Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘business’

Twitter Thursday #10: Twitter Management Tools

You will not be using Twitter for long before you start to feel overwhelmed by all those tweets. There are several third-party twitter management tools out there, and I’ve had a lot of questions asked about them. So let’s take a look! Here are some of the most notable tools:

HootSuite.com: This is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter accounts as well as Facebook, LinkedIn and others. You can set up personalised columns for these feeds, and you can also compose messages before choosing which social account to post them to.

CoTweet: This comes in a standard free version and a paid premium version, and is aimed at the business market. CoTweet manages up to five Twitter accounts, allowing brand and keyword monitoring using Twitter search. There are useful workflow management capabilities for use with a group of co-users.

TweetDeck: This is your personal, real-time social media browser. It connects you with all your important contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google, Buzz and others. It’s also great for managing multiple Twitter accounts.

There are many other Twitter management tools such as EasyTweets, Seesmic, splitweet, Tweet-visor, Echophon for Firefox users and Silverbird for Chrome users. There is also MarketMeSuite, which I will return to later as it deserves special mention.

The extremely helpful Tweetdeck welcome screen.

My ‘dashboard’ of choice is TweetDeck, so that’s the one I’ll look at in more detail. It is also important to note that as of May 2011, TweetDeck has officially become part of Twitter after Twitter recognised its potential by purchasing the company.

Iain Dodsworth, a London-based programmer, set his mind to organising everything that was happening on Twitter. the result, in 2008, was TweetDeck, which comes in the form of a ‘dashboard’, allowing users to monitor in real-time what others are saying. Particularly useful for power-users, TweetDeck provides a platform from which to monitor and track all the real-time conversations that matter most to them. This makes true engagement with other Twitter users much easier.

The principle feature of TweetDeck is that the user can create groups and so extend the Twitter service. Through these groups, it is possible to check the Tweets of a subset of the user’s followers. These groups appear as columns on the screen, and they can be used to display Friends, News, Mentions, Business tweets or whatever group heading the user chooses to set up.

Additionally, TweetDeck now has the ability to synch groups and settings between the Desktop standalone version of the program and the free iPhone app. Thus you can access the same TweetDeck information at home or on the move.

I mentioned MarkMeSuite earlier. This is another Social Media marketing dashboard designed with business users in mind. As a great bonus, its premium service is now completely free. This application not only allows for Twitter management, but has a wide range of other tools, allowing such things as brand management and unlimited team members (multiple users). It is well worth a look for serious business users.

Twitter Thursday #7: Searching

One of the most useful and yet underused features of Twitter is the Search Engine. From a personal point of view, it can it can be both a useful and a fun tool. For business purposes, when properly used, Twitter Search could become your most valuable marketing tool. (However, please remember everything I’ve said in previous blogs about NOT using Twitter for direct marketing or sales. That still applies here!)

When you have a product to sell or a service to deliver, you need to have a group of people who want that product or service and who are talking about it. You need to be involved in that conversation and to be seen as the ‘go-to’ person for those potential customers.

Remember also that these people may not be followers of yours yet. If you’ve stuck to my advice and built up a community which you help and support, they will become valuable advocates of you and your business. Therefore, their followers will have access to you through them. Just think about that for a moment: you do not need a huge list of followers, but they need to be people that you regularly interact and engage with. Now, add up all their followers and you will see that you can be influencing a massive group of people who are potential clients or customers.

How will the search engine help you to capitalise on this enormous social credit you have developed? First of all, outside of your Twitter home page, go to ‘search.twitter.com’ where you will find a simple search page of the type that you will already be familiar with from sites like Google. Now, the likes of Google are a great place to advertise your business or service, but you may have to pay a lot to be seen in a search. Building a community on Twitter is free. Also, we want to build social credit, not make direct sales.

Twitter Search

Twitter search will allow you to engage with those people who are talking about whatever it is that you do. For example, let’s say that a potential customer of yours is one of the lucky few who have purchased a bunch of tickets for the London Olympics. Soon they may need to start looking for accommodation for the time they will be in London. All the big hotels are already advertising on Google and elsewhere showing their ‘modified’ prices for August 2012!

You, however, might be the proprietor of a small independent hotel or B&B, or even a private homeowner looking to arrange a house swap for the duration of the Olympics. As it gets closer to the time lots of people will be tweeting about their needs. This is when you need to be searching them out and engaging in conversation with them.

This can be applied to so many areas and topics. Try a few random searches , like ‘lake district holidays’, ‘wedding venues’, ‘small business ideas’ etc. Once you have identified a tweet which interests you than you can simply start the interaction with an @reply. The conversation has begun!

Once you have engaged with somebody you need to start providing help and information, so an important first step is tio direct then to your website or blog.

On the search page you will also notice that there is an Advanced Search option. Clicking this will bring up a new page.

A small sampling of Twitter's Advanced Search features. Try it yourself!

This form allows you to filter and specify your search parameters by words, distance, dates, even attitudes.

For this to be successful you need to think like a customer, not like a business. Think about what questions they will be asking. If you combine your use of the search engine with the option to search for people and topics on your Twitter account, you have a powerful marketing tool – without a marketing budget!

