A few weeks ago, I found one of my coworkers on LinkedIn and added her as a contact there. The next day, I received an email from her explaining that she didn't really use LinkedIn very often and wasn't sure how it worked or how to use it effectively.
As with all social networking sites, I think you will get out of it what you put into it. I don't actually use LinkedIn very often (I prefer Twitter and Facebook), but I still maintain a presence on the site. My thought is that if someone wants to connect with you, make it easy for them.
To start out, having a completed, up-to-date profile that includes a photo is a must (this goes for most networks). This lets people know that you are actually active on the site, and that your message or invitation to connect won't sit in their inbox for months at a time.
You can take your level of involvement further than just maintaining an up-to-date profile. By answering a question in the Answers area of LinkedIn, I was able to make a good connection with someone that I would have otherwise never met.
I also always say that social media is social, and that when you are requesting to add someone as a contact don't just send the templated "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" message. Instead, personalize it. Remind the person of how you met, or if it is someone you know well send them a quick hello or maybe why you'd like to connect with them on LinkedIn. Just as a personalized, relevant pitch letter to a journalist can go a long way, a personalized, relevant inviation to connect on LinkedIn is worth a lot more than the service's pre-written invitations.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago after receiving a whole bunch of the pre-written inviations in a row, then recieving one that was personalized. In the future, I'll probably remember that one connection more than any of the others.
Now, this is by no means the definitive guide on how to use LinkedIn, and if nothing else has gotten me interested in learning more about it, and being a bit more active there.
"It makes you more findable for others, but even more importantly, when you initiate communication with someone else, the first thing they'll do is go and check out your profile. Even if your profile isn't that great, the fact that you've spent the time trying to make it comprehensive will tell them that you're serious, that you respect their time and attention, and that you want to use LinkedIn to its fullest capacity."
An article from last August called I Got My Job Through Social Networking was an interesting read, provided some interesting advice about asking for recomendations on LinkedIn. However, I feel odd about asking for recommendations on LinkedIn. it just seems forced.
What are your thoughts on the recommendation system on LinkedIn? Do you have any LinkedIn advice?
What an innovative idea - MAVERICK Public Relations is offering aspiring young PR pros a chance to win an internship.
According to the blog of Julie Ruscioelli (Maverick PR President and founder), " the lucky winner of the first MAVERICK Idol will be granted an eight-week paid internship at the award-winning PR firm during the summer of 2009."
The contest will take the form of two rounds, giving the participants a total of seven minutes to show that they've got the MAVERICK stuff. From the news release, it sounds like they're encouraging the applicants to be as creative as possible.
I think this is a great idea for a number of reasons. First of all, it is much more of a real-life experience than a job interview. Being in PR means giving a lot of presentations and having to sell your idea. With a format like this, MAVERICK is more likely to find an intern with the workplace skills they're looking for (and, as sometimes happens with internships, result in a full-time job later on). It also gives the aspiring intern a great chance to practice their presentation skills. Scotty Mac, who works at MAVERICK and is no doubt one of the brains behind this idea, adds that the presentations will only be in front of the MAVERICK judges, rather than in front of all the other applicants as well.
If you want to start a blog, start one about something you're interested in. Not only will you learn everything about social media and blogging that you might learn with a PR blog, but you'll also learn more about something else. While I don't doubt that you do care about PR/Communications/Social Media, I really like to think that you've got other interests (if not, then your problems are greater than my ability to help you with them).
If you're young and think you want to get your start in PR or communications, that's great. Prospective employers will be happy to see that you have a blog and are involved in the online space. They'll probably be happier still to see that you've got enough originality to think outside this realm, and become an expert in something that interests you. You'll also be able to demonstrate that you understand the other side of the media fence.
You can still be involved in the world-changing discussions about social media and the future of PR that happen all over the web these days by reading and commenting. In fact, by blogging outside the social media bubble you might even become more of an expert than some of those social media consultants and gurus.
If you are in PR and interested in reaching bloggers, the session is definitely worth a view:
Some of the main points are:
While I don't want to say that the
Anita: "Good pitches always included a lot of information, and gave it all up front so that I didn't have to ask a lot of questions."
"I don't like being bothered every other day, whether the post has gone up or whether I'm going to do this, because I have a full time job." And I think that most bloggers have a full time job. If they don't, and the blog is their primary job, then they are probably equally busy. Either way, the message is that PR practitioners should respect the bloggers time.
