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Featured in Vancouver Sun

Reachd Co-Founder Steven Jagger was featured in the Vancouver Sun on October 29. The article is "re-printed" below. You can find the article on the Vancouver Sun along with a video interview taken by Vancouver reporter Gillian Shaw

Keeping up-to-the-minute tabs on friends is all the Twitter
Users of a controversial new service can tell the world what they're up to - in 140 characters

Gillian Shaw
Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stephen Jagger's training company teaches businesses how to make social networking from Twitter to Facebook work for them. On one occasion a woman stopped him on the seawall when he was walking his Irish setter, Allie, and said she knew him from Twitter.
CREDIT: Ian Smith/Vancouver Sun
Stephen Jagger's training company teaches businesses how to make social networking from Twitter to Facebook work for them. On one occasion a woman stopped him on the seawall when he was walking his Irish setter, Allie, and said she knew him from Twitter.

Twitter as digital stalking, a potential terrorist tool and a waste of time? Or a networking tool and business imperative?

The latter, says Vancouver tech entrepreneur Stephen Jagger, who has the online social networking tool on the curriculum for his training company Reachd.com.

It's an opinion shared by at least three million as a growing number of users sign up at www.twitter.com to share everything from their business coups to what they ate for breakfast.

Blogging is old-school although, it's still on Reachd's social networking curriculum. Jagger advises business people they should try it all, focusing on the areas that work best for them and the ones they enjoy.

Twitter, a free service, brings micro-blogging to the masses. Businesses, small and large, are discovering it is a way to tap into what their clients and customers are saying and to share their own stories.

Businesses that ignore social networking are being left behind, according to Jagger.

"All businesses should have a social media director. In my company it's me," he said. "You have to be out there on the Internet, watching your company get ripped apart in Twitter. Someone should be out there defending your company, fighting for it, listening to what people are saying about it.

"It's reputation management."

The service, launched by a San Francisco start-up two years ago, initially as an in-house communications tool, has more than 2.3 million users and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Twitter should be all atwitter over the recent arrival of Yammer.com, a similar micro-blogging service that launched in September.

Twitter asks users to answer the question "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. Updates are known as tweets and can be read by others: a select list if the user wants to share with only those who get permission to follow them, or the whole world if updates are open to anyone.

Jagger has 239 followers on Twitter and he is following 179 people. Combine that with his 941 Facebook friends and Jagger has an instant connection to more than 1,100 friends, colleagues, clients and business associates.

"If I update Twitter, it will update Facebook and all of a sudden I have spoken to 1,100 people," Jagger said. "You could have it update your blog as well.

"It is an easy way to keep your whole online world somewhat up to speed."

In one example of how it has helped build business, Jagger pointed to a Twitter update about a new feature on Ubertor.com, another company he co-founded with partner Michael Stephenson and one that specializes in real estate websites. The weekend update resulted in short order in a new client signing on, from Augusta, Ga., far from Ubertor's Vancouver base but a neighbour in Twitter terms.

Jagger's updates are mixes of personal opinion, items about what he's up to - like his newsroom interview and videotaping for this story - and news from his companies. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sjagger and you'll find out he's a Canucks fan who was at the weekend game; where he has been asked to speak; and his favourite coffee shop in Yaletown, among other tweets.

"You think the minutiae of your business life is not of interest to people but it is, totally," Jagger said. "The idea behind it is letting people know what you are up to and the benefit of it is that it opens their minds to what you do.

"You can make yourself more known by talking about stuff that wouldn't rate mention in ads or on your website.

"It's not newsworthy. but it's Twitter-worthy. It costs you only one second of your time to update it."

As a time-waster, like a lot of the Web, it can be unparalleled, particularly if you are avoiding real-life imperatives - like the writing of this story. I managed to tweet twice (at www.twitter.com/gillianshaw) while I was supposed to be writing this. But Jagger said that like any networking tool, it just has to be managed.

"It's easy to be busy in the social media world and not be productive," he said. 'It's like you can go out to bars to socialize and network, but if you did that every day, you might not get anything else done. You need to do a little Twitter and then go have coffee with somebody in real life."

Jagger practises what he preaches, using the online world for his businesses in everything from meeting new clients to running a virtual office. When an expanding neighbour wanted Ubertor's trendy Yaletown digs, the company sent everyone home to work while it searched out a new home.

"After a couple of months we realized we didn't need a big expensive office space," said Jagger. The employees - it has five full-time, plus people on contract, mostly in programming and customer service - connect virtually online all the time and periodically in real life at coffee shops, restaurants or other meeting places.

"You can use social media and online tools to cut ridiculous expenses, cutting out big offices," said Jagger. "It's being different and people think being different isn't safe, but doing what everybody else is doing is what's not safe."

gshaw@vancouversun.com
© Vancouver Sun 2008