Making social media work (part 2): Twitter
Built around the concept of the 140 character SMS (Short Message Service) standard for cell phone messaging, Twitter has cleared a path to the future of communication online. Currently Twitter is the eighth most visited website on the internet with more than 140 million users and more than six million links from other sites to twitter. It’s users are seen as being the most connected of the connected and they frequently evangelize for companies, products and services that they have a good opinion of or that they feel a connection with. This makes this twitter-sphere a great place to start talking about your brand and expanding your audience.
Twitter is effectively a micro-blog; a place where you can remark on news stories, make observations about your industry or announce your next promotion or event. Twitter is a relationship building tool and with it you can do a variety of things:
- Promote your brand
- Interact with your audience
- Announce and promote events
- Direct people to your other web content
- Connect with journalists for PR
- Send messages to a lot of people
- Send messages to specific people
And you can do all of this from your phone in mere minutes, which makes it easy to use. Fire off communications and respond to questions about as quickly as you can send a text message.
The short message length might seem like an obstacle, but most users like it because it ensures that messages are concise. This down to brass tacks approach also means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to create content. Make a quick announcements about new products or services. Post a link to a page on your website that goes into further detail about your organizations commitment to the community.
Rub elbows in the Social sphere
Twitter allows you to send out your messages to the entire twitter community, but you can also direct messages to specific groups of users or send a direct message to any one user. For example, in less than 5 minutes you can contact local reporters to send them a link to a press release about an event on your website and send an announcement of that event to every person that follows your feed. Your followers can contact you with suggestions or questions and you can respond in almost no time.
Sign up for free
The first thing to do is to set up your twitter account. Head on over to http://twitter.com/ and enter your information into the sign up form on that page. You will need an email address to associate with your twitter account so be sure to pick an address that the person managing the twitter account has access to. Once you have entered this information step 2 will ask what your interests are and step 3 will ask for information about friends on other social networks so that twitter can suggest people for you to follow. Let’s skip this for now so that we can personalize the profile before we start following people.
Personalizing your profile with a picture of your business logo is important so that people will know who you are. If you leave the profile pic as the default your chances of people following your feed go down significantly. You can also reference your blog, your location, your interests, your website and other social media accounts you have in your profile so be sure to fill out all of the information as completely as possible.
Make sure your page sells your company.
The actual look of your twitter page is something that people will take into account. Think of this page as your organizations embassy and make sure that the colors and background work well with your current branding. If you have the skills yourself, make a background yourself, or hire a designer to make this background for you. Once you have the background click on the settings tab near the top left of your page and upload the image. At this point you can set colors to go along with the background and voila your profile and page are ready to go!
Start the conversation
Time for a few tweets to get your feet wet. It’s good to get a few tweets logged before trying to get followers; this will let them read through a few of your posts to see if they want to follow you back. Here is a list of the types of tweets that should help get you involved in conversations
- Make an observation about something
- Link to an interesting blog post or news article
- Post a link to cool videos from YouTube or Vimeo
- Share a link to an event that you will be attending
- Link to a page on your blog or website
- Post a link to someone else’s blog post (you could even us this one!)
Remember that you shouldn’t say anything that you would want kept private or that you wouldn’t share with everyone. Keep that networking mindset going and you’ll quickly get a few great tweets that people will be able to use as a gauge for whether or not they should follow you.
Now it’s time to find people to start interacting with. Following someone will allow you to see their tweets, but also acts as an invitation for them to follow you back. Use a service like http://tweet.grader.com or twitter’s own “Who To Follow” feature to find the twitter elite in your area, or people that are interested in topics relevant to your business. Click to follow about 25 users and read through some of their tweets to get a feel for how people are using the service.
There are a few concepts left to look into like how to use hashtags and tiny-urls, but at this point you should have all the information you need to get started. It will be important to stay actively involved with your twitter account as people won’t want to keep following you if you don’t add to conversations on a regular basis. You will also want make sure that you include your twitter handle on business cards, your website and other promotional materials. You should also make it easy for people to share the content from your site with on page social sharing tools.
If any of this seems like to much to handle and you would like a hand with either the setup of the account or another aspect of using twitter please use our contact form to find out how we can help your organization.