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I’m constantly excited by great companies and people and when I see they’re not on Twitter I see an amazing opportunity missed. If you’re one such company or person, here are tips for you – in four sections…

  1. first – why you use Twitter 
  2. second: the basics to keep in mind 
  3. third: tips on using Twitter
  4. fourth: advanced Twitter tips

Enjoy – leave me a comment – let me know what was great to read / ideas that come up…

1. Why you use Twitter

Twitter is a great tool to spread your message through the online/digital network utilising your advocates (i.e. those people who like your company, its vibe, what you stand for, your products and services). It’s great to find and utilise those advocates and also to see what people enjoy about the information you have on Twitter.

Twitter is excellent at inspiring advocates to create information that adds to your message and to send you relevant information you can forward to others. This means less work for you in spreading your great message. An example of this is moo.com: people could share on Twitter (or other social media such as Facebook, Flickr) photos of their latest business cards and spread the moo.com message to others. moo.com can organise it a bit – perhaps invite people to share their business card photos, or run a competition, and advertise the initiative on their website.

Essentially it is low effort for the amount of new customers/advocates gained.

Does that make sense?!

A quick aside for personal twitter accounts. Personally, Twitter is great to gain up to date information on any topic, read what like-minded people have to offer on topics of your choice.

2. The Basics to keep in mind as you use Twitter (and other Social Media)

Firstly, remember that “original content” ROCKS!! Original content includes:

  • short comments you could share on Twitter (140 characters) with links to websites you’d like to share, 
  • videos you’ve created that you have on your website or YouTube
  • new information on your website, 
  • new blog posts, 
  • photos on websites such as Flickr.com 

… You get the idea – it is new information you’ve created.
(If you don’t get the idea, please leave me a comment as sometimes I don’t realise when I’m using terminology – having been in the online area for over 10 years!!)

Original content attracts ‘like-minded people’ – i.e. your customers, your advocates, those people who will both like your message and also want to pass it on. Remember in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” book, “connectors” “mavens” and “salesmen” help to send your message through a network. Identifying your connectors is a lot less time consuming through Twitter and can be low effort for great reward.

3. Tips on Using Twitter

Basic tips to get you started:

1. Getting onto Twitter is easy – register at www.twitter.com, upload your photo, your ‘bio’ (a few words on who you are / your company is), finish the registration and starting saying stuff (“tweeting”).
Note: I always recommend registering a Twitter account under your personal name and also another Twitter account for your company name. Have as-short-a-name if possible so that when someone is tweeting you, referencing your name is a small number of letters and they have more room to say more words to you (note: a “tweet” is 140 characters – which is not many words!).
Note: The photo for your personal Twitter account is of you and the company twitter account is your logo or something that really represents your company / its essence.

2. Learn 4 important language tips: RT, @, D, #: more on these here: Twitter Language Tips and Twitter ‘cheat sheet’ The language used is a “tweet” is what people say on twitter (140 characters), “tweeting” is what people do on Twitter (not “twittering” as I’ve heard people say – makes me laugh) and people “follow” you as they’re interested in what you have to say/tweet and you “follow” people you’re interested in / find what they tweet of interest.

3. You can use twitter.com and also its about making the information easy to read – so I use an application called Tweetdeck which you can download for free at www.tweetdeck.com

4. For your company Twitter account, starting on Twitter is about connecting with people who’d be interested in your company, its products and services and also attracting more of these sorts of people to you through referrals. You can do this through:

a) Saying stuff you think/know your customers and clients are interested in – they will find you through searching for this information when you tweet it or sometime in the future – saying more (relevant information) equals being easier to be found. Now Google search includes tweets so your tweet will come up to a wider audience.
b) Uploading your customer database (via twitter.com – this is relevant for hotmail/yahoo/other accounts) to see who is already on twitter and ‘following’ them
c) Advertising on your website “Follow me/us on Twitter” and a linking to your Twitter account
d) Setting up searches in Tweetdeck or through search.twitter.com specific to what you’re interested in and following the people who are saying relevant comments.  You can also retweet (“RT”) comments/tweets that you find interesting and/or also those that are relevant to your company and/or that you think your customers/advocates would be interested in.
e) Look at what other companies are saying/tweeting (and ‘follow’ companies and individuals of interest) and start to work out how you wish to tweet – what language you wish to use that is in line with how you represent your company now and in the futur. Great people and companies to observe that I’d highly recommend are here: http://twitter.com/samanthabell1/gurus and to see the difference between a personal and business account, enjoy reading Rosalinda Batson’s tweets and her company’s NNC consulting.

And here’s an article about managing twitter and social media to avoid information or time management overload – as the information can be entrancing! http://www.bitrebels.com/geek/how-to-be-active-on-twitter-without-getting-burned-out/

Advanced Twitter Tips

These tips are the ‘added extras’ – feel free to leave these out or add them in. It’s advisable to start with the tips above first, let them settle in for a few days/weeks as you learn the Twitter language and then move onto these:

f) Link your twitter account to a bit.ly account so you can see how many people click on the weblinks you put on Twitter and where they are located and how many people forwarded/retweeted. This gives you an idea of what content is useful and can guide what to focus your tweeting on. You can do this by:
1. Sign up for an account at http://bit.ly.com
2. In settings on tweetdeck ensure you add your bit.ly account details

g) When sending out original content, you can ask your ‘followers’ to retweet by saying something like “Pls RT” (Please Retweet) and see how many people forward. It’s a great achievement to get many retweets – it’s a combination of your followers, your great message/company/people and the content you’re offering. The more RT’s, the more people see your message. 

h) Use hastags “#” on your tweets – these collect any tweets together, on Tweetdeck you can see all tweets with a certain hastag in one column. 

i) View what twitter lists you are on (this takes time – it may happen within a few weeks or months) to see how your customers are relating to you.

j) Set up twitter lists via twitter.com for people to follow – make it easy for your customers/followers

k – this one’s relevant for event organisers and companies with products/services/initiatives/programs that people will talk about) – Create a hastag and advertise them on your website and collaterol. For example, an upcoming conference in Melbourne is for the waste/garbage/trash industry and is called “Waste2010” – the hashtag could be #waste10

l) Tweet about how your products and services can be used well by your customers. When would they need your products/services? What date / instance is relevant to them and how could you meet their needs / save customers’ time? This picture is from a recent clever tweet by a printing company “Savings” who have used the #sxsw tag well – SXSW is an upcoming conference and Savings is advertising the need for using business cards at this conference. Great idea (and a great idea for moo.com too!!) 🙂

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m) And the last, quite advanced tip: You can quite easily put a ‘widget’ on your website that shows what people are saying on Twitter about your company / products / services – using either the hastag or your company twitter name – contact me or your website person for more info… It’s free content that is available for you to publicise and to engage people with your company!

More information is on Slideshare – presentations that Joanne Spain and I have done for various companies such as Bunnings that show what’s possible for organisations who use social media.

The two companies that inspired this blog post are: Blue Ice Aviation in Alaska (they have an amazing snow skiing video that is such great footage to share with and attract many customers) and moo.com (an online company I continue to buy fabulous business cards and postcards from – their service is exceptional). Thanks also to @cantpatruby for sending me the link to blue ice aviation!!

Happy days to you
Sam

Contact me for more information on any of the above – we’re all at different levels of understanding and it’d be great to have you enjoy using these tools! My email is hello@samanthabell.com.au
Come back soon and see more of what I do and think. Join the conversation – add a comment!

Update 19th February: moo.com are actually on Twitter! They are doing well via: @OverheardatMoo
and they aren’t advertising it on their website (from what I could see).