Monday, July 22, 2013

Social Media: The Basics Part 5 (Twitter)

Twitter is one of the 10 most popular sites on the Internet, and it is one of my favorite social media sites. You can think of Twitter as a microblogging site because you are limited to sending and receiving extremely short (no more than 140 characters long) text messages (called "tweets") to a pre-defined network of "followers." Twitter is not designed to facilitate an ongoing back-and-forth conversation. Being followed on Twitter is an incredibly strong signal of online affinity for you and your business. Your followers are indicating an active interest in your brand and are asking to hear more from you. On Twitter, it is easy to quickly compose Tweets and messages aimed at those interested in you or your company. Twitter is a useful tool for gathering high-level, up-to-the-minute updates on key news developments from experts who use the medium to share observations and perspectives. It is the fastest and most immediate social platform. 

Becoming someone's follower on Twitter accomplishes several goals:
  • You identify Twitter accounts that are relevant and interesting to you, your organization and your industry.
  • Receive the latest insights and updates. 
  • Increase your visibility on search engines. You let people know that you're on Twitter, and encourage them to follow you back.
  • Provide positive PR for you and your business. You associate yourself with a specific group of industry experts and thought leaders, and demonstrate your interest in the space.
  • Deepen relationships. Twitter is a great platform for engagement, so once you follow someone on Twitter you can work on starting a conversation.
Here are some tips for following:
  • Find people to follow by importing your contact databases using tools that Twitter provides. Then, broaden this action by following those that your followers are following.
  • Do a search for experts in the field who are tweeting. You can find people to follow on sites like or Twitter offers an integrated search function on each user's homepage that allows you to search all Tweets based on keywords, usernames or subject. Searches can also be performed at 
  • The "Who to Follow" feature offered by Twitter can be a useful way to identify Twitter accounts that you wish to follow. 
  • Try to make sure to follow back relevant people and companies that are following you.
  • Twitter provides easy search functionality so that you can find people that are talking about your company and your industry. 
  • Read the tweets of those you follow and search for tweets on keywords relevant to your product or service. Twitter client applications such as TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and Seesmic are useful for organizing your Twitter feeds, managing multiple microblogging accounts, and post or scheduling posting from multiple users.
  • Create lists. By creating a list you can easily segment people who you are following. Users may look to organize those users they follow into lists based on background or interest, so that when they click to view a list, they will only see a stream of "tweets" from the users included in that list. For example, on my Twitter page, I have the following lists: social media, blogging, freelancing, finance, careers, behavioral economics, psychology, copywriting, neuroscience, and marketing. Anyone can subscribe to my Twitter lists and follow the same people I do. 
A Twitter chat is a public conversation on Twitter based around a unique hashtag. The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in tweets. It was created by Twitter as a way to categorize messages. The hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and easily participate in it. Most Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics but some are also based around special events. Hosting a Twitter chat is an amazing way to engage with your fans and followers. In addition, this is a great way to better understand and grow your community and to promote your brand and business. Twitter users also have the ability to call out other users in their own tweets by using the @ symbol. When a username is proceeded by the @ symbol, it becomes a link to that Twitter profile. Including the @ symbol directly followed by a username is also called a "mention." 

Twitter is a fantastic platform to learn who your influencers are. Because Twitter is designed for quick exchanges of information and shares, you can start to keep track of who is re-tweeting your content and engaging in conversations. Remember to reach out to your top sharers to create relationships. They may be interested in doing a guest blog or allowing you to do a guest blog on their site. The more you engage directly with your top influencers, the more they will continue to promote your content. 

Do not use Twitter to only promote your company. If you never contribute to the conversations taking place, if you never offer something personal, fun or funny, you are missing the prime opportunity unique to Twitter. Twitter is about building relationships; it is about reciprocity. Engage and be engaged. Be a part of the flow of information. It's in your best interests to pay attention to what your customers and prospective customers are tweeting about and to respond accordingly.

Remember, your content should create value and ultimately, be helpful to your network. Retweeting material that will be helpful to your network is good, but writing your own informational material is even better. If your network benefits from something you tweet about, they will remember you and your business. According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta41 and the Content Marketing Institute, follow the 4-1-1 rule: For every one self-serving tweet, you should re-tweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others. What's great about this approach is that it lets you engage in the conversation, build awareness, and keep in touch with your followers without coming across as pushy or too "me" focused. 

Next week, I'll cover Pinterest and Instagram. Stay tuned!

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