends. “The air coming out of his ventilator was bloody. His roommate poisoned the water dispenser in their room, which caused Huang to suffer from acute kidney failure and pulmonary emphysema in just a few days.”

* similar case*

This is not the first time that poisonings happen at top Chinese universities. Back to 1995, Zhu Ling, a undergraduate student at Tsinghua University, was known as the victim of thallium poisoning. Her life was saved, but she was almost completely blind with permanent paralysis and severe neurological damage.

The case drew great attention of Chinese media. After investigations, the police found Zhu’s roommate, Sun Wei, to be the only suspect. However, because of lack of evidence and Sun’s strong family background, the case has been remaining unsolved during the past 18 years.

China Daily reported the case again in 2006, 10 years after it happened.

Latitude News: where local meets global

Yesterday our class invited Maria Balinska, the founder Latitude News, as guest speaker to talk about her career path, and how Latitude News covers international news on a local basis.

Balinska started the Latitude News about a year ago. Before that she had worked for BBC for years. I think what makes Latitude News different with traditional international news websites is that Balinska chose to focus on more about American based global news, which makes the demographic of her website to be educated middle-age people, especially women, who want to get more information about what is going on in the world and how do those international news apply to American society.

Other than news articles, Balinska and her team also launched a program: Podcast. Every month they come up with an episode that brings the audience stories about ways in which American lives are linked with the rest of the world.

Django Unchained pulled from theaters in China

The American film, Django Unchained, was pulled from theaters in China on its opening  day with no given reason. Chinese media and netizens were filled with speculation that the film was censored because of few scenes with nudity, bloodshed and violence, said The New York Times.

The Los Angeles Times reported that China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) called stop just a few minutes after the premiere began.

“We had seen the credits and heard a few sentences of dialogue when the lights came on,” said Xue Yutao, a 26 year old photographer from Beijing, who was attending a 10:15 a.m. showing in Beijing’s fashionable Sanlitun neighborhood. “The manager came in and said he had received phone calls from both the SARFT and the cinema management telling him to postpone the showing.”

Wanda Cinema in Hebei Province posted a notice on Weibo, saying that the screening was suspended due to “technical problems.” All of the sold tickets will be full returned.

Wanda's Weibo post:"The name of the film should be changed to 'Django not unchained yet'."

Wanda’s Weibo post:”The name of the film should be changed to ‘Django not unchained yet’.”

Chinese netizens said that in spite of the name of “Django Unchained”, apparently Django is still being chained in China. It is not known yet whether the film can go back into the cinema.

News sources to learn what is happening in China

The two main sources I use for my blog posts are Sina Weibo and South China Morning Post.

With over 500 million users on it, Sina Weibo is a good place where you can learn what is going on in China and what Chinese people are talking about. It was launched in 2009, and has been growing fast during the past three years. On Weibo, People are always discussing about breaking news, especially those that mainstream media do not report because of censorship. I found their hot topics page very useful. On this page you can search for news either by content (social, financial, political, sports, fashion, entertainment, etc) or by date. I like using Weibo because information and news are updated very fast on it, and you will get to know what is going on even before you hear from any news media.

South China Morning Post is the first and one of the most famous English-language newspaper in HongKong. The newspaper is published in HongKong and not directly controlled by Chinese government, so that it has less bias when reporting news in China. The home page is clear and the sections are easy to follow. There are very few advertisements since it charges about $2 a week for subscription. There is also a Chinese-language website for the paper, but the contents are not as good as in the English version, which is what I hope they could improve a little bit.

Self-mocking Weibo post goes viral in China

Recently, a Weibo post has gone viral among netizens, joking that Chinese people could do nothing to protect themselves since the bird flu and smog weather occur at the same time:

“How to prevent from H7N9 (bird flu)?”

Expert: “Keep windows open, let fresh air in.”

“How to prevent from PM2.5 (smog)?”

Expert: “Close all the windows, do not go outside.”

“Wait so should I open the windows or not?!”

Expert:”That depends on how you would prefer to die…”

By retweeting the post, netizens are asking the government to take care of the two serious issues as soon as possible.