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Back to basics: Twitter for the unconverted

The social phenomenon Twitter is growing so fast it threatens to overtake other social media channels and change once more the ever evolving social media landscape. Since its inception five years ago, there are already 85 million accounts with one or more followers. The time it took from the first tweet to the billionth tweet was three years, two months and one day.

As a Twitter user you can post nimble, fast, immediate updates in 140 characters, follow and view updates from other users and send a public reply or private direct message to connect with another tweeter. How does Twitter differentiate itself from YouTube or Facebook or any other medium? Short, sharp and tweet in a restricted 140 characters. This paragraph alone is far too long to Tweet!

‘Tweets’ have evolved since I’ve been watching, from sharing mundane everyday experiences to intellectual and immediate news that influence my day. From shared links to interesting content on the web, conversations around hot topics as they unfold, photos, videos, music and most pertinent, real-time accounts from people in the midst of a newsworthy event, crisis or natural disaster.

How to tweet well

With only 140 characters, where do you start? Just getting started is the biggest leap you will take. Then you need to discipline yourself to tweet regularly – in a regular cycle.

How do I start? Getting started is simple, honest:

  • Step 1: Visit the Twitter homepage at: www.twitter.com and click on the ‘Sign Up’ icon.
  • Step 2: Choosing your profile name requires thought – choose one that is easily recognisable, that people will think of when searching for you or your company.
  • Step 3: Go to ‘Settings’ to enter a short bio with keywords that will help identify your interests.
  • Step 4: Finally, upload a photo. This profile photo will be scaled to quite a small size, so choose a photo that sits well.

Generating a following

To get continuous feedback (updates) from other Twitter users you have to ‘follow’ them. And vice versa. If you use the search button on the Twitter app, you can quick search on the Twitter homepage for various profiles and topics of interest; it’s up to you to decide who and what to follow. Start with your friends and people you know.

The use of the hashtag symbol # (shift 3) allows users ‘to find and be found’ by highlighting (hashing) key words known online as ‘trending’. A simple click on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets relevant in that category.

What are @Mention and @Reply?

A reply is an update posted by clicking the ‘Reply’ button on another tweet. There is much conversation on Twitter and sometimes you want to reply. Your reply will always begin with @username. Anyone’s tweet that is a reply to you will show up in your @Mentions tab on your homepage, and likewise, your mention of them on theirs.

Retweets are very effective and if the content is good, will create a viral effect. A click of the mouse allows your ‘Tweeple’ (your followers) to read what you’re reading on someone else’s Twitter feed.

TO (Twitter Optimisation)

Since Twitter is a relatively new craze, there is little to indicate what makes a good tweet especially in a B2B sense. But Twitter is a great customer satisfaction or complaint catcher. With a bit of thought one can optimise a tweet to make it more credible and viral.

Like anything, people will only read the first few words in a search. Twitter space can be as important as a news headline so choose your words wisely and use them effectively.

Things to remember

  • 140 characters = limited amount to say, if re-tweeting keep characters down to 120 allowing room for @mentions.
  • Start a tweet with frontloading, attractive words drawing the eye of the reader eg. the name of a person, company or place, something familiar people want to know more about. Avoid non-information-carrying words.
  • By being specific, users feel like they’re getting concrete and useful information as opposed to words taking up space on a website. Twitter is about updating. Sentences are read and remembered or glanced at and forgotten.

I have a loyal customer base already

While it may not happen in a single 140-character line, Twitter opens the door for connecting with new potential clients, building relationships and even finding new employees.  According to Nielsen:“One in every 11 minutes online globally is accounted for by social network and blogging sites.”

Twitter allows you to discover commonalities with others without having to ‘friend’ them and share your history. There may be opportunity to gain up-to-date news or information for you to share your Twitter voice with others.

Frequency, research and timing

Use Twitter to engage with your audience – keep them coming back and be consistent with your updates. Actor Ashton Kutcher, with over 7 million followers, is a master of Tweeting. Kutcher frequently engages his followers with interesting and lighthearted tweets, often making up to 10 posts a day. He may have a more loyal following of tweeters than he does following his acting career.

But remember, quality is just as important as quantity. Don’t Tweet recklessly – or without consideration for your brand. Take a moment to make sure what you’re saying is factual and reflects your own personal brand. A case in point is Kevin Rudd who in a recent failed attempt to demonstrate his interest in Rugby League, accidentally congratulated the Broncos for winning the State of Origin decider. Rudd instantly received plenty of Twitter backlash for naming the wrong team.  It is wise to stop to think before you tweet!

There are no written rules when it comes to Twitter. Just because someone follows you today, it doesn’t mean they will follow you tomorrow. And you don’t have to follow them. Followers range from one individual into the millions and perhaps one day, beyond. If you don’t want to be bombarded with information, then select the accounts and topics relevant to you that interest you. When tweeting, bear in mind that like you, people’s interest will be generated and kept by factual, lighthearted and entertaining posts that are not promotional or banal.

To tweet or not to tweet?

Twitter has been valued at between $4 million and $10 billion. Fall behind at your peril. It’s worth being in the know and pick the nearest tweeter to you to show you how. Given that the majority of today’s youth doesn’t know a world without social media, a brand could become obsolete if it doesn’t have a decent social media presence and that includes an active Twitter feed. Just ask NAB!

NAB success story kicks off with Twitter

NAB bank’s campaign started on the Friday before Valentine’s Day with what looked like an errant tweet from one of NAB’s corporate Twitter accounts suggesting that the tweeter was preparing to have a difficult break-up conversation.

The next business day – Valentine’s Day – the bank launched its ‘Break-up’ campaign, declaring it was breaking out of the big four banking group to go it alone. With the use of social media, NAB successfully executed a campaign that so far, has caused a stir.

The campaign delivered strong business results for NAB; a 79 percent increase in home loan enquiries, a 50 percent increase in credit card applications, and a 20 increase increase in transaction account openings week-on-week. To date, over 175,000 new customers have joined NAB since 14 February.

–Sharon Williams is founder and CEO of Taurus Marketing

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Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams

Sharon is a pioneer in the Australian marketing industry and is the CEO of one of Australia’s highest profile integrated, B2B marketing, PR and creative agencies; Taurus Marketing. Sharon is a highly experienced International public speaker and trainer and sits on a number of prestigious boards. Sharon’s ‘no bull’ approach will be reflected in her blog, with frank commentary on a variety of topics.

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