There's a new kid on the social media block that's starting to garner a lot of attention from companies.

Microblogging sites, such as Twitter, are increasingly becoming a companion to an existing blog—or a standalone strategy for businesses that are using social media to connect with their customers.

But many companies aren't sure what the microblogging "rules of the road" are. This is where Connie Reece comes in. 

Connie was an early adopter of Twitter and is considered a true microblogging authority. She will be moderating Best Practices in Microblogging session at Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and she was kind enough to give us a preview of that session, as well as a primer for companies that want to learn more about Twitter and other microblogging sites. 

Q: Microblogging seems to be the hot area of social media recently. What exactly is a microblogging site, and what makes it different from a blog?

A: "Microblogging" is a misleading term, in my opinion. "Micro" is accurate, because the popular services like Twitter strictly limit content to 140 characters, about the length of the average text message. It's the "blogging" aspect of the term that is fuzzy. Even though you can pack a lot of information into 140 characters, the content and format are much less structured than a blog.

Sometimes you'll see these sites referred to as "presence" applications; in other words, they are a quick and easy way of being "present" with friends who are far away. This phenomenon was aptly termed "ambient awareness" in an excellent article by Clive Thompson for the New York Times: "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy."

Each little update—each individual bit of social information—is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends' and family members' lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier