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RED BANK GOES TWEET, TWEET, TWEET

preston-twitterPreston Porter is the “social media chef” for Basil T’s and Undici restaurants. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Chicago may be a toddlin‘ town, but Red Bank is tweetin.’

A new study shows that the borough has one of the highest densities of Twitter users in New Jersey, coming in ninth overall among its towns and cities. According to the independent study, conducted by the communications and publications firm Jaffe Communications, Red Bank has 17.61 users per 1,000 people.

Twitter’s 140-character message limit fits a broad spectrum of users, and you can tell by a simple search who in town is taking advantage of it — store owners, professionals, bands, students. redbankgreen, for example, touts each new article under @redbankgreenman.

“It’s become part of the everyday language,” said Tom Sullivan, a web developer who lives in Middletown and works on Broad Street.

tom-twitterTom Sullivan, who works in Red Bank, shares news, thoughts and links on Twitter. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

He’s probably better known as @robotictom, his personal Twitter handle. Or @noturnonred, the name he uses for professional matters, such as e-commerce. Sullivan says Twitter enables him to quickly find out what’s going on in the world and let others know what’s going on around him. He tweets about an array of topics, ranging from news to where he’s having lunch.

“It’s just a very, very valuable tool to share information, share ideas and kind of throw a question out there and see what happens,” he said.

@Mrs. Red Bank, aka Donnalyn Giegrich, sees a ton of potential in “engaging in the Twitterverse.” The insurance agent/motivational speaker/beauty pageant maven puts on clinics on Friday nights afternoons to give insight how to properly use Twitter to your advantage. She’s dealing with the everyone from the novice to the salty pro looking to hone his or her skills, she said.

And, “I’m sold out a week in advance,” Giegrich said.

So she’s not surprised Red Bank has so many tweeters, although she’d like to see a higher ranking in the future. Giegrich sees tweeting as nothing more than a free, easy-to-use way to get the word out, whatever that word is.

For her, it’s Red Bank.

“I’m all about Red Bank. It’s never about you, it’s always about promoting somebody else,” she said.

But using the increasingly-popular site can often be time consuming and become more work than you ever bargained for when signing up. Take it from Preston Porter, who’s juggling three Twitter accounts daily.

Actually, it’s his job.

Porter is the “social media chef” for Victor Rallo Jr.’s restaurants, Basil T’s in Red Bank and Undici in Rumson. In between writing newsletters, editing videos and posting Facebook updates, Porter, of Red Bank, is monitoring for any news or information coming across the Twitter wire that’s relevant to beer, wine and food. Then he shares his own news and information. It moves around the Internet quickly and he’s on to the next thing, be it his personal account or scanning for feedback from his followers.

“It’s kind of a triple split personality,” Porter, 23, said.

Since he’s a relative newcomer to Red Bank — he grew up in Lavallette — Twitter has also allowed him to make new friends and put faces to the names he’d been following online. Last year, Basil T’s hosted what the technorati call a “tweetup,” in which Twitter users pick a time and place to mingle, geek out or otherwise socialize in the real world.

Some people find they can easily live without Twitter, of course. Seventeen-year-old Sean Rempel gave it a shot, mainly to follow celebrities, and found it wasn’t for him.

“I put a couple things up there, but then I realized it was pointless so I stopped,” he said.

That’s a response one might expect from an older generation of Luddites. But as Rempel sat around a table full of peers at free-WiFi enabled Zebu Forno last week, only one other person, Dani Berkowitz, admitted to finding value in Twitter.

Berkowitz, 17, uses the site much as Porter does. She’s an actress, so whatever auditions she has coming up or new ideas she comes across, she tweets it, then moves on.

“I just put my name out there and hope somebody sees it,” she said.

Will there continue to be high numbers of people, and many more, using this social media phenomenon in Red Bank, though?

Giegrich, Porter and Sullivan suspect so. All have made it part of their lives. Most any Red Bank business you can think of is using it. Even Borough Hall tweets its upcoming meetings, agendas and other resources.

Really, it’s no wonder Red Bank is so high on the list of Twitter users.

“It’s definitely very usable,” Sullivan said. “It’s very powerful right now.”

You can check out Jaffe’s study here: twitter-study

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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