Give Tweets a chance.

Social media is having a profound affect on the ways people interact with each other and the business/services they consume.  Twitter was the poster child of 2008, and here’s are few good ways to help get you up and running with Twitter.
  1. Give Tweeting a Chance: If your organization has the resources available and the audience need, chances are, Twitter might be a great choice for some of your communications needs. From using Twitter in the developing world to coordinate disaster relief to helping colleagues share knowledge across the world, Twitter is such an open and flexible platform, the possibilities are endless.
  2. Use Twitter to Promote Your Cause: From advertising links to press releases, to asking for followers to support your cause, Twitter is a GREAT tool to market your organization. You can post these shout-outs to your organization manually to make a connection with your audience, or you can even use an RSS/Twitter tool to automatically send blog updates to your organization’s Twitter account.
  3. Tweeters have personalities!: Creating an “organizational” face for your Tweeting persona may be ultimately less successful than if your organization chooses a few individuals to speak on their behalf. For the most part, people agree that they like to know there’s a real person out there communicating with them, not a group of folks following predetermined guidelines acting as the voice of an organization. This strategy might not work in all cases, but a review of your audience and possibly some focus groups might be very telling about the direction your organization should choose.
  4. Mix It Up: Everyone has different opinions about what mix of professional and personal tweeting makes the best use of the tool, however, at the end of the day, most people agree that the lines are blurring quickly, and the lines between our professional and personal relationships are becoming seamless. Its up to the individual to determine what their best use of the tool is, but it seems as though a little bit of both go a long way in building your Twitter karma and solidifying the “weak ties” you make in the Twitterverse.
  5. Twitter has the users: Should you leave Twitter for FriendFeed or Plurk, given Twitter’s recent downtime due to the large number of updates? Maybe, but Twitter still has the critical mass of users, and that counts for something. There are lots of financial and reputation-based incentives that Twitter has to get things back on track, so it could be worthwhile to be patient for now. In the meantime, TweetLater and Twiddict will help you post your tweets as soon as the service gets back on track.

First Steps

  1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture. (People want to see you.)
  3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  5. Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)
  7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)
  9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELLLionelAtDELL, etc.
  10. Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much. (Man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. I do it all the time. – Side note: I’ve gotta stop tooting my own horn).
  10. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

Some Sanity For You

  1. You don’t have to read every tweet.
  2. You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  3. Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from @pistachio).
  4. Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.
  5. 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  6. If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.
  7. If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.
  8. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  9. If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.
  10. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.
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