Twitter for Twits
A lot of our clients ask us about Twitter – the “microblogging” sensation that’s about to be the next big thing. This article will attempt to break it down…
First thing first, What is Twitter?
Basically, Twitter is like Facebook status updates, or a microblog, where you can post your activity, your whereabouts or your musings in 140 characters or less. Each post is called a “tweet”
Is it easy to use?
Incredibly. Just go to twitter.com and sign up to a free account. Edit your profile information and type your first tweet into the dialogue box.
What’s the point?
This is a good question. Out of the estimated 6 million users currently using Twitter, many offer very little value in their tweets. Who wants to hear the mindless drivel of a complete stranger every hour of the day? But unlike Facebook, Twitter allows us to stay in the loop by following the updates of people we’re really interested in. For instance, followers of Barack Obama would have read his tweet “We just made history” the night he was elected. Lance Armstrong (currently with 164,345 followers) recently recovered a stolen bike by tweeting about it on Twitter. And as The Times reports, “Twitter’s real coming of age is generally dated to the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year, when minute-by-minute updates of the unfolding chaos zipped around the world by eye-witnesses armed with Twitter on their laptops and mobile phones.”
How are businesses using it?
The important thing to remember is that it’s not the company or the brand that’s doing the tweeting, it’s an individual within the company that is. Each time you tweet, you’re giving a voice to your brand, so choose your words wisely!
Also, businesses can use Twitter to find out what people are saying about them. There are many instances of a person venting about a company or product on Twitter, only to be contacted by that company and have the situation rectified. Think of the online word-of-mouth potential.
Some companies are even giving up the idea of a permanent website altogether. As David Armano points out on his blog Logic+Emotion, “If you point your Web browser to Skittles.com, you will not be greeted by the familiar sight of a highly “experiential” or branded site complete with games and promotions—instead, you will go to a Twitter search result page that shows you what people are saying about the brand in real time. The “siteless website” then places a “widget” above the Twitter search result and lets you navigate to other destinations, mostly distributed across the Web, from product pages on Facebook, to video channels on You Tube, to simple product information on Wikipedia and don’t forget photos on Flickr.”
Some basic Twitter Tips
1. Find some “Tweeple” to follow. You can search your email contacts, use the “find people” feature on Twitter, or search for subjects that interest you. The more people you follow, the more interesting your Twitter home page will be.
2. Be yourself. Write a quick note about what you’re up to, or use it to build interest by referencing things that aren’t yet public – revealing news on Twitter first will build your Twitter fanbase.
3. Keep it short and sweet. Only tweet when you have something worthwhile to say, and you don’t have to use your whole 140 characters every time. Use Tiny URL to turn long web addresses into Twitter-friendly ones.
4. Be a good citizen. Limit the frequency of your posts or else it might seem like spam. Follow other people, but don’t request them to add you – they’ll do it of their own accord if you’re you’re Tweets are interesting to them. If someone decides to follow you, it’s a good idea to follow them in return. If someone you follow posts an interesting update or link – copy and paste it into your update box with RT (retweet) at the start and post it.
5. Reply to a specific person by putting @ at the front of the name of the username you are responding to. Even if they are not following you, they are alerted to your post. Remember everyone can see these. If you want to message someone privately put a D or DM in front of the name and then your message
6. Scan for customers. Search for your company name, products, and learn what people are saying about you. Enter your search term and click the RSS link in the upper-right to permanently track search results. Reply to customers through Twitter. For an example, see Lesley’s blog post on the LL Bean case from last week.