Monday, March 7, 2011

Twitter for the Newby

I'm a big fan of Twitter (@SmilinCatStudio).  It's my favorite social media platform.  I can easily find and follow others who have similar interests or senses of humor.  Anybody can find me.  Anybody can follow me.  When I'm working at home alone, it's nice to have other tweeps to chatter with if I'm missing the interaction with coworkers and water cooler conversations. 

If you're just starting out with Twitter though, there are some basic rules you should follow to get and keep people interested in your tweets.  There are two sources that I learned a lot from and I'd recommend you check out as well (and no, I'm not being compensated for my recommendations): the book UnMarketing by Scott Stratten (@unmarketing)  and Marian Schembari's blog (@marianschembari).  My list below are things I've learned or observed, many of which are probably said better by Scott and Marian.
  1.  Create a Twitter profile that says something about you and the reasons why you have a Twitter account at all.  Be witty.  Be charming.  Include your website. Now read your profile.  Would you want to follow you? 
  2. Add an image to your profile.  If you just use the default Twitter egg, you won't be taken seriously and may be mistaken for a spammer.  You can use a photo of yourself or something representative of your life or business.  Just be sure it has enough detail that it can be recognized at a small size.  And again, look at your image.  Would you want to follow you? 
  3. Don't automatically follow everyone who follows you.  There are spammers our there who will follow you and people who are tweeting things that you may disagree with on a political or moral level that you just don't want to have associated with you.  Don't follow them. 
  4. Don't just try to sell me things when you tweet.  I will stop following you.  I want to know something about your personality.  How's your day going?  What are you working on today? What did you have for lunch?  What kinds of things do you retweet?  Make yourself real to me.  You can sell things to, just not all the time.  This is what Unmarketing is all about.
  5. Don't tweet the same thing over and over and over and over again.  If you don't have anything to say, don't tweet.  Or find another way to say it.  These are usually sales messages anyway, so change it up before you lose followers. 
  6. When you retweet, don't just hit the "retweet" button, type in "RT @smilincatstudio" or whoever you are retweeting.  Retweeting is a way of networking and if you just hit the "retweet" button, the person being retweeted doesn't necessarily know that they were heard and passed on.  See Marian's "Please (for the love of GOD) stop using the retweet button!" for more about this topic.
  7. Use a program like HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage your account.  These programs make it easier to see who may have retweeted, mentioned, or direct messaged you.  It's also an easy way to manage multiple Twitter accounts if you have them and to create feeds for topics of interest to you. 
  8. As much as it may seem like a good idea to tweet 24 hours a day, don't schedule tweets.  Sure, you may have something that people on the other side of the world just have to know about, and that's okay once in a while.  People expect you to be present when you tweet and even respond if you reply to them.  They tend to feel cheated if they see a tweet from you every 30 minutes like clockwork, even at 3am.  
  9. Remember, tweets are short-lived, but long-remembered.  For those who are following lots of people, your tweet will just be a blip on the radar.  So make it a worthy blip.  On the other hand, once you've tweeted, your tweet remains in cyberspace forever.  So don't say anything that could potentially embarrass you or your company.  

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