and people they like”
and people they like”
Now this is the article where I show my true colours as a Social Media Heretic.
I’ve written a number of articles about following on Twitter and you have asked me how to, why to and mostly what to do. First off, please understand these are entirely my own opinions. I don’t run a complicated stats package and I don’t use studies or fancy algorithms to back up my insight. My Twitter advice comes from 20+ years working with people and establishing productive working relationships with them in the flesh and online. I do know what I’m doing. I was manhandling online information before Twitter and before Mark Zuckerberg had any friends.
What you get from me is straight talking.
If you have read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that my advice is primarily aimed at small and medium business enterprises. I want to help you develop and maintain an engaging, open and positive relationship with your clients. All my advice is based on my mantra (yep here we go again):
However, I’m not exclusive and any and all my advice can be taken on board by anyone. It’s good stuff!
I probably spend more time on Twitter than most because I want to get under its’ skin and find out how it works for those of you in the real world. It’s my job to sort it out Social Media for those of you who want to part-take but haven’t got the time or necessarily the inclination. I would like you to be able to maximize your opportunities and enable you to use your time online productively.
So back to being a Social Media Heretic.
For SMEs (and most of us) I sincerely believe that it’s not about big numbers but quality numbers. This is why I don’t adhere to the more is more plan of action. I don’t slavishly follow everyone who follows me. Honestly I don’t understand why some people do follow me. They obviously haven’t read any of my tweets, visited this blog or gone to my website. They usually leave before the week is out. Yes, confession time here. People leave me in droves! OK a minor trickle, but it happens.
I don’t care. (OK it’s very nice to have loads and loads of followers. I do enjoy having a fan club that may or may not listen to what I have to say. I’m human, I want to be liked!)
What I do care about more is the people I follow. And yes many followed me first and I liked what I saw and followed back. The others I discovered myself. I’m choosy not a ego manic.
“Oh, but you’re so mean because that’s not very nice”, I hear you cry. Not so. I’m sure the other 189, 999,301 plus accounts on Twitter will find their own fans (in some cases I wish they would just go away but…).
Come on! Who has the time?
Really is it important to be followed by everyone including the cat’s brother? Wouldn’t it be better to develop a solid core of interesting and engaged followers who actually know who you are? People and businesses you can talk to/sell to/rely on/are interested in? My answer is yes. Your most effective use of Twitter is as an integrated part of your marketing scheme. So use it to it’s best advantage to find your particular niche audience.
I say this because I feel that you must always keep in mind the “Social” aspect of Social Media and this require dialogue, interaction, exchange. You know – being social. And yes, to use Twitter really effectively you have to do this.
The formal lingo for developing a compatible/useful/involved following is called “Organic”. Because it’s a selective process, takes a lot of time and yes you have to wade through some decomposing natural products to get there (nice euphemism eh?).
In the long run (and do keep in mind that all Social Media is for the long run, it’s not an over night quick fix), developing your home grown organic followership will be much more rewarding than 1,500,000 followers who only need you to make their numbers look good.
It’s not just a popularity contest. Twitter is a business platform. Seriously.
Hope this helps clear up a few things. Any ideas, objections, insights……you know where I am.
For business people Twitter represents a unique opportunity to communicate with others in a quick and engaging way. The core challenge to every Tweeter is to find a distinctive and engaging voice that will enable them to connect to their audience.
The key to effective tweeting is to give people something they will value using a variety of tweets. By being interesting/useful/insightful/attribute of choice, followers will be attracted. They’ll want to find out more about you, get to know what else you have to offer, or even chat just to you. All this activity will ultimately increase traffic to your website and increased awareness = more business. All in all, good tweeting is good for business.
So now you’re using Twitter but what to say? Are you new to Twitter or just suddenly become tongue tied?
Here are a few tips and suggestions on what to tweet to get you started or get you going:
1. Give your audience cool stuff. I’m sure you have come across a few wonders on your travels across the Internet. If you get a bit stuck now and then, a short trip to Stumbleupon is always refreshing. I’m never going to admit how many days I’ve lost wandering in that universe!
2. People on Twitter love to chat. If you can’t think of anything to say ask questions – see what they want to talk about
3. Retweet the stuff you receive that’s worth passing on. This is also seen as a compliment to the original tweeter and you’ll be known as a collaborator and as someone who shares the good bits. Retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.
4. Sometimes they’re worth a 1000 words, so show a photo or two. Your shop, your product, your great new haircut!
5. Be sure not to talk relentlessly about work and your stuff. Don’t be an ego maniac. Be human rather than a work drone and slightly go off piste. Be informal. On Twitter you can talk about what interests you, engage in comment on politics (be mild though remember this is a very public forum), discuss movies, sports …..whatever!
6. Do talk about yourself. What you are doing/going to do/have done. When you do talk about your stuff, make it useful/interesting/fun. If you work in a team or have employees include them (of course with their knowledge and consent). Let everyone know who is doing the 10 k run, who’s working on a new product, who is making the tea and coffee run this week.
