Something revolutionary has happened online and if you are not making use of it, you are missing out. This ‘thing’ is called twitter.
It is a free service available at Twitter, and is essentially a combination of a micro blogging tool and a social networking site. Twitter is a great way to generate more traffic for your blog and through which to build a real relationship with your readers. Twitter is also a way of connecting with other people who share your interests or who might be interested in what you have to say.
So do not view it simply as a source of traffic for your products, services, blogs and/or Websites.
Let’s begin with the basic terms:
Tweet: Describes a Twitter update. It is basically whatever you type into the Web box, using 140 characters or less.
Follow/Following: A follower is someone who subscribes to receives your updates. On the Twitter Web site “following” someone means you will see their messages in your own personal timeline. Twitter lets you see all the people you follow and also who is following you
Re-tweet (RT): Is taking a twitter message someone else has posted, and rebroadcasting that same message to your followers
Direct message (DM): This is the function of the Twitter service that enables you to send a private message (direct message) to a person you are following
Time line (TL): A real-time list of Tweets from those you follow. It appears on your Twitter home page
Handle: A user’s “Twitter handle” is the username they have selected
Hash tag: The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It is a way of organizing your updates for Twitter search engines.
Avatar: The personal image uploaded to your Twitter profile in the Settings tab of your account
Following: The art selecting who to follow
So you have created a twitter account, what comes next? Finding people to follow.
Don’t be fooled into overlooking effective management of both the people you follow, and those who are following you. Mastering the art of following should come before you go rushing off to add all sorts of fascinating Twitter apps and getting people to follow you.
You can waste a lot of time at first by subscribing to a lot of useless `follows’, if you’re new to Twitter. In fact, following the wrong people can deter others from following you! So if your primary purpose is business, plan your Twitter following intelligently.
An author, Lois E. Scott says “if you want to soar with eagles, don’t hang out with turkeys!” In this context it means that you shouldn’t blindly follow the top gurus. First you need to be:
Focus on your field and choose from areas that target your exact niche market and business needs, and select people to follow from those sources
If you have favourite experts in your field, check out who they follow on their profile pages. Most likely, a few of the people they follow will really appeal to you – and if you follow related top people, you’re more likely to be exposed to:
- Insider information about your market, upcoming trends or products and tools
- The right way to tweet – there is a right way for professionals.
- Sound advice and tips you can apply to your business practices
You need to be choosy about the number of people you follow. You never want to be seen as following 2153 people yet you only have 3 followers. It brands you as a spammer or someone not to follow.
If you find anyone’s posts to be lacking in value, be ruthless. Unfollow them. Think of your Twitter experience rather like hunting for nuggets of gold. If you pick one up, and discover it’s actually just a piece of worthless rock you toss it, right?
Remember, the whole purpose of Twitter initially was communication. If the people you follow never bother to answer a single question, or comment on any of your Tweets, you might want to reconsider what you get out of following them as well.
Another easy way to figure out who to follow: Use Mr Tweet. This tool performs 3 functions:
- Suggests people who are followed by your friends
- Suggests people from your followers list who you might want to follow back
- Provides stats to help you decide (their number of followers, chances of your receiving reply, update frequency)
Using Twitter as a marketing tool is rather like having the inside scoop on a murder mystery. It allows you to examine the evidence before the police arrive on the scene. In fact, sometimes before anyone even knows there’s been (or is going to be) a crime. You can scan the Tweets of people you are following for things like:
- News about new projects
- Insider insights
- Warning signs of major changes – before they happen
The Art Of Being Followed
Who do you want following you? Not just your target market, but experts who can help you in your business growth.
Your followers should have the following characteristics:
- They should fit naturally with your personality and goals (you really enjoy their posts!)
- They provide strong insights into your market
- They give you valuable feedback and information you can implement and use in your marketing
So how do you go about attracting quality followers? Here are some pointers:
- Display your Twitter link prominently on your website. Reinforce the hint with an invitation to follow you, like so: “Follow me on Twitter”.
- Insert your Twitter link into signatures you use in Forums (check the rules first – and use the format “@[Twittername]”.
- Use a widget like Ricardo González’ Twitter for WordPress to display your most recent Tweets on your WordPress blog. Twitter itself does have similar widgets and you can access them in your Twitter page’s “Goodies” section. It all depends what you are looking for, visually.
- Add your twitter I.D to your business card
There are instances when you may want to stop following someone.
Top 4 Reasons for unfollowing may be:
- Too many posts –You quickly get sick of seeing 70 of their icons filling up your Twitter page, bumping out interesting messages from other people you follow.
- Marketing spam messages
- Inappropriate references or profanity
- Zero interaction
There are 3 ways to manage how you disengage on Twitter. The first 2 work by cutting the offending Twitterers (or Tweeters) off altogether, when you use either the “Block” function or “Unfollow”.
But what if you don’t want to stop following them – you just wish they’d send less messages?
In that case, you can actually change your reply settings (or change your device settings, if you don’t want to receive text messages from everyone).
