In this last of three blogs about starting and growing a Twitter account, the tips center on techniques and helpful tools.
1. Twitter gurus cite 20 tweets per day as a target to challenge Oprah, Ashton Kutcher or other top tweeters, yet 5 to 10 per day can create a rewarding group of followers.
We are attracted to places with activity, where there is the appearance of something happening. I’m reminded of a trip made years ago by car to the Florida panhandle. I was with my family, driving in the rain late at night on a two-lane stretch of rough highway about five miles south of Montgomery, Alabama. Never mind the sixteen convenience stores we just passed in town, voices from the backseat began pleading of a need to “go now.” This was in the days before GPS, when finding a place to “go now” or get fuel or buy more junk food meant finding a store bearing a familiar logo with stadium-style lighting and a parking lot filled with vehicles. The maxim was, “If the place is well lit and looks busy, it’s probably OK.” Make your account a brightly lit hub of Twitter activity.
2. Keep tweets positive, use “we”, “us”, “you” and “your” when tweeting, and suggest an action for followers to take when doing so makes sense.
Not that businesses or organizations send angry tweets, but we can find controversy and discord in the news media. Supporting causes, endorsing change and promoting a point-of-view are worth uses of Twitter, to be sure. Just remember that following is a voluntary act, subject to reversal. Doesn’t it make sense to give them reasons to stay, rather than to leave? Referring again to the Twitter gurus, there are those who suggest that using social words (meaning most of the singular and plural pronouns) presents a friendlier tone. Whether that claim represents an inviolate truth or not, it isn’t a bad idea. Nor is it a bad idea suggesting where followers can navigate to for deeper content, other perspectives, or related subjects. This makes it easier for followers in understanding why you have selected particular content for their consideration.
3. Take new ideas and concepts about solutions for common problems to your followers.
The direction social media appears to be heading is “a better experience of the real world,” as stated by Sam Altman, founder of Loopt. Something that I struggle with is the occasional tweet that has little connection to my usual content. I recently found a video about a 15 year-old girl who taught one of her family’s cows to jump short fences as would horses in steeplechase. It seems that the girl’s parents decided against buying her a horse, so she saddled up Luna and introduced this bovine to the equestrian-dominated sport of fence jumping. Not directly related to contract industry content, but a story of managing existing resources, of adaptability, of overcoming challenges and of blazing a trail where none existed. Easy? Probably not, but certainly a creative solution. (Just in case you are interested in the clip, here’s the link for Luna, the fence jumping cow: http://bit.ly/eTEnxb )
4. Engagement is the goal and returns value for the time invested, more so than going for droves of followers.
Giving and getting are primary functions of a social media connection. Giving followers an inspiration, an insight or a smile can raise your influence, just as receiving feedback, a recommendation or increased loyalty from a follower is a get for businesses and organizations (What Brand Marketers Expect from Social Media Followers, eMarketer, 05 April 11). By starting, by trying and by tracking you will find out what interests your followers, keeps them engaged and attracts more followers.
5. At 140 characters each, tweets force a lean message style that can add deeper content through links.
Photos, movies and URLs are among the content followers can link to through your tweets. Here is a chance to promote a customer’s achievements, an industry advancement, news from non-profit organizations or anything else that you judge as relevant content to pass along. That does not mean you can’t pass along your own news—as mentioned in the second Twitter blog, the suggestion is four tweets to one tweet about your own news.
6. Visit Twitter Media for information about the newest implementations.
For example, James Franco offered a link via Twitter to a live feed from his iPhone as he walked on stage during the opening of the 2010 Oscar Awards. Another example: research that shows how many times followers need to see a hashtag link (ex: #design or #neoconeast) before they will follow it and contribute to it (the answer is four). Last example: a TV show with a Twitter account is nothing new, except when the hosts are tweeting in real time while the taped show airs, giving followers a new interactive experience. Have a look at Twitter Media for some inspirations you can adapt to your business and your followers.
7. Here are some tools you can use to see how things are going and refine your efforts accordingly.
Bit ly – shorten links, track the clicks and create a QR code for smartphone scans in one easy action. You can tweet from the site, too. Best of all, Bit ly is free.
TweetDeck – configures feeds from Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites into a single dashboard. One log-in lets you follow all your feeds in real time (no need to log-in to each site) and allows tweets to be scheduled for distribution throughout the day. Getting started is easy and the application is free.
TwitterTales – the number of resources on the Twitter site is growing, and Twitter Tales is among the more interesting. Visit here for stories and tips from owners of established accounts. Plenty of good insights.
Twitpic – post photos or videos here from your phone, the Twitpic site or by email, and link them to Twitter posts.
Geo-relevant ads – Twitter has just announced this feature, and it will allow advertisers to specify locations where Promoted Tweets appear. (Promoted Tweets are those that advertisers pay to be highlighted to a wider audience. Also, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts offer advertisers other highlighting possibilities.)
Follower dashboard – this dashboard will provide advertisers with deeper information about each tweet, including new analytic data about followers: “where they are, how they grew over time, their level of engagement and a glimpse of their other interests”, according to the story in AdAge.
Branded pages (under consideration, not available today) – in search of what’s been called “long-term” revenue, Twitter is considering branded-pages similar to those on Facebook. The pages would create spaces for businesses, organizations or individuals to “deliver content and encourage followers”, according to the story in Marketing.