I first came across Twitter in 2007 and dutifully created an account. Then I looked at the question “What are you doing right now?” and thought “I am mindlessly looking at Twitter”.
The question was a tough one, being a somewhat private person the idea of venting my most personal thoughts online was unthinkable.
A friend joked that the best response would be “having a shit”. He may have been right.
That Twitter could evolve into a rather nifty PR tool, a DM tool (sorry but it’s true) and customer engagement tool did not occur to me. I wish I could demonstrate that I’m smarter than the average bear by having amazing foresight for the Twitter trend, but I can’t and there are enough people doing this already.
I’ve been experimenting with Twitter a little more recently and here are my quick tips.
Work out what you want from Twitter
Is it a research tool, a PR tool, a customer service tool or a tool to tell your mates you’ve been drinking Long Island Iced Teas and need to be picked up from a pool of vomit. Who you follow and the tools that you use will be dictated by your objectives. If you want to use Twitter to research stuff you will have to search for the thought leaders in that field and follow them. Twitter search is a great way of finding interesting stuff.
Don’t be a slut
The tendency for those intending to use Twitter as a PR and lead generation vehicle is to follow as many people as they can in the hope that 50% will follow back and grow their audience. This is SPAM. Looking at the type of businesses engaging in this activity there are a bunch of self-proclaimed gurus, affiliate marketers and get rich quick drop-kicks. These folks have a legitimate place but I don’t want to look like one of them online or on Twitter. I reckon that the old fashioned way is the best way to build your Twitter audience.
Give people a reason to follow you and you will generate better results.
Twitter is not email
If you do a lot of direct mail the tendency is to approach Twitter as a really fast direct marketing tool. This is quite legitimate but needs to be handled in a slightly different way to email. Tweeple expect something instant and of real value. Expecting tweeple to complete a lead gen form on the back of a post will not work. Offering something really engaging and of real value with a lead gen form probably will work.
Vary your posts so that the people following you are amused, engaged, interested, alerted, informed, alarmed and tickled. The Tweeple following you are just like your website audience and are a bunch of different personas and each will be persuaded differently. Unfortunately I do not know of a great many tools that will help you find out who’s clicking on what and when they do it.
Play nice, but don’t obey the ‘rules’
Twitter is really very simple. You post stuff in under 140 characters and people read it. A grammar has been created by various tweeple to make communicating more effective. Hashtags (#haiku) and retweeting are great examples of creative responses to optimising those measly 140 characters and making twitter more useful. Some people can be a little uptight about the ‘correct’ way twitter should be used. Forget them, there is no bright shining path of correct twitter usage. The only thing you need to remember is that just like you play nice in life you should play nice in twitter.
Twitter has created yet another online diversion. Whilst it can be a great way of putting work off it is also an extremely flexible platform that allows you to quickly connect with an audience, find out information or just be amused.
Tweet you later.