"people from the states pitch to me, and they don't sell
There is an immediate opening for a Multimedia Coordinator at CNW Group (my employer)!
From the official description:
As the Multimedia Coordinator you will be responsible for all elements related to the distribution of our video and photo services. You will be part of the overall Multimedia Production Team which is responsible for all our rich media products at CNW.
Your primary role will be to assist our Broadcast Producers and successfully manage all our Video Production feeds and our Photo Distributions.
You are able to work with clients, field calls directly, offer advice and support for the production. You will need to maintain good working relations with many of CNW’s various suppliers. Please note there will be after-hours work involved both at the office and remotely.
* Organize all broadcast production feeds including:
* Fulfill client orders
* Prepare advisories and instructions
* Book suppliers
*Arrange for tape shipments
* Manage all our web on-demand distributions
* Coordinate all tape distributions
* Prepare weekly and monthly tracking reports
* Book video crews
* Book photographers
* Produce Social Media Releases
* Process and distribute photos
* Assist on team projects as needed
Qualifications and Experience:
* Strong planning and organizational skills – able to identify all components of a project and appropriate resources which need to be applied. Able to follow the project through to completion ensuring all elements are completed properly and on time
* Understanding of the technologies used, key drivers, and trends in content delivery
* A good appreciation of video production
* Proven and demonstrable experience of web production
* Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, pertaining to both technical and non-technical information is essential
* Strong work ethics - take pride in your work and strive to exceed expectations
* Deadline oriented - ability to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines with a demonstrated willingness to work extra hours as required
* Strong sense of urgency – need to move quickly
* Assertive – professional with the ability to ensure co-operation of other departments and team members and capable of pushing others where required to achieve results
* Ability to work independently in a fast paced environment
* Impeccable attention to detail
* Self motivated and enthusiastic
* Knowledge of Social Media/Web 2.0 concepts
* Bilingual (English-French) an asset
If you are interested in the position, please email HR@newswire.ca.
The following post was written by Heather Morrison
At a recent IABC social sedia event last week the discussion of ‘buy in’ was brought up a number of times, from various perspectives. The question seems to be on every communicators mind – How do you convince your boss/CEO that social media is worth being involved in? How do you get buy in? How do you decrease the risks, and allay their fears.
The first question to ask is: What is their greatest fear or concern?
Costs? This is an easy one. Most social media applications have very little monetary costs associated with them. The real resource needed is time. Many companies combat this by starting small (think baby steps), and working together so that no one person feels over loaded with work.
Making a mistake? More than likely every company first entering into social media will make a few mistakes along the way (close to 50% of initial attempts will flop). But whatever happened to ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again’? With proper education, these initial mistakes will provide a good base for future initiatives.
Negative Feedback? There are two types of kids in every schoolyard - the kids who stand up to rumors and bullies, and those who hide from them. While those who hold their heads up might take an initial beating, they will ultimately gain more respect than those seen hiding their heads in the sand. Not everyone will agree with every opinion, post, or decision that you make. That said, people will agree and/or disagree whether you are part of the conversation or not. Social media allows companies to enter these discussions, learn from what’s being said, and provide feedback and perspective directly to their clients/prospects.It also provides an opportunity to sculpt future campaigns based on raw customer feedback.
There is far more to be afraid of by remaining disengaged and distant from your marketthan there is by becoming involved. You don’t want to miss the boat and let the conversation carry your brand and reputation down stream (think Motrin, Walmart, Wholefoods, Kryptonite, and Hertz). As Matthew Ingram once pointed, “you need to have a presence in social media to have a voice when you need it. Don’t try to jump in during the fire!”
This post was written by Heather Morrison, an Account Executive at CNW Group. She is new to the world of social media, but learning quickly. She's also the captain of my dodgeball team. -Parker
I am fairly new to ‘Twitterville.' logging in for the first time back in October. As a new user I remember how daunting the experience was. Looking at some other member profiles, with their thousands of followers, I wondered how I would ever get to that level. 2 months later, I am still nowhere close to being part of the Twitter elite, but I have noticed a steady a rise in the number of my followers.
For everyone who is new to the game, looking for some ‘newbie’ advice, here is what has been working for me. For all of you ‘Senior Twitizens’ out there, any added other advice is most welcome.
1. So you’ve signed up and chosen a user name, now what? Personalize your Twitter page. Include a picture of yourself, location, bio, and add character to your background design.
