So, you’re ready to Tweet, right? You’ve realized that Twitter isn’t just people sharing what they ate for breakfast and that there might be some real value to engaging with the 100 million active users that might give you valuable insights about your products, services, and competitors. Before you jump in and start tweeting away, here are seven tips that can help you avoid looking like a newbie and (hopefully) avoid some common pitfalls.
1) Don’t Be An Egg – Adjust your Twitter profile photo to something other than the egg. Most users would prefer to interact with a human being, so consider having the person managing your Twitter account upload their photo. If you absolutely don’t want a persons’ face, then at least upload a nice, high-res image of your company or brand logo.
2) Fill out your profile – Nothing irks me more than a follow from a Twitter profile with no description. Who are you? What do you like? Are you actually a human being? Why should I follow you back? Take 5 minutes and come up with a short description that tells me something about you.
3)Download Tweetdeck or sign up for a HootSuite account – Nobody really tweets from Twitter.com. It’s hard to follow all the conversations and you can’t look at multiple conversation streams at the same time. Tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck make Twitter much easier to use and manage. Personally, I like HootSuite because it’s web-based and I can access it anywhere. TweetDeck has it’s benefits too, so try one and if you don’t like it, try the other.
4) Follow some folks – It’s likely that you know people on Twitter. Your employees are probably tweeting. Your competitors are probably tweeting. Heck, your grandma might be tweeting. Click the Follow button and their status updates will start appearing in your home feed. If you’re interested in learning more about social media, feel free to follow me @socmedsean. Don’t go follow crazy, though. Twitter does look at certain following:follower ratios to identify spam accounts, so try to keep your follower to following ratio around 1:1.
5) Learn what a hashtag is and how to use it – On Twitter, hashtags are used to categorize your tweet into a specific topic. For instance, suppose I write a blog post about signs that organizations might not understand Enterprise 2.0 and I want to make sure that everyone on Twitter who is interested in intranets sees my tweet. I might write a tweet that goes something like this:
10 Signs Your Organization Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Enterprise 2.0 http://ow.ly/7GiEs
Notice that nowhere in my tweet is the word “intranet”. So, how do I make sure that my tweet gets in front of those who are interested in intranets? I add the intranet hashtag. So my tweet will end up looking like this, instead:
10 Signs Your Organization Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Enterprise 2.0 http://ow.ly/7GiEs #intranet
Be sure not to stuff your tweets too full of hashtags. There is such thing as hashtag overload and it gets a little annoying.
6) Set up some searches and conversations to follow – In TweetDeck and HootSuite, your home feed represents the tweets from people you are following. You can set up additional columns, however, that consists of mentions of specific search terms. For instance, I like to hear what people say about online community management, so I have a column that filters all the tweets for the #cmgr hashtag. This allows me to easily see what topics people are discussing that relate to that topic. Set up searches for your company name, brand names, and industry keywords. Heck, set up searches for your competitors and see what your prospective customers think about their products.
7) Learn the limits and get comfortable with them – Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean you should use them all. Try to keep your tweets below 125 characters so that others can retweet your tweets. When someone retweets you, it adds “RT” and your twitter handle to the message, which could cause their RT to go above 140 characters. They then have the choice of either editing the tweet or not retweeting it. Either way is not optimal for your message.
8 ) Use contractions and symbols, but avoid netslang – Instead of typing “would not”, type “won’t”. Instead of “did not”, use “didn’t”. Use the & symbol instead of typing “and”. These small adjustments can save you characters and help make your messages easier to retweet. Avoid using netslang, though. Things like “UR” instead of “your” or “2″ instead of “to” can make your tweets confusing. Take the time to craft and re-craft your tweets to say what you want within the limits. It’s a skill that takes a little time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be typing in 125 characters in no time.
9) Listen – Don’t just start tweeting and DON’T start tweeting links to your product pages. Twitter is not about marketing, it’s about building relationships. Again, listen. Watch the conversation streams. Learn. Then, engage in human conversations. See someone that has a question, answer it. Have an opinion on a tweet? Express it. Commented on a blog post? Share it.
Again…don’t try to sell to your tweeps.
10) Determine how you can help your followers – Why are people following your twitter account? Do they want updates on products? Are they looking for customer support? Maybe they want coupons or discounts. Ask them what they’d like to see from you and then provide it, when possible. Contribute to the community and you’ll see big returns from your followers.
I hope these tips help get you started on Twitter and help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. Happy tweeting and let me know if you have additional tips to add.
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