Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Celebrities and Twitter Trolls: To ‘Out’ or Not To ‘Out’?

If Twitter has a dark side, then it is surely the emergence of a species of shady, aggressive, socially impoverished tweeters known as trolls. Their appearance has, on occasion, transcended the world of celebrity gossip and made headline news. Just this week we’ve witnessed a flurry of racist tweets directed at the victorious President Obama. Perhaps even more sickening were the truly nasty tweets directed against the singer Adele and her new born baby. As with the Obama tweets, Adele’s legion of dedicated fans reacted with swift and righteous fury. In both these examples, what impressed me most was that the victims did not over react. Adele is not known for holding back when her patience is tested, but to her credit she did not engage in any ugly online sparring.

Not all celebrities have shown such grace. In the heat of the moment, many have fought back, and this has only ever fed the trolls in their need for the limelight. During this summer’s Olympics, we saw the inspirational young Team GB diver Tom Daley get pulled into an online spat with a single misguided young troll. Tom’s quick retweet of the original message to his vast group of devoted followers resulted in a huge escalation of the situation and to the eventual arrest of the troll by the police. This leads me to consider how we respond to trolls and to cyber-bullying, and in particular how celebrities (now including a huge number of celebrity athletes) need to be aware of their responsibilities.

For what it’s worth, my advice to anyone receiving an offensive tweet is DO NOT REPLY. Notice that I have not said IGNORE them. Nor did I say DO NOT RESPOND. The whole issue is more complex than it first appears.

Many people have asked about whether or not celebrities should be on Twitter or other forms of Social Media in the first place Of course they should! I have argued elsewhere that nobody should be on Twitter unless they are there to engage with and interact with their followers. Of course if you have tens of thousands of followers then meaningful individual engagement is just impractical. I do believe, however, that it is still possible to interact with them as a group, and some celebrities do this very well. A celebrity tweeter closes the gap between themselves and their followers in a way that they never could before. Fans get to know them both professionally and personally. We all get to peek behind the scenes in the lives of our favourite celebrities.

But Twitter does not offer any immunity from the realities of life. Just consider the whole group of real people that our paths cross in everyday life. There will be those who know, like, or love us. There will also be many who dislike us, envy us, criticise us or just say nasty things behind our backs because that’s what they do. Celebrities must accept that if they invite their fans into their lives they will experience all these things and possibly worse. They have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. Many people correctly see Twitter as a great way to promote themselves or their work.  They must accept that with this opportunity comes great responsibility. The way that celebrities deal with their detractors says a lot about them. They are ambassadors on many levels and they must act as such.

This year many athletes have achieved celebrity status as never before and social media has connected us in ways never dreamed of even at the time of the last Olympics four years ago. Recent news stories regarding athletes, particularly cricketers and footballers and their blundering use of Twitter, has exposed a situation which needs addressing. The unfortunate incident involving Tom Daley during the Olympics is a great example of why we need to step back and apply some common sense and find strategies to support a less antagonistic response to the trolls.

The Tom Daley incident is well documented elsewhere, and in retrospect it is easy to say that Tom should have ignored the original misguided Tweet. However, in all honesty can any of us say how we might have reacted in the heat of that particular moment with all the pressures of the Olympics resting on grieving 18yr old shoulders?  What it did for me was to confirm that celebrities need help, support, advice or training on how to handle the responsibilities and realities of Social Media and Twitter in particular. Of course whatever the outcome, the blame for such an incident rests squarely on the head of the troll. But at the end of the day, trolls seek the limelight and so the best response is to ignore them. DO NOT REPLY. Nor should you bring them to the attention of your followers. This, as we have seen, can turn them into a posse of vigilante cyber-bullies, no better than the troll who committed the original sin. I firmly believe that Twitter itself needs to take a stronger line in these cases and act much more speedily to close or at least temporarily suspend any offending accounts. Of course if the Tweets are racist, homophobic or seriously threatening then they should be reported to the police immediately.

