Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter Thursday’

Twitter Thursday #12: The Perfect Tweet – How

In the previous Twitter blog I looked the reasons why your Tweets need to be perfectly written. In this post, I’ll go through the techniques that you need to master if you want to craft the perfect tweet.

1. Be a Beacon of Excellence.

If you’ve been using Twitter for any length of time, you will have already started to become a selective reader. With no hope of reading all the messages streaming into your timeline, you will have started to scan the column for the avatars (pictures) or usernames of your favourite profiles. Even then you will not read everything written by your best friend or biggest client (although maybe you should). We are not Twitter auto-bots clicking on everything ‘just because’. Try to notice what it is that entices you to stop, read, and click on the link.

This same filtering applies to new followers. We notice their Tweets because they are new, but only if they write well will they become an addition to our mental list of worthy Tweeters to follow closely. Of course if the quality of their engagement falls off, we may lose interest and unfollow them – even if only in our heads. You need to be excellent to get noticed, but you need to be consistently excellent to stay noticed. The best beacons shine out in all directions. Your well-crafted Tweets need to get re-tweeted in all directions too.

2. Know Your Audience.

Apply FIRE to everything that you do on Twitter. Remember that you are writing for an audience of critical readers. This may seem obvious, but you are not the target of your own Tweets – your online community is.

Twitter itself is not your sales counter. Do not attempt to be a Twitter salesperson. Likewise, be wary of too much self-promotion. By all means provide links to your own content and use Twitter to drive people to your website, but be subtle. Any attempts at direct sales or blowing your own trumpet too loudly will lead to you being thought of as little more than a source of spam. As Jim Rohn says “Don’t blow your own horn, or you might just miss the music”.

3. Optimum Number of Characters.

Of course we are all well aware of the 140 character limit for Tweets but there are two very important additional considerations here.

Firstly, for your messages to be re-tweeted you need to allow enough space for the re-tweet details to be added. This may take 20 characters, so your message is now down to a total of 120. Secondl,y if you are adding a link this may need another 20 characters so you need to refine your message to be well-crafted and only 100 characters long!

Of course there may be times when the ability to re-tweet may be risked for the sake of good copy, but beware; if this happens too often, your community will stop trying, or worse, your perfect Tweet maybe deformed by “txt spk” before being sent on. Of course as a re-tweet, everyone will assume that you wrote the abbreviated version!

4. Grab the Attention.

You need to grab your follower’s attention, making them want to read your Tweets and click on your links. Remember, obvious selling should not be an option. Most people hate the idea that they are being sold to, especially in social media, so be artful and make it look like you’re doing something else.

No matter how consistently good you have been, your followers still need a good reason to read your work. Take a look at your Twitter screen. Things happen fast, and you will be faced with multiple Tweets, therefore multiple choices at any one time. More so if you are using groups and column feeds. Your follower need only refresh the screen once and your tweet is gone from their attention for over.

Remember that even if your only intention is to get people to read your latest blog, you have to ‘sell’ the link. You also need to be aware that people don’t buy products, they buy benefits, so what is the benefit (reason) that will get them to click on your link?

It is worth noting a couple of strange Twitter behaviours here. Firstly, well-written Tweets may well get re-tweeted even if your follower has not clicked on the link or read the content themselves. Take it as a compliment that they trust and believe in you that much. Secondly, by the same token I would warn against ever re-tweeting a link which you have not checked first yourself-unless of course you wish to be a friend to spammers everywhere!

5. Perfect Spelling.

Maybe this is the school teacher in me, but I believe that the next three points are fundamental to professional, readable Tweeting. I make no apology for this but if any of it scares you then number 8  below will hopefully throw you a lifeline.

Like it or not you will be judged on how you write and how you spell.  This may seem patronising, and you will say “but so-and-so has 2 million followers and they can’t spell”. This  may be true, but if ‘so-and-so’ is a celebrity, people will follow them no matter what they say or how they say it. You and I, dear mortal being, do not have that luxury, so let’s make do with excellence instead. Please consider typing your tweets into your favourite word processor first and spell-check them. Avoid ‘txt spk’. You may think it’s cool, but it can make you appear at best lazy and at worst in possession of a limited education.

6. Flawless Grammar.

  • Make sure that every Tweet and every sentence in a Tweet starts with a capital letter.
  • Give every proper noun (name) a capital letter. Please note that Twitter and Tweet are names.
  • Leave one space after every full stop.
  • Use apostrophes properly and learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re and also their, there and they’re.
  • Don’t type in UPPERCASE as it will look like you’re shouting.

