So I wanted to call this post “to tweet ot not to tweet,” but that is clearly played out.
After being a pretty avid user for the past 6 months or so, I thought it was time to save some observations and tips. I first joined Twitter to update my Facebook status without using a data plan from my cell phone. (Yup, I’m cheap.)
Here are some upfront notes: my tips are aimed at people who are using twitter for b2b marketing, market research, networking or personal branding the tips might not apply to you if you have different goals and objectives.
Let’s get started. Here are my tips on using twitter effectively:
Choose your name wisely. With your online identity you have a couple of choices. Use your real name, use your nickname, use your hacker name, or be random. If you are trying to brand yourself, I’d stick to something that is a lot closer to your name and a lot further from Britneys1stfan. But don’t forget that in Twitter characters count. So if you have a 20 letter last name, please don’t follow the first_last format. Considering that every reply or direct message much include your username, you don’t want to eat up 40 characters on the name alone. Try to stick with something in the neighborhood of 20 characters or less.
Follow your interests, not the crowd. There are zillions of “best people to follow on Twitter lists.” They usually include celebrities: tech, pop culture or business. These lists are irrelevant if those people don’t discuss stuff you care about. Seek out people that discuss the topics you are interested in. Use Twitter search to look for conversations using keywords you are interested in. Look at your favorite blogs, magazines, newspapers, organizations, and people to see if they are on Twitter. That’s who you should follow — not the 100K+ follower-club members because they are on the list.
Be yourself (the multi-faceted version). So sometimes, especially if you are tweeting for business, it is hard to get the right tone. Remember, Twitter is an inherently casual medium. If people wanted to read corporate-speak all the time, they’d read your website, press releases and so on. Be yourself. If you like coffee, feel free to talk about it. If you saw a movie, that’s OK. We don’t assume that a person (not a brand or company) on twitter only reads industry articles and engages in commentary on the industry in which they work 100% of the time. So engage your followers with some real insight on who you are. Personally and professionally.
Take your offline connections online. Before the social media explosion, you’d meet someone at a conference or a party or an outing. And then maybe you’d get their number or email address. And maybe you’d actually initiate the first contact with them. Now you can just add them to your network. Professional, personal, LinkedIn, Facebook, and of course Twitter. You can stay passively connected or send them a personal message. Easily and quickly. Without much digging. So next time you are out, and you exchange info with someone, add Twitter to the list too. My twitter followers include high school friends, family, my PR person, industry journalists, analysts, vedors, and of course people I’ve never met in person. (See the tip above about being yourself). Suddenly you can connect with them more quickly. And build the relationship. Online and off.
Don’t forget your conversations are public. Yes, you can protect your updates and approve your followers one by one. But this is pointless if you are tweeting for business or personal branding. Tweets are forever and search-able. Be sure to censor yourself with this in mind. You don’t want to be like this job seeker. Even when sending direct messages. If it is really, really private you might want to use a different medium to converse.
It’s not a numbers game. Yesterday I saw this website promoting a pyramid scam to get more followers. Let’s think about it, do you really want to follow people who’s sole purpose is to get more followers? You’d be setting yourself up for an endless stream of tweets from multi-level marketers, people with lame get rich quick schemes, real estate investors and spammers. No thanks. I actually want to read my tweet stream. See the tip above. You want to follow relevant people.
Twitter is a two-way street. Twitter only works when people stop broadcasting, and start participating. It is kinda like when you are at the movies and someone in front of you makes a funny comment. You can’t help but laugh. And possibly chime in. In Twitter this is OK. You are supposed to eavesdrop and participate. The 2-way conversation becomes a many to many conversation. And participation leads to finding relevant mutual followers. This is a problem for a for a famous pop star:
He has about 6 tweets since April 15. Pretty engaging isn’t he. If you don’t participate, you can’t be relevant. And well you’ll be talking to yourself. You can do that without Twitter.
Tag. You’re found. Learn to use hashtags. #tag #stuff are examples. Conferences might have designated hashtags. Companies will have hastags. Marketing campaigns will have specific tags. Use them. When you want your tweets to be found by people are looking for info on that topic. Sometimes people even create full websites around a hashtag. You’ll also find that using hashtags is a great way to find relevant people and conversations around what you are interested in.
It’s the message, not the medium. Twitter is everywhere. Right now. But at some point twitter will go away. And we’ll all flock to another network to exchange messages. Keep talking, tweeting, sharing and conversing. It doesn’t matter if you do this on Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed. It’s all about connecting, and not the underlying technology.
I didn’t cover the day-to-day twitter tips on Twitter tools, how to use twitter and so on. There are plenty of other articles on that topic. Here are some links:
- Twitter for bloggers
- Twitter tips on Squidoo
- Twitter and customer service
- Round up of twitter guides
I hope these tips help. Post in the comments your tips and tricks. Or send me a tweet: @jameane.