So we need some practical suggestions, supportive guidelines for athletes and celebrities who wish to have an engaging presence on social media. Twitter in particular is all about instant, real-time communication. In moments of anger, frustration, madness or even elation, it is quite possible that things might be said which will be regretted when calm descends.

My first suggestion then is simply not to react. Pause and put the phone down or switch off the computer. Then go and find somebody to hug, have a good night’s sleep. The next day you can decide if the troll is worthy of any of your time, and I doubt that they will be!

I have elsewhere detailed my core principles for all tweets. Those who know me know all about F.I.R.E. where all your tweets should be Fun, Interesting, Relevant and/or Expert. If your intended tweet does not meet one or more of these criteria then don’t send it. If  temptation is still pulling at you, then try these ‘high level’ filters.

  • Would I say it to his/her face?
  • Do I still want to say it after a cup of tea?
  • Do I still need to send it after a real hug from a true friend?
  • Would I say that to my Mum?

Am I joking? Well, maybe. But does it work? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t send the tweet! Sit yourself smugly on the moral high ground and get back to engaging with all those devoted followers who love you for your hard earned success.

Wealth Health #2: Financial Clarity

In this second part of my ‘Wealth Health’ series, I want to continue to focus on the reality of your financial situation. If you got through all the ‘Questions to Ask Yourself’ in Part 1, then you may have already started taking some action to clarify things. So much the better if you have!

Another way of looking at the reality of your personal finances might be to carry out a SWOT analysis of your current situation. For those who haven’t seen this before, it is a very common business planning tool which can be adapted to a wide variety of situations – including personal finances. SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In his book You and Your Money, Alvin Hall gives the following clear example:

STRENGTHS                                                    WEAKNESSES

Good spending habits                                        Bad spending habits

Knowledge of financial situation                          Emotions/thoughts (e.g. shame,  fear, anger)

Earning capacity                                               Lack of financial knowledge

 

OPPORTUNITIES                                             THREATS

Inheritance                                                      Lack of cash

Promotion                                                       Interest rate increases

Renegotiating Interest Payments                       Possible redundancy

 

This could be written into a grid of 4 boxes (2×2), or you could use the four headings written at the top of four pieces of paper and then add your own notes and ideas. Remember that as before, this exercise is for you alone, so be true to yourself when completing it.

While working through this task, you could start to ask yourself about your attitude to money and finances. What are your beliefs about money? This will be the subject of part 3, when we will look at some of your deeply-held beliefs and feelings regarding money.

In the meanwhile you can follow my tweets for tips, quotes and more questions regarding your personal or business finances. Be sure to also follow my #WealthWealth and #WedsWisdom hashtags!

Twitter Thursday #11: The Perfect Tweet – Why?

One of the best things about writing my regular Twitter blog has been the questions which it generates. Indeed, the series has developed partly to respond to emerging themes in the feedback I’ve received. This current posting is a good example and comes in response to a host of queries about the finer points of writing Tweets. I’ve had questions about the importance of spelling, grammar, punctuation, number of characters, content, readability and when to include links. They all come down to the same issue: how to write the perfect Tweet.

I have argued previously that Twitter is pointless without engagement. Even your closest friends and followers may soon tire of your broadcasting if you have not made the effort to build your own interactive online community. In order for this to happen, as my regular readers now know, there are four guiding principles that I use for all Twitter activity. Yes, it’s FIRE again! Are your Tweets Fun, Informative, Relevant, or Expert? By testing against these principles, your Tweets will reach their two main goals, namely READABILITY and RE-TWEETABILITY.

Whether you have purely personal, social or business aims in mind, Twitter is now fast becoming the most effective platform from which to engage with real people online. These may be friends, colleagues or clients, but twitter has given us the means to engage with them all. We can start accumulating social credit with our community of loyal potential advocates.

Of course these same advocates can soon become jaded followers or even influential critics. To avoid this you need to know your readers and always give them the very best Twitter experience. Your Tweets should be given the same care and attention as a poet does to a well-crafted verse. Only then can you be sure that all your followers will read your words and want to pass them on.

