In my first article, I shared the three easy steps to get started with Twitter. Have you followed the steps and signed up? How’s it going? It has been said that your Twitter account is only as good as your Twitter news feed. Are you following at least 100 people, companies, business publications? These are the sources of information you will receive via Twitter. How useful that information is depends upon whom you select to follow. If you are still a little overwhelmed, here are a few tips to help you get more out of Twitter.
Download Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a free app with a paid upgrade., can be found at www.hootsuite.com, and I am a huge fan! Hootsuite is more than just a Twitter app. It is a social media dashboard. Not only can you post to Twitter, you can also link an additional Twitter account, your Facebook Page, and LinkedIn account and post to those from the same screen. There are other sites that probably do the same thing, but this is my fave. It can be used on your smart phone, your tablet, or your PC. I use the free version and have for about 3.5 years – I hope it stays that way.
Hootsuite offers enough benefits that it alone could be a 500-word post. It has a built-in link shortener, it allows you to schedule Tweets, you can set up columns to view direct messages to you or mentions of your Twitter name. You can store/save a bunch of Tweets. You can add photos or videos. The list of benefits goes on and on!
Think Keywords! I preach “Think key words.” Five years ago I didn’t know what key words were. This January I read several blog posts, possibly started by Chris Brogan, that suggested your goals and resolutions should be distilled down to 3 key words that you wanted to focus on. Here’s a post from Mark W. Schaeffer that provides an example of the 3 words resolutions. WOW! How powerful is that? And, how easy to remember? Google has a whole keyword tool. But, what does that have to do with Twitter, you ask?
Well, if you narrow your target content to three key words, you can set up search columns on those words. You can quickly learn if they are the right words for you or not. By listening, or following, your key words for a time, the search results will be relevant or they will not. If they are not relevant, then you can modify your search. If they are relevant, you can see who else is using those words, and who “bubbles to the top” as a thought leader in those words. You can determine if you have actual competitors in those words or if there are opportunities for partnerships with similar or complimentary businesses.
In one of the great PR books, “22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” by Al Ries and Laura Ries, law #5 is the “Law of the Word.” The authors suggest that you “own a word.” Create a business or personal brand based on your keywords by incorporating them in all of your social media profiles. Be known for those words.
Hashtags. A hashtag is the # symbol preceding your keywords. Hashtags tie together keywords, Twitter searches, and Twitter chats. Mashable, a social media news and information source, offers this article on how to get the most out of hashtags. Use hashtags consciously and sparingly to reach larger audiences.
Find a Chat. What is the best way to find people to follow or followers? Find a Twitter Chat on one or all of your keywords. There lives a Google document that lists over 500 exciting Twitter chats, their subject, their moderator(s), and their regularly schedule times. These are lively, fast-paced, opinionated online-chats that typically last 30 minutes to one hour and focus on pre-published questions or statements on a variety of subjects. They often feature a special guest, an author, expert, product manufacturer on the subject or topic of choice. Professional organizations have recently adopted the idea of holding their own Twitter chats to engage members and get real time feedback on particular subjects/issues.
Say there isn’t a Twitter chat for your subject? Then start one, own your own Twitter chat! You must have patience, promote your chat, send personal invitations, and accept that starting/running your own chat may feel like a full-time job in and of itself.
Links. So you are on Twitter, reading all about the latest Marcellus Shale tweets in Pittsburgh and other parts of the country or the world. Your business offers services to the shale industry that benefit civil engineering firms in the form of HR, support, or safety training. Start tweeting! But, how can you say it all in 140-characters? LINKS. Do you have a website that tells about your services? Link to it. Do you have previously written white papers available on your website? Share a link via Twitter. Do you answer your clients’ or customers’ most frequently asked questions on your website? Link to that particular page on your site. All of these are valuable pieces of content to share via Twitter. Use the built in link shortener in Hootsuite to shorten the URL to your website with an enticing phrase. Chances are you will see increased traffic to the site URLs that you link to.
As a marketing communication professional, I believe Twitter affords the opportunity to connect and share with individuals with similar interests, with potential clients and customers, and with resources that will help you grow your business. Remember that Twitter is a social media tool. Above all, be social.