Another big plus is that every time you return to the search engine you will find a new list of tweets. It just goes on and on so you can go back to it over and over rather than the more static search results of the traditional search engines.

Have a play with it and do take a look at all the options available on the search pages. Make friends and make them advocates.

Let me know all your successes!

Twitter Thursday #4: More Tools

In the Basic Tools post a couple of weeks ago, we looked at the use of the HASHTAG or #. I’ve had a lot of feedback about this topic, and as promised, I’m returning to it in more detail.

To recap: placing a hashtag (#) before any word in a tweet makes it easier for someone to find it using the SEARCH function above your Twitter timeline. By using this tool, all tweets on the same topic (like #bigevent2011, say) can be found in the same place. It’s a great way to keep all contributions to a twitter conversation together. For this reason, hashtags are often used by the participants on training days or by delegates at a conference. Be creative about how you use this tool. What about implementing a family hashtag to use during a family Twitter conversation? Remember of course that all tweets in a hashtag group are still public, and your messages will still appear in your own TIMELINE.

Also remember F.I.R.E: be Funny, Interesting, Relevant and be an Expert in the topic you’re tweeting about!

I mentioned before that a popular hashtag on Thursday evenings is #BBCQT, which is associated with the weekly BBC’s Question Time programme. Another great example on Thursdays is #UKEdChat. This is a ‘virtual staffroom’ where hundreds of teachers all over the UK come together between 8 & 9pm to tweet about previously set topics.

A great new hashtag is one set up by the Twitter expert Mark Shaw (@markshaw). He recently decided to establish a mutual referral system, with the tag #rfr (requestions for recommendations). Mark sends out an #rfr request every day, so that people can gain new business while helping others to do the same. This is just the type of relationship-building which Twitter is great for.

For other ‘weekly’ hashtags, check out #musicmonday or #charitytuesday. I’ve also set up #wedswisom for my own weekly choice of inspirational quotes on Wednesdays.

An example of a search for the #wedswisdom hashtag. Try it yourself!

Of course, one of the most popular hashtags is #ff, or ‘Follow Friday’. Many people use this as a way of mentioning those followers who they wish to thank, promote or advocate to their other followers at the end of the week. The #ff hashtag itself should ideally be within the middle of the tweet somewhere, rather than right at the end or right at the beginning. Many people do #ff tweets with nothing but a list of mentions attached. In my opinion, this is a very poor way to acknowledge your respected followers. I believe that you should have just one or two mentions per tweet, with a reason given for nominating them. This ties in with the whole ethos of developing meaningful online relationships and with building social capital.

You may have noticed a list of TRENDS on the right-hand side of your Twitter timeline. This will show the most talked-about hashtags or topics across Twitter, and can be tweaked to show what is being talked about either globally or else filtered by local area. These are not linked in any way to your followers or your own tweets. Why not join in with some of these conversations?

Twitter Thursday #3: What Do I Tweet?

Now that you are armed with all the basic tools to get going with Twitter, you need to think about what you’re going to tweet. This will depend first and foremost on your Twitter strategy – what do you want to use Twitter for? You can of course use it solely as a kind of online diary system by tweeting about your everyday life, or you can simply follow the antics of others without ever sending your own tweets.

Twitter, however, is much more than just a broadcasting site. It is a true communications tool which, and at its best, it can be used to create and develop real communities. Too many businesses sign up thinking that they can use traditional sales methods to market themselves on Twitter. Alas, it does not work like that. I would argue that anyone approaching Twitter with that kind of transactional thinking is doomed to failure. We need to develop a different mindset where we listen to others, add value to what they have to say, and then engage fully with them.

At its core, Twitter is about developing relationships. It is about creating followers, not customers, and it is about presenting yourself in such a way that your followers will become advocates. In order to achieve this you will need to be open, variable and supportive. Mostly you will have to be consistent and persistent, since none of this will happen overnight. Twitter success means a long-term commitment – not necessarily a commitment to hours of work, but rather to a little time every day. Your aim as a friend or a business user is to become memorable to your followers/advocates as a go-to person, both for your knowledge and for your willingness to share it.

We belong to a global community. More and more of our interactions take place on the internet. To be a part of this revolution you need to be out there engaging and sharing. You need to ‘go social’!

If your aim is to grow your business, you need to grow your social network and start gathering Social Capital through your online presence. Consider the kind of people you want to interact with and tailor your tweets accordingly. Be Funny, be Interesting, be Relevant and be an Expert in your own knowledge.

Start by retweeting others in order to build your confidence. Use hashtags (#) to start Trends, but be wary of the ‘Trending’ themes featured prominently to the right of your Timeline. They are often flippant, offensive (the worst of the internet tends to be represented in some of them!) and generally a waste of time. Also remember to never be drawn into internet arguments. There is no way to ‘win’ these, and they drain your credibility no matter what the outcome. Above all, write something every day – the internet has a short attention span!

Remember FIRE:

Funny

Interesting

Relevant

Expert

Go social, and have fun!