7. Impeccable punctuation.

Whatever your personal feelings about accurate punctuation, it is the feelings of your followers that matter. Enormous numbers of people get very irate about incorrect punctuation. I’ve covered some points already, but in addition to correct sentence structure, use commas and speech marks correctly and avoid using too many exclamation marks. Also use hyphens and semi-colons sparingly but effectively.

A good self-check is to read your tweet aloud to yourself. Are the natural breaks and breathing spaces punctuated.

8. Find a Twitter Buddy

Be honest with yourself regarding spellings, grammar and punctuation. If you are at all unsure of your own abilities (and perhaps if you’re not), then seek out a Twitter buddy. This person will take on the role of your very own copy-editor, checking over your Tweets, where possible before you post them. A fresh pair of eyes will often see things which we have missed ourselves.

9. Shortening Links.

Twitter will automatically shorten URLs if you include them, but the bulk of the link will remain intact. In order to shorten the link as much as possible it is worth using one of the third party applications. For the serious user I would recommend using bit.ly for very clear reasons. Not only does Twitter handle bit.ly shortened URLs very well, but there are added benefits too. The stats pages are great and can provide a wealth of useful information about the use of your link. Scroll down the page to show your shortened links and then click on the ‘Info page +’ next to the link. This will open a new page of very clearly presented information about the link.

10. FIRE up your Content.

All this may seem like hard work when twitter is supposed to be ‘instant’ and ‘fun’. It can still be fun, but a little consistent work now will pay great dividends and the effort will soon become second nature. You will gain respect within your network and this will add to your online social capital.

Above all don’t lose sight of your twitter content. Make sure it passes one or more of the FIRE tests. Is your Tweet Fun, does it Inform or Inspire, Is it relevant and/or is it Expert information?

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

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 #9: Tweeting Images

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we have the ability to extend the Twitter limit of 140 characters with ease! We can add images to our tweets very easily and effectively.

There are now a large number of third-party services which allow images to be shared on Twitter. In some ways these have been superseded by Twitter’s own image sharing feature. There are, however, some good reasons to consider using a third party option to attach images to your tweets.

Flickr is a powerful image and video hosting site and only community owned by Yahoo! It’s popular with bloggers for hosting images embedded into blogs and social media.

pikchur allows you to upload pictures and videos, then shares them throughout your social network on Facebook, flickr, Twitter etc.

Twitgoo resembles twitter itself, but asks ‘What are you looking at?’ rather than ‘What’s happening?’

yfrog is a popular photo sharing site which now lets you chat with other users too!

By far the largest and most popular of the Twitter-related services is Twitpic, which grew rapidly in January 2009 after some of the earliest pictures of the Hudson River plane crash were shared on the site.

All of these sites are easy to join and easy to use, but it comes as no surprise that Twitter would want to add a photo-sharing service to its growing list of additional features.

With the web becoming more and more ‘real-time’, twitter is arguably the most important way for people to share content as it becomes available. We can of course (and many do) add links to images, webpages, blogs and YouTube videos to our tweets. But Twitter has now made it very easy to add images directly to any tweet you send.

In the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed two new icons appearing underneath your tweets as you type them. One of these is a camera symbol.

Note the new camera icon in the lower left-hand corner!

Simply click this and browse the files on your computer for the image you wish to add. Double click on the image and a thumbnail will appear under your message. Once you’ve added the image, the character count to the left of the Tweet button will update to allow for the number of characters used for the image’s link, which is how the image will appear to your readers once the tweet is sent.

The tweet contains 32 characters, yet Twitter is reporting that there are only 101 characters remaining.

As with all such features, the Twitter image service has its pro’s and con’s. Click on your ‘profile’ tab and you will see that all your recent images now appear as a gallery on your front page. This includes any images which you have retweeted. This can be great news if you have lots of pictures related to what you do. Share them all and they will appear to anyone looking at your profile. The downside, of course, is that if you tweet any images which go against your personal or brand values, they will now be out there for all to see.

How do you choose which images to post? You may well already know what my advice will be! F.I.R.E  your images! Are they Fun, Interesting, Relevant or displaying your Expertise? Then share away.

As with all these features, go play around with image sharing and have fun!

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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