By the way. How about a quick maths lesson to finish? Let’s say you have 1000 Twitter followers hanging onto your every word. Even if they only have an average of 500 followers each, if they read and pass on your messages then you have a potential readership of half a million people! Food for thought?

In my next Twitter blog we will look at how to craft the perfect Tweet:

· Be a Beacon of Excellence

· Know your Audience

· The Optimum Number of Characters

· Grab the Attention

· Perfect Spelling

· Flawless Grammar

· Impeccable Punctuation

· Shortening Links

· Get a Twitter Buddy

· FIRE up your Content

Happy Birthday to an Amazing 20yr Old!

Two days ago, on 6th August, my first tweet of the day included a birthday greeting to the World Wide Web. Is it really only 20 years old? The internet itself had already been around for over 30 years when the web was invented, but it was a tool of academia and the military. It was neither accessible nor comprehensible to the outside world.

After much hard work by a team of experts, a 36 year old physicist named Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website on a computer at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland where he worked. On 6th August 1991 the world changed forever. The website was info.cern.ch and the first web page, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/www/theproject.html, was a very basic set of links to technical information about the project. The original page no longer exists, but a 1992 copy of it can be found on the World Wide Web Consortium website:

The inventor, now Sir Tim Berners-Lee, could never have predicted the way his baby has grown over the past 20 years. The Web permeates to every corner of the world and every facet of human behaviour. It took about 2 years before the web entered the public domain but its growth since then has been staggering. We tend to take for granted that the World Wide Web is now the place where people meet and engage, knowledge grows rapidly and creatively and businesses trade and expand. We see revolutions rise by the power of the web and of course we watch animals, children and drunks do the funniest things!

The web has many detractors and we are always being told that it is about to collapse under the weight of spam or porn residing on it. However, only 12% of websites are porn and 25% of searches are porn related. Legitimate (?) use far outstrips this. I think we can take great comfort from the fact that Sir Tim is still actively involved in nurturing his baby and he remains excited about its future.

Many are worried that a few large companies are dominating the web and even attempting to ring fence parts of it for their own personal gain. The history of the web, however, tells us that nothing is certain. One of the best features of the web is the speed at which new things can come along and very quickly change what has gone before.

It may appear that Google dominates, but there is always the rumble of the next big thing about to march over the horizon. It is a sobering thought that there are still some 6 billion web pages in Mandarin which are as yet not indexed by the search giant. In China the search engine of choice is not Google but Baidu which accounts for 75% of all searches. The ‘Twitter of China’ is a relatively new site called Sina Weibo which accrued some 40 million users in its first 2 months. The online population in China has so far this year risen by 6% to 485 million, but some two thirds of the population have yet to go online!

What of the future? It is impossible to predict what will happen on the World Wide Web over the next 20 years or beyond. Will ‘Apps’ or the ‘cloud’ be the vogue? One certain development will be the increased use of web addresses using other languages and other alphabets. The ability to access the web using languages other than English will open it up for a vast, as yet unconnected, portion of the global population

Developments in technology will allow the web to become ever more mobile and to be accessed by devices far removed from any traditional computer. Interestingly it appears that web developments in China tend to be about creative use of the web itself and not about any particular technology.

The biggest question being debated now is whether or not the Web is changing the way we think and behave. Is it changing the way our brain works? Are we moving away from learning a lot of factual information because we can always find it on the web?

The simple answer is yes! Technology has always had a hand in changing the way we think and behave. I would argue that every significant change in human development has been triggered by the development of new technology. Early on it was fire and the wheel. Then it was Roman roads allowing the spread of civilisation on the new ‘network’. Of course there was the printing press too. What defines us as human is our ability to reflect and to adapt; developing new skill sets to cope with these changes and to take advantage of them. We may no longer need to learn lots of factual ‘stuff’ but we need to develop our skills of review, critique and creativity.