Remember that Twitter is about building your personal brand, and as with all branding, packaging goes a long way. Photos and personal information will tell people about who you are, and what you are about; potentially increasing the number of followers on your list.
2. Start Networking. Look at the contact lists you already have – friends, their follower lists, and colleagues are a good start. Once you follow them there is a good chance that they will reciprocate and follow you back
Bloggers are also a great resource when starting out as many will provide constant updates and have a keen understanding of how Twitter works. Most will include their Twitter profile on their blog or at the end of their posts.
3. Look outside your social network. I found that sites like twitdir.com and justtweetit.com are helpful for finding specific people or industries. Search.twitter.com is great for key word searching.
By sifting through some of these results you will find other people who are interested in the same topic or industry as you. Follow members you feel are most relevant and some will follow you in return.
4. Tweet! Now that you have some followers start tweeting. Make your voice heard throughout your network. Provide your followers with informative posts on topics that interest you, making it part of your daily routine (at least a post or two per day).
Being a regular contributor to the ‘Twittersphere’ will make you more available to like-minded users. When they are searching out topics of interest, they might come across your posts and decide to add you, allowing your twitter network to grow.
5. Market yourself. Don’t be shy! Give out your twitter account to various parties when an opportunity presents itself. Add it to your personal and professional email signatures and/or business cards.
6. Pay attention to conference/event #hashtags. As Twitter becomes more mainstream, it provides a good back channel of information, quotes, facts, and opinions for various events and conferences. I can attribute most of my recent growth to conference/event participation. By searching out the hashtag (search.twitter.com) you will find all the people who were twittering at that event (and what they were saying) and can add them to your list. For more information about the benefit of using hashtags and twittering at a conference, check out this post by Jeff Cohen.
7. Give it time. Success doesn’t happen over night. It will take time to grow and cultivate your social network. Track what works for you, and keep at it.
Help Heather build her Twitter empire by following her - she's HMorrison there.
If you know me, you know that I'm always trying to convert my friends to the latest and greatest social media tools.
For the most part, it hasn't worked. All it has done is remind me that I'm living in a bubble.
In fact, my only real success story is with my roommate Claudio who started a blog, a twitter account and has even been known to drunkenly describe Google Reader and using RSS to get his news as "life-changing."
My other roommate also writes a blog, and he refuses to use a reader to subscribe to RSS feeds.
"Why would I do that? I like visiting the pages," he once told me. Even after multiple explanations of how much more efficiently he would be able to absorb his diet of celebrity gossip and Toronto news sites, he still insists on visiting each one individually (I've even offered to buy him a proper domain name and I've set him up with a Twitter account in the hopes of getting him interested but .
I think it is a reminder that just because we are playing with some of the neatest online technology, it doesn't always make sense or appear useful to a majority of the population. Focus on creating a well-designed website that is easy to navigate. Offer an RSS feed, for sure, but also give your readers a chance to subscribe via email or give them updates via Facebook and Twitter.
I know that Google has been making strides to make RSS simpler (by referring to it as "following" and doing away with the technical terminology) but I still don't think most people are ready to subscribe to blogs that they like.
As fast as Twitter is growing in popularity, I still don't think that it will gain the kind of mainstream acceptance that will make people sign up for it and use it to follow blogs and writers that they like.
In fact, I recently commented to my roommate that the best way to get a girl to stop talking to you is to send her a text message telling her that you're into micro-blogging along with link to your Twitter account (I was right).
I watch the show occasionally, but really only pay attention to what they are doing because I subscribe to the RSS feed for their blog. Because of what I do and because it is easier to criticize than it is to create, I've got some suggestions for them about what they can do to improve their site and online work. Where possible, I've tried to generalize my suggestions so that they would work for other sites.
1.) Sign-up and Set-up Feedburner
Most blogs have an RSS feed automatically built into them, so that when you create a new post, your subscribers can be automatically updated. However, there is no easy way to find out how many people are subscribing with these built in feeds. Feedburner will let you track how many people are subscribing to your blog.
If you're using Wordpress, you can just install the Feedburner plugin after you've got a free Feedburner account. If you're using another blogging platform, you can sign up for the Feedburner account and provide a link on your blog.
Since all shows rely on advertising to keep going, knowing how many people are subscribing to the RSS feed is a great way to demonstrate to advertisers how many people they are reaching.