7. Send useful links and point out things of interest in your field. Establish a reputation as an expert.
8. Send messages. Chat to other people. Stop with the monologue because people are on Twitter to talk and find out what’s going on. So tell them!
9. I’m sure you’re having a great time on Twitter but don’t forget about work completely. Broadcast your news! Definitely use Twitter to promote your website and your blog. When promoting a blog post or directing people to a website etc. give a hint what it’s about. It’s very helpful to give your followers an indication as to why you bothered to write or post something. Followers sometimes may need a nudge to go to your link.
10. If you’re stuck, ask for help. Twitter is GREAT for getting advice because people love to share what they know and what they think.
11. Really stuck for something to say? Occasionally you can be profound or fun. Send out an inspired quote or just a whimsical picture. Remember what all work and no play did to Jack.
I hope these few suggestions will help you get started or get you out of that rut. If you have any tips I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear from you.
Some people care and others don’t about the quality of the people in their Twitter stream. I think you should care, especially if you’re in business because it’s all about quality and not quantity ( I’ve said this before and will probably say it again), and who really has the time or the desire to follow trolls?
I find these apps help me maintain a vibrant, diverse and relevant Tweet Stream. In just a few minutes a week, I can ensure the trolls are kept at bay.
1. Who Unfollowed Me – http://who.unfollowed.me/ – Find out quickly who unfollowed you. I do this every week and this service is accurate and very straightforward. If you are so inclined, you can unfollow those who unfollowed you immediately from this app. I do, well unless they’re really interesting!
You can also find out what Tweeters aren’t following you and re-check who you aren’t following. However, Who Unfollowed Me will only show you their avatar, so you will have to go to Twitter to find out more about them.
2. ManageFlitter – http://manageflitter.com/– Quite similar to Who Unfollowed Me but different enough to be useful. This app lets you know what Tweeters you follow that aren’t active. A lot of people start with good intentions but then fade away. I generally unfollow people if they have been inactive for over a month.
ManageFlitter will also let you know who isn’t following you back and how active they are – who tweets very little and who tweets too much. You will get more info on Tweeters from here, than just their avatar. You get a short biography, a few details on their activity (how many tweets eg) and their last tweet. If you choose to, you can unfollow them from here.
One minor glitch – if it tells you “No Tweet found” – it’s not right. This only happens sometimes, not quite sure why.
3. Twit Block – http://twitblock.org/ – Essential for getting rid of nuisance accounts, spammers, junk Tweeters and the down right malicious! Because all the good people are on Twitter the unsavory want to crash our party. From here you can scan your followers, your friends and even yourself.
Twit Block also lets you manage your Blocks. I have blocked over 150 people in 2 years. Mostly people who never tweeted or those that offer to provide services that frankly, creep me out.
4. Twit Cleaner – http://thetwitcleaner.com/ – This app analyses the tweeting behavior of the people you follow. It assess how many times they RT, reply, use links and how varied their Twitter stream is.
Some seemingly poor behaviour isn’t always spammy behaviour. For example, news sites and magazines don’t reply or RT a great deal. Twit Clean provides you with the data so you can choose whether to unfollow or not. I usually unfollow someone if their behaviour is dodgy and I can’t remember who they are!
These apps are all quick, easy and reliable. And they are free but if you do like them and use them a lot, they always could use a donation.
The use and abuse of the Twitter stream and what can be done about it. A few thoughts on doing better as it’s getting noisy out there and you’ll have more success if you shine than if you …… don’t.
* Note: As before I’m claiming some authority on this subject due to painstakingly acquired experience and years of geeky knowledge. I’m trying to use my powers for good and point out a few possible foibles you may suffer from and to direct some people to the “naughty step” if I have to!
A (loose) dozen things to stop doing:
1. Your stream is all about you!!!!!!! Me, me, me and blah, blah, blah. The absolutely key to an effective Social Media strategy is understanding it’s a communication tool and that communication needs to go both ways.
2. When you have NOTHING to say – you say it anyway. Relentlessly. Musing is fine, but endlessly pondering your navel is not OK. Maybe you need to get out more?
3. You don’t interact. You never RT, you don’t re-share anyone else’s great stuff and if someone does share something you said you never say thank you. Rude! And you’re surprised no one wants to talk to you!!!!
4. You share nothing original and only RT. Um…. your point?
5. You know where I can get a free iPad. Really!!!? Aren’t we done with this one yet?
6. You’re still just talking about you.
7. You promise me that if I follow you, you will teach me the secrets to finding 1,000,000 new followers. Liar! Almost as old and as bad as telling me I have a long lost uncle in the jungle and if I send you ￡250,00 to your Cayman Island bank account……
8. I don’t understand you. Obviously you are 2G2BT but I 404 what you are saying so ,!!!!
(the translation – Obviously you are to good to be true, but I don’t understand what you are saying, so talk to the hand)
9. You tweet too much! My Twitter stream is full of you. Seriously, you do need to get out more.
10. Um, it’s still just about you. Yes, I’ve mentioned this before, TWICE! It’s THAT irritating.
11. You automate your tweets (I’m fine with that) but they all come at me one right after the other. There’s no opportunity to see what could be of interest because it’s overwhelming and I’m off.