One thing we can be sure of is that when we come to mark the web’s ‘coming of age’ a year from now we will be learning to use web based tools not even invented yet. Will I be writing a 21st birthday blog in a year’s time or will I have moved on to a newer way of engaging with you all? Whatever exciting new tool/app I use it will be dependent on an even bigger World Wide Web.

Twitter Thursday #8: Retweets and #ff

This blog series has generated many questions from readers and I have enjoyed responding directly to most of them. Many of the questions are similar, and so it seems sensible to cover these topics in a further blog posting. Today I will look at two recurring themes. One is about how to edit, or add text to a retweeted message. The other is about the use of the hashtag, more specifically the #ff which has generated more comments and questions than any other aspect of TwitterI have mentioned to date.

Editing Retweets

In Twitter Thursday #2 I wrote about the use of the RETWEET. This is a simple way of sharing a message delivered to your timeline with all of your FOLLOWERS as well as the person who originally sent it to you. Just 2 button clicks and it’s done. Occasionally, however, you get the urge to add a few words in support of the message. You will quickly find that it is not possible to edit the message during the standard retweet process. But there is a way!

Rather than clicking on RETWEET, highlight the message and copy it. Next you need to paste the message into your ‘What’s happening’ text box at the top of your timeline. It will appear as would any message you were going to tweet yourself, and as such it can be edited. First you need to type at the start of the message ‘RT<space>@Twitter name e.g. RT @timorahilly. This properly labels it as a retweeted message. Now you can add your own words to the message and click the Tweet button.

Of course you are still limited to a total of 140 characters. Don’t be tempted to delete the name of the originator to gain more characters. For this same reason, if you want to have your messages retweeted, a good tip is to keep your character count below a maximum of 120. This allows others to retweet your messages without having to edit them.

Follow Friday (#ff)

I wrote about #ff and other uses of the HASHTAG in Twitter Thursday #4, but have found myself replying to many questions and comments about it since then. First of all, do remember that nobody owns hashtags or has any control over their use. You can start your own hashtag at any time. Just use the SEARCH tab to see if it is already in use.

For the history of the #FF I refer to Twitter expert @markshaw who tells me that it began life back in January 2009 when Micah Baldwin proposed the use of ‘Follow Friday’ as a tool for those unsure of whom to follow. His idea was that a good way to start might be to follow those people who were recommended by others.

The theory is great but in practice, over time, #ff has lost a lot of its meaning and all too often I see the hashtag followed by a whole list of followers. As such I believe it is being misused! Lets get back to the spirit of Follow Friday. Be a real advocate to your valued followers and list them because you have good reason to recommend them to others. In each tweet, just mention one or two followers and give a clear reason why they deserve your advocacy. Here are some examples of my own #ff :

How do you choose who to list? That’s easy when you apply my FIRE principle. If their tweets are Fun, Interesting, Relevant and/or Expert then pay them the compliment of a well-deserved #ff. Give yourself the satisfaction of a positive and upbeat end to the week and have a great weekend.

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 #6: Managing Followers

Now that we have looked at whom to FOLLOW, it’s time to consider our FOLLOWERS and how to manage them. If you’ve been using Twitter for any length of time, you will have already started to follow a few people or organisations. You may also have looked with envy at some of the ‘celebrities’ you are following and the huge numbers associated with them.

I know that these are exceptional examples, but even so: Stephen Fry is heading for a following of 3 million whilst he chooses to follow about 53,000 of them. How many tweets can he be expected to read every day, let alone interact with? President Obama has close to 9 million followers, of which he follows 700,000. Really? Do you think he is sitting in the Oval Office engaging with the tweets of all those people?

It is useful from the start to have a clear strategy to help you to decide who to follow. Many ‘old hands’ on Twitter would have us believe that the only ethical strategy is to FOLLOW-BACK everyone who follows us. Yeah, right. Barrack Obama following 9 million tweeps makes a lot of sense. When you actually look at how these people manage their accounts, we soon see that the bulk of those they are following are confined to a general Twitter stream that is never looked at. Where are the ethics in that?

Let’s not forget that Twitter is SOCIAL MEDIA, and as such we surely want to build a community with whom we can ENGAGE and INTERACT.