2.) Set Up An Analytics Tool
Just as Feedburner lets you know how many people are subscribing to your site, a tool like Google Analytics will let you know how many people visit your site, what pages they look at and how long they stay. Again, this is valuable for knowing what kind of online audience you have and to know what parts of your site are getting visitors and which aren't.
Careful - as any blogger will tell you, stats can be addicting.
3.) Use Links
Back in the day, the decision to link away from your site was a difficult one to make. Internet connections were slower, and I don't think it was possible to use tabs in any of the browsers. Directing people away from your site meant that there was a sure chance they wouldn't be returning.
These days, things are different. Pages load quickly, and you can go back and forth between different websites in seconds, or even open them up in another tab or window.
A phrase I'm fond of repeating is "the Internet is made of links." Navigating the web is done, for the most part, by clicking on various links. Its how information is shared, and by linking to someone else you are participating in the online world.
Yes, I am aware of the argument that linking to other people gives up your link juice. However, I think it is more important to provide value to visitors to your site by pointing them towards more information that they might be interested in.
4.) Incorporate Multimedia Content
The internet is a place for multimedia. Unlike a newspaper, a blog post isn't limited by column inches. Even more unlike a newspaper, a webpage can incorporate video and audio. Use these multimedia elements to tell your story and get your message out.
So what does this mean for Inside Fashion? Well, the world of fashion is full of beautiful images. My suggestion is that they incorporate more images into their posts, and actually show the clothing and people that they talk about in the posts. Fashion magazines aren't all text, so why should their website be? (Over the past few weeks, they've actually gotten better at posting images)
Since it is a show, and they are already posting their clips on the main page of the website, I think the Inside Fashion team should also post their clips to their blog. The more ways that they can get people watching it, the better chance they have at growing their audience and providing value to their advertisers.
(BlogCampaigning is also guilty of not incorporating enough images into our own posts, and I'm determined to change this).
5.) Put The Social In Social Media
Some people write blogs because they merely want a place online to store their thoughts and share them with a few friends. They aren't worried about how many people read what they write. However, most organisations have a blog because they want to generate awareness about themselves. While putting up a website is a good start, it won't get many visitors in isolation.
Linking to other bloggers and websites is one way to be social online. So is reaching out to other bloggers and the online community. If they aren't already, the Inside Fashion team should be reading some fashion blogs or getting in touch with the fashion world online.
This social activity extends beyond cyberspace, too. While I enjoy reading blogs written by my friends and colleagues, I feel that I enjoy them more because I've met these people in person. I can put a face to the writing, and I feel more comfortable commenting on their blogs and otherwise getting in touch with them. The Inside Fashion crew are a friendly bunch, and they shouldn't have a problem meeting up with other bloggers and the online world to help promote their show.
6.) Make Content Easy For The Internet Audience To Enjoy
As I mentioned earlier, I think that the internet is the future of television (or, I suppose, the death of television) but we aren't quite there yet. I think that most people aren't yet accustomed to watching full-length episodes of shows via YouTube or on a webpage, and would rather do so on a television. With that in mind, I think that the Inside Fashion crew should still focus on creating 22-minute long episodes for television, but should break these up into 2 or 3 minute clips and post these on their blog rather than the main part of their website.
I think that VBS (the broadcasting wing of Vice Magazine) has done a particularly good job of creating short, web-only videos. To see what, I mean, check out their 8-part series about immigration in LA called Illegal LA. Each part is only about three minutes long, and each is easy to watch on your computer monitor. If you're creating video content for the web, keep this in mind. While you might be the world's next greatest director and are able to keep people enthralled for a two-hour epic, it is probably easier (and cheaper!) to create a shorter video that will keep your audience tuned into for just a couple of minutes.
7.) Make Your Content Embeddable and Sharable
I think it is great that Inside Fashion is putting some of their footage and clips up on their website and letting their audience watch it freely. However, it isn't really possible for me to share those clips without making you leave this page. While I mentioned earlier that linking away from your site is fine, wouldn't you be much more likely to watch a clip form their show if it was embedded right here, on this page?
If you want people to watch your online video, make it easy to share. Upload it to YouTube (or better yet, Vimeo, because all reports seem to point to it being faster and more user friendly for uploading) so that people can repost it on their site.
While they do upload their episodes onto their YouTube channel, you can't find and use these clips from their website.
("But I want to control all of my content, and I don't want people to share it," you might say. Well I have news for you: if people want to share your content, they will.