12 You’re always asking for stuff. Please RT this, pass on that, my cat is swimming the channel for charity please sponsor him (10th time this year), donate to that, Does anyone have one of these (for free) ….. and so on.
OK done the rant now. If anyone has any Twitter grievances I haven’t mentioned, please let me know. We can commiserate together
Continuing my mission to make the Internet a more inviting place for humans.
There are an overwhelming 500 million plus accounts on Twitter (not quite as scary as it sounds, as there is some debate on how many are active), but how do you choose who to follow? If you’re not selective you can find yourself wading through a lot of dross to get to the good stuff (and sadly there is a lot of dross). Finding the right crowd is worth it because the better the quality and relevance of who you follow, the more value you will get out any time you spend on Twitter.
I know there are dozens of applications on offer that will find you the 1,000,000 people you must follow and in return they offer the 2,000,000 who will follow and hang on your every word. That is absolutely not where I am at.
I’m not into pointless extravagant numbers that you can’t really manage properly. I much prefer quality. Big brands and big celebrities may have huge numbers but as a SME, I feel it’s critical to know and understand the people you choose to follow. You can and should use Twitter to promote and develop your product/service so you can increase your value to your existing clients and of course entice new clients; making them aware of your unique business propositions.
Collecting or choosing followers is also a time issue. Especially for the small business as you always have to keep in mind why you are spending your valuable time online. Can you really develop a responsive relationship with 1,000,000 followers if you aren’t the size of Coca Cola with a marketing budget the size of the GDP of a developing nation? It’s probably not feasible. Also, really ask yourself do you want to!
If you manage a SME, then Social Media is an essential part of your marketing and communications strategy but not your core business. so quality will trump quantity every time. Follow people you are genuinely interested in, who you like and who will be of use to you. Then remember to involve the people you follow, and not neglect them. Twitter is a great opportunity for you to create a vibrant, closely-knit community in your particular niche.
If you’re like me and want to develop better business relationships then you want to engage and be engaged by Twitter. So be choosy! To help you get started here are a few of my finely tuned selection habits:
1. A really easy idea – I already connect to you in the ether by LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace (they’re still around and rumours of a comeback!), Email, Blog etc etc. If we’re already speaking in another part of the Internet, why not talk on Twitter too?
2. I met you live and in person and:
– I liked you, or
– I feel at some point we could make beautiful music together
i.e. do business.
3. You followed me on Twitter so I checked you out and you appear to be real (not a nasty bot) and have something worthwhile to say – at least occasionally. On Twitter I don’t expect every tweet to be oozing with profound insight, there is a lot of scope for frivolity. But please do come prepared to partake in the “conversation”
4. I actually used Twitter’s homegrown tool to find people I am am interested in. Too easy that one eh?
5. I followed your blog or landed on your website – liked what I saw, so decided to follow you on Twitter.
6. My friends are noted for their impeccable taste so I (mostly) trust their recommendations. As my Twitter friends/followers are also carefully selected and scrutinized, I’ll also follow Tweeters who they think are the “bee’s knees”.
7. You’re Stephen Fry. Sorry, I just can’t help myself!
8. I came across your name somewhere in the physical world i.e. not on the Internet. I believe this does happen occasionally 🙂 In order to keep in touch with “reality”, I unplug every once in a while and have been know to read an actual newspaper!
9. Serendipity. Don’t remember how we found each other but obviously it’s meant to be. Not the greatest tip ever but true.
10. You’re the famous/legendary/earth-bound authority/expert on a subject I’m very interested in. You’re “The One”. I want to pick your brain and learn from you.
11. You’re a client and I taught you everything you know so now I have to keep an eye on you!
However, overall caveat – just because I start to follow you doesn’t mean I’ll stay. To keep my attention – keep it interesting and keep it real and I’m there for the long haul. Start committing Twitter misdemeanors and I’ll be off.
I’m a bit of a organising freak (um enthusiast) so do a radical review of my Twitter list every so often. Hey people change even online and so do I. A clear out is essential so you can get the most out of your world online.
I hope these tips help and if you have any other tips, please share.
Here are my top five. All – you still have to choose – essential to any SME’s marketing arsenal.
1. Obvious first choice is your website – Top of the list because everyone has one now so you have too. It’s practically prehistoric not to have one. Your website is your big “Hello, I’m over here. Nice to meet you. Let’s do business”. You’ll use all other social media applications to drive traffic to your website and therefore to you.
The good news is you can often feed one Social Media tool into another. The more you link up your resources the tighter and more effective your presence on the Internet will be.