When deciding who to follow, my strategy is very simple. It will come as no great surprise to my regular readers that I apply my FIRE principle here too. I want to follow people who are Fun because they brighten my day. I also want to read Interesting tweets on a whole range of different topics. Otherwise I want to read tweets that are Relevant either to me, my life or my business. Finally I want to follow people who are Experts in their chosen field. By applying this strategy I know that I am building a small but valued following who are adding value to my life, as I hope I am to theirs.

Yes, I do follow some people who are not so much engaging as BROADCASTING. That’s because they broadcast good CONTENT, so the FIRE filter is happy. I follow those who I respect as gurus in their field e.g. Social Media. A word of caution about gurus, however: I get to decide who they are, not them! If anyone declares themselves to be a guru then they are likely to be suffering from terminal vanity and not worth the follow.

My measure of value in all things is ‘have I learnt something’? From Twitter I am learning new things every day.

Some broadcasters are simply pushing themselves, their products, or their angst, so they fail the test of FIRE. These people are using Social Media for self-promotion and forgetting to be, ah yes…. SOCIAL!

I would recommend regular spring cleaning of your FOLLOWED list. I will happily UNFOLLOW anyone who has:-

  1. No picture – the ‘egg heads’
  2. No profile
  3. Not tweeted for a month or more
  4. Spammed

By spamming I mean anyone who

  1. Sends meaningless tweets
  2. Wastes any of their 140 characters on frequent profanities (we all have special occasions)
  3. Attempts direct sales/marketing
  4. Buys lists of followers – they are easily spotted.

If you are looking for likely FIRE worthy followers, then start by looking at the FOLLOW lists of those that you already follow. Also take note of anyone who they choose to RETWEET.

Of course you are now well on the way to the first 100 valued tweeps in your interactive and engaged community. You might be starting to wonder how you’re going to cope with all this Fun, Interesting, Relevant and Expert information streaming in. There are many third party software applications to help with this. My personal favourite is Tweetdeck…but more of that next time!

Twitter Thursday #5: Who Do I Follow?

If you’ve been following this blog series, you will hopefully be using your Twitter account to communicate Fun, Interesting, Relevant and Expert tweets to all your followers. But who are you following? How do you find followers and why do you follow them?

Usually the first people you follow will be a few friends or family members who are already using Twitter. You might then search out some ‘celebrities’ to follow. This can be fun for a while, but you will soon want to engage with people more fully and to start building your Twitter community.

A good way to start looking for people to follow is to click on the WHO TO FOLLOW tab on your home page. This will show you a list of suggestions for people to follow based on anyone you are already following. On this page you will also see a SEARCH bar and an INVITATION option too. The SEARCH bar allows you to look for topics or people of interest to you.

The 'Who To Follow' page. Note the outlined 'Who To Follow' link in the upper-right corner!

 

Here again I suggest that you apply my FIRE principle to anyone you might want to follow. Are they Fun, Interesting, Relevant and Experts in what they do?

The INVITE option allows you to search for friends or followers by name. If your search is successful, simply click on the green FOLLOW button and you are done.

Remember what a follower is:

  1. Once you choose to follow somebody, every time they tweet an update, you will see it in your timeline.
  2. When you choose to follow somebody, it does not mean that they are following you. They will have to opt for that themselves.
  3. If they do choose to follow you, then your tweets will appear to them too.

Of course once you have seen somebody’s tweets, you may feel that you no longer wish to follow them. This is easily resolved by simply clicking on their name and then on the green FOLLOWING button. That person will then become UNFOLLOWED by you and you will no longer see their updates.

It is worth noting that Twitter applies strict rules regarding aggressive following. By default, every user can follow a maximum of 2000 people. If you reach this limit, Twitter will then limit your following ability. This limit is different for everyone and is based on the ratio of your followers to your following.

Next time we will address the difficult problem of how to attract followers yourself. More importantly, we will consider whether you need a follow-back policy to help manage your growing community.

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!

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