Even though Inside Fashion didn't offer an embed code for their videos, I was still able to rip this one off of their site (using a program called Orbit), upload it to YouTube and embed it below.
Since people can do this anyways, make it easy and enjoyable for them to use your videos and photos: provide an embed code where possible.)
8.) Make The Blog The Main Part Of The Website
Blogs are great because they constantly have new information. For the 90% of the population that doesn't use RSS, a homepage that is constantly changing gives them a reason to come back for new content and information. While it is great that main page for Inside Fashion always has a featured episode, I think it would be far better if they refresh that content more often. Having the blog as the main page would enable them to do this more easily.
9.) Connect The Dots
Inside Fashion also has a page on Facebook, and a YouTube channel but you wouldn't know that from their website. In each online space, make it easy for fans and interested people to connect to the other online spaces. The more channels that you can distribute your message across, the more likely you are to gain an audience. Some people will watch the show on TV, but others might prefer to watch the videos on YouTube or catch up by way of the blog. The point is that there are a ton of free distribution channels like this out there, and that by reaching each one you have the potential to reach an entirely new audience.
(While you're linking to your other websites, always remember to add the http:// in front the web address. Without this, some sites and message programs won't recognize it as a link and the user will have to cut and paste or retype the address into their web browser rather than simply clicking on the link - make it easy for your audience!)
What do you think about my suggestions? What would you do if you were working for Inside Fashion?
Occasionally we're lucky enough here at BlogCampaigning to have someone guest write a post for us. The latest person to share their knowledge with our readers is Malte Goesche, CEO and cofounder of Iliktotallyloveit.com, a website that "allows users to publish and share products with the broader public which they find cool, innovative, exceptionally beautiful, or just weird. Included with every item is a link to an online shop where it can be purchased." He's written a post for us about how his company got a great deal of publicity without the help of PR companies or newswire services.
If I say it is not that hard to get into the pages of the Financial Times, you might not believe me, even though it only took two well-written emails to get there. Of course, I’m leaving out a lot about building a startup (from having the idea to build the product and get funded), but this is supposed to tell you more about how we built and established the brand of iliketotallyloveit.com.
Out of our team of four, one of my jobs was to get our name out there. Since I didn’t take PR & Marketing 101 I just did what I thought would be the way to do it: find publications (online and offline) that I liked myself and found suitable, then get in touch with the the right person at each publication, approaching them as directly and personally as possible. It sounds easy, but I think my naivety back then saved me from making many mistakes (I guess that’s what these 101 classes would’ve been good for). I didn’t write press releases or generic emails. By browsing through the chosen publications I found out which authors would be the right fit and then I went ahead and introduced myself via email as what I was back then: a student who had a website with some friends and who would be happy to hear some feedback or a have some review their site. I wasn’t pretentious, didn’t lie and never bullshitted anyone. People seem to have appreciated that a lot.
I believe that approaching people on an eye-to-eye level is very important. When you are writing (I intentionally don’t use the term pitch here due to its spammy connotations) to a smaller blogger you don’t want to come off as the big-headed founder of a startup, just as another internet/tech savvy person/fan who wants to share what he created with others. Be approachable and open to people. Even if whomever you reached out doesn’t write about you right away they might remember you and get back to you once your startup is just the one they need to write about at some point. To go back to the article in the FT, in this case I was lucky, because I emailed the journalist right when she was researching a piece going into our direction. Sometimes a little bit of luck helps.
When writing that email try to keep it short and simple. Remember that you are writing to a human being and don’t just copy and paste some impersonal marketing piece. Let the recipient know that you did your research about her/him and why you think that they could be interested in your product. Just imagine you are meeting that person face-to-face somewhere and act/write accordingly.
After putting in weeks and weeks into researching journalists and bloggers and then writing emails, quite a few publications wrote about us and we also started to write few press releases. I don’t really know about press releases. We did spend the money on sending one out through PR Newswire once with zero response. Unfortunately, it was just a waste of time and cash; as a small startup €800 is real money. Here I think it depends on what your product is and I believe it can’t hurt to try it once. If the ROI is satisfactory, great and if not you know where you can save some money in the future and you've learned a lesson.
I like to rely on my personal mailing list that I built and keep building. Sending a message out through it every few months has always brought good results.
