I have held a number of marketing leadership roles during my career and I am very comfortable with new technology. I have launched first mover products, started new business models and created totally new market segments within the technology industry. My point is I usually get things rather quickly, but I got to confess to you Twitter actually threw me for a loop for a while.
If you are starting to tweet, stick with it. It takes a little time to understand its purpose and value. From a business perspective, the benefits are not as obvious as Search Engine Marketing, using Facebook or blogging like I am doing now. Micro blogging on Twitter really is its own unique animal. Similar to advice I have provided before regarding Social Media, to get the hang of it you really need to just jump in and start doing it.
Twitter Etiquette: As with all the Social Media venues, there is a protocol and a set of etiquette you will want to be aware of and follow. The faster you pick these up the quicker you will grow a loyal following. It doesn’t matter what drum beat you march to, there is a group, a community and a Twitter feed for you. Don’t wait to get asked to the dance, just start dancing. It can become rather addicting and very rewarding when you start to see the benefits. Here are 10 tips I have learned that should be helpful in getting you started.
- Ask topical questions: People on Twitter like to get engaged in back and forth conversations. Questions are a good thought starters and a great way to get a dialog going. It’s an easy way to get started and to test the water when you first start tweeting.
- Post useful facts, tips and content: In addition to the short conversations, most people are on Twitter to find out information. It’s the whole “give to get” thing. Make sure you are giving value to the community and the people who are following you. Unless you are a famous person, you should focus on posting interesting facts, helpful tips and valuable free content.
- Say thank you: It is common Twitter etiquette to say thank you when someone decides to follow you, adds you to a list or retweets one of your tweets. Do it frequently.
- Acknowledge others: Retweeting other people’s tweets is a form of acknowledgment. You should also acknowledge the other person by adding a comment to your retweets, i.e., great tip, helpful info, thanks for sharing, etc.
- Ask for Twitter help: Tell people what you are looking for or what you are interested in. It’s also OK to ask for help on how to best use Twitter and leverage the tools that area available. People on Twitter want to engage with you and they like to help.
- Introduce yourself: When you gain followers send them a personal note and introduce yourself. Tell them something about yourself so they can connect with you. You can do this in a direct message or some people do it in the public Twitter feed.
- Answer other people’s questions: Respond to other people’s questions that ask. Try to always add value by giving a thoughtful answer and maybe even give them a helpful link on the topic they have tweeted about. Be honest, real and show your personality.
- Inform people when you add them to your Twitter list: Give your friends a shout-out to let them know when you add them to your Twitter lists. Another way to acknowledge them and to give them recognition.
- When you get added to a list say thank you: When you get added to a list usually that means you share the same interests with them. Say thank you and tell them something about yourself. Make the connection and keep the conversation going.
- Attend Twitter events: People following live events can be identified by the hashtag. If you decide to jump in on an event first introduce yourself. Follow up with a direct message to those you had similar interests with and that you valued their contributions.
Twitter for Business: Twitter like other forms of Social Media is all about giving to the community or in this case the crowd that follows you. Before you get accepted you need to first give value. If you are seen as only there to sell something (self interest), people will not respond to you. You should use it to showcase your thought leadership and to create brand differentiation by providing unique and valuable content. Customers want to buy from people they like and respect. Once they have an affinity for your expertise they will reward you. It’s OK to open up and show your personality. Social Media is based on trust and making connections that provide a mutual benefit. Like-minded people will follow you.
Given my background in technology, it is hard to acknowledge, as I bite my lip, that I was dumb founded at first with Twitter. Its value to business is not obvious. However, after several months of use and some trial and error I’ve got to tell you that it really is an amazing form of communications and it should be included as part of your Social Media playbook. Once you take the right steps you’ll get the swing of things and find your rhythm. Twitter is not difficult. No matter if you are a Boomer, Gen Xer, Gen Yer or part of the Lost Generation, if you understand some of the basic protocols, etiquette and ways to engage the crowd, you will soon find value in Twitter.