How to deal with Twitter tyrants
Occasionally, people have been known to start personal bullying campaigns. By all means block them – but there’s one extra step you really need to take.
- Send a DM (Direct Message) to @spam, reporting them
Like in every interaction with people, etiquette is required even on Twitter. It has been called Twitiquette.
Twitiquette involves all the regular conventions of business etiquette – and a couple more specific to Tweeting. Twitter etiquette like business etiquette is important, because it defines you as a professional person with business savvy and smarts.
You need to be careful what you say on Twitter – By all means, disagree with someone, but no name calling, of course, and avoid sarcastic comments. Sarcasm in hyperspace is closely linked to “road rage” in drivers. It’s easy to yell at someone when they’re not standing 2 feet from your nose, looking you in the eye.
Two basic schoolyard rules remain good solid ones to follow:
- If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it
- Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your Grandma’s face
On the other hand, if you’re the sort of person who prides themselves in being a “no B.S.”, hard-hitting, cutting edge type, well.. before firing all canons, just remember, you might hard-hit yourself all the way to the wrong end of a nasty lawsuit. (It really does happen!)
The two major cause of Twitter lawsuits are:
- Personal defamation
- Copyright violations.
When it comes to the latter, Twitter itself doesn’t want to be on the wrong end of one, so they take it seriously enough to provide a special email address, in case an outraged copyright owner wants to contact them to report a violate: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Flout this copyright issue, and you’ll be permanently banned from Twitter before you know it (with or without a lawsuit).
The rules of thumb
We’ve talked about what not to do. Is there anything you should do, to boost your Twitter Effectiveness Quotient? The answer is yes!
Always acknowledge or thank anyone who:
- Answers you directly
- Retweets one of your tweets
- Tweets about you
You can either send them a Direct Message, or post a simple Tweet along the lines of:
“Thanks to @[Person’s Handle] for answering my question RE [Tweet URL]”
(Use your best judgment to decide which method is most appropriate, per situation.)
Always give credit, when credit is due.
If someone has provided you with a valuable piece of information, and you’re rushing to tweet about it – do remember to credit them! Ask first, if you think it might be sensitive or personal information.
How to Retweet
What is “Retweeting”? This refers to tweeting again what other people tweeted first.
What should you Retweet? Only information you find really important or relevant, that you think others need to hear. (Insert a very short note about why you think it’s valuable.) The format for Retweeting is:
“RT @[Original tweeter] What it is [Original tweet]”
The words “What it is” should be replaced with mega-basic info that does its best to show why someone should check it out.
Never, EVER Retweet something solely in the hope of gaining brownie points with the person whose Tweet you are Retweeting. This action will backfire on you, if the Retweet is not of real value to your followers. You may even embarrass instead of flatter the expert in question. (No one likes to see their labor of love used tritely or weakly.)
That being said, relevant Retweeting, done properly, can help you:
- Build trust with your own followers (by giving them truly valuable tips)
- Build your relationship with the person whose post you Retweeted – because you brought value (and maybe even traffic) to them also.
Getting Your Posts Retweeted
No matter how genuinely pleased that person is, however, it’s no guaranteed they’ll Retweet your posts in reciprocity. There’s only one tried-and-true to get your posts Retweeted:
- Make sure your posts are rich in value and relevancy
- Make sure they’re timely (and on top of trends, too)
Finally, do remember to include a “Retweet” button on your blog posts! (You can get one from Tweetmeme.com.)
Tweeting is like anything else in the wonderful world of Internet Marketing. Your primary goal is to give your followers:
- What they need
- What they will perceive as high value
- What they are missing
One way to instantly Tweet in a high-value way is to share powerful articles you yourself have found really helpful. The most effective (and fast) way to do this – visit www.twitthat.com first!
You’ll find a button you can drag to your browser, so that the next time you’re on an article, you can click that button. A window pops up and lets you modify your Tweet. When you are satisfied with it, click “Twit
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s add some flavour to our main course. We’ll finish off with 10 basic Twitter wide-ranging apps
Twitter apps to boost effectiveness
- TwAnswers: Ask a question and have it answered straight away through Twitter, rather than going some place like Ask.com
- Twazzup: Shows you quickly what’s popular on Twitter at that moment
- Twendz: Immediate Twitter search engine, with word clouds and keywords
- TweetBeep: Alerts you to updates on keywords and phrases
- TweetDeck: Highly popular app that allows you to visually organize Twitter users into different categories.
- Tweet Volume: Allows you to find out how often keywords on Twitter are used
- Twilert: Sends you an email, every time someone sends aTweet using your keywords
- Twits Like Me: Helps you find related users
- Twitority: Powerful tool for finding Twitter users that have“authority”
- TwitPic: A really quick and easy way to share photos on Twitter. When your follower comments on a photo, it appears as a Tweet.
You could also use Twittorati, which showcases tweets from the “highest authority bloggers, including the “Technorati Top 100”.
Now you are conversant with the basics of tweeting, begin to make this tool work for you.