Some people will also tell you to hire a PR agency. That of course depends on so many factors. If you are a small startup you might not want to spend a monthly flat fee (I found that they usually started at around $10k for mid-sized agencies) for many services you might not need, but it all depends. If no one in your team wants or can handle the PR work this might be the right type of thing to outsource. Some startups grow so fast and have so many press requests coming in that it makes sense for them go down that road. I can only speak for us, and say that so far we haven't needed a full blown PR and marketing package. Although we did spend some money to get some advice from a few experts, I believe there is nothing we can’t handle ourselves.
Well, this post was very long considering that my main message is actually very short: Try different approaches and see what works best for you. Do some PR A/B testing, carefully evaluate the results and sort out what didn’t do the job. Learn those lessons and keep moving forward. Or, as the world's best basketball player Michael Jordan once said:
“I have failed over and over and over again in my life – and that is why I succeed.”
She was talking with someone else in line, so I had a few minutes to think on my feet. I came up with a solution that, honestly, I thought was goofy at the time, but that I’ve grown to appreciate. I thought “I need a memorable, personal (i.e., not the firm) domain precisely for this situation…one that functions solely to convey my contact info to folks I meet.”
I checked a few domains and settled on IMetMatt.com. I told my new friend about my gaff on the business cards, and then mentioned the domain (not mentioning the fact that I wouldn’t purchase it until later that evening). “Remember - I Met Matt - Go there tonight and jot down my info.”
End of story: She called, several times in fact. Calming your conscience for $7 and keeping in touch with people, not a bad investment!
Over the course of the summer, a bunch of my friends have started to express interest in starting their own blogs.
One group of friends feels that having a blog will help create an online presence for their band, A Northern Drawl.
Another friend created a blog to share her stories of late-night debauchery and celebrity searching in Toronto.
My friend Sarah asked me to help her set up a blog for her trip to South America.
And my new roomate told me that he wants to start a blog to use as an online resume for his video work (I'm hoping that my other roommate will resume writing the always-excellent T-zero blog about Toronto culture and breakfast now that he has returned from an overseas stint).
In short, they all want an online presence for themselves and since I'm known amongst them as "the guy that knows stuff about the internets," they've come to me for advice.
While I'll be happily helping them when I get a chance, I thought I'd also share some of the advice I'm giving them with the readers of BlogCampaigning. Hopefully you'll be able to give them some additional advice, or point them in the right direction when you think I've lead them astray.
My advice for starting off has been that they should get a Twitter account.
Why? Because Setting up an account on Twitter is a lot like starting a blog.
Following people, having them follow you and experimenting with some of the tools that work with Twitter are a great introduction to how things like RSS and other social media tools work. For example, I showed my roommate how he could set up an account on The Hype Machine (a website we both think is pretty sweet) so that everytime he favorited a song there it would alert his Twitter followers.
Customizing Your Twitter Profile
Customizing your Twitter profile is also a good introduction to customizing your own blog and working with web tools. I've got nothing against blogs based on templates or Twitter accounts that use the default colors and background image, but I think that taking the extra step in customization is very important. Just as Seth Godin equates downloading and installing Firefox as the equivalent to applying for college or university. As he writes: "the kind of person that puts the effort into getting into and completing college is also the kind of person who succeeds at other things."
Customizing your Twitter profile will help you learn about image editing (as you decide what to use as your profile image and as a background image) and hexadecimal colors. If you aren't quite sure what you want your blog to look like, playing around with colors and images on Twitter is an easy way to get started.
Doing this sort of customization will also help people identify you more easily, and will help distinguish you from the legions of spammers (when was the last time you followed someone that didn't have a Twitter profile pic? When was the last time you subscribed to a blog based on an unmodified Kubrick template?).
"I don't really get it," "how do I know who to talk to?" and "who is going to want to listen to what I have to say?" are three of the most common things I hear from my friends when I'm telling them about how to get started on Twitter.
My response to this is to just dive in and get started. I wrote before how I thought that Twitter is like an online cocktail party, full of different conversations that you can either choose to ignore or join (just like a real cocktail party). In both cases, no one cares if you are a wallflower and just listen. Chances are, they won't interact with you either. To be part of the "conversation" you'll have to speak up. In Twitter, this amounts to sharing links that you think are interesting, responding to things other people have said, or simply adding your own opinion ("conversation" in quotation marks because I'm cringing at how cliched that word has become even though it is the only one that works here).
If you're in Toronto (or love it or are thinking of visiting) be sure and check out my other roommate's blog Tzero. It is especially great if you're looking for reviews of breakfast places in the downtown area.