So now that you know where I am coming from in this social networking world, I would like to share some of the tips that I wish I had known about before spending hours surfing the web and lots of trial and error. This is not to say there is not a better way; in fact, I’m hoping that the comments section of this blog will be a very useful place where others post their suggestions for social networking, including Twitter.
So without further ado, here are some of the tips and tricks I have picked up so far with my experience with Twitter.
1. If you’re not already on Twitter, I recommend you sign up right away. It is totally free and takes about 2 minutes of your time to sign up and about 15 minutes to customize it to your company look. I highly recommend that you do customize your Twitter page and at the very minimum make sure to add an Avatar (Small image representing you or your company). It can be a company logo, picture of you or a picture of your business. Leave it all public and use the golden rule of social networking. “If you would not say it to someone’s face, then don’t put in on the web.”
2. Once you are set up, you need to start getting people to follow you. The best way to do that is to find some of your customers (or potential customers) on Twitter. Twitter has a nice little search function that will find people by their names, and then there are a number of excellent tools to use:
a. From your marketing plan (See my Blog about why you should do a marketing plan) you need to search for your target market. The best tools I found were http://twitterel.com/ and http://wefollow.com/. Find some people who are interested in what you have to sell and start following them. A lot of them will in turn follow you back and your list will start growing.
b. Once you have a bit of a list going, you can find other people with similar interests by checking out some of the people you follow and then checking their “following” list. You can do this manually, but there is also a cool tool by Bob Lee (software engineer at Google) called Twubble. You put in your Twitter user name and password and the app searches your “following” list for other Twitter people who are being followed by two or more people on your “following” list. (That is like trying to explain to someone your relationship to a 3rd cousin or something…)
c. Now that your list has grown, be sure to do your best to welcome new followers with a Direct Message (Sometime called a DM and not to be confused with a Reply). I just tell them “Thank you for following me. Don’t hesitate to provide any feedback about products or services you would like to see and check out my Facebook page for additional savings.” You might also want to process your followers with some great apps I found that help wade through the spammers. By now you will have people following you that you have not already followed, so go to http://tweetsum.com or another similar app, http://www.tweepular.com.
3. You have now gotten your followers all in line and growing, but you need to provide them with some content. You know, some reason to keep following you. The first thing to remember is that Twitter is not a place to just pimp your products. Yes, in the right doses at the right times, you should promote your products, but if every update you post is “Go to my site and buy my products,” people will stop following you. I normally give someone about a week or two to figure it out before I stop following them. Make it a little entertaining, give some helpful information that maybe you have run across and give them a reason to go to your site or buy your products. Do a Twitter only sale or let them know about a new feature on your site. If you are going to be giving some deals, you might want to check out http://cheaptweet.com. I have not spent a lot of time with this yet, but it is pretty active and a good way to get your products to the masses.
4. Finally you will discover that if you let it, Twitter will take up your whole day. You need some tools to control your content, track what works and also be able to look at it while you are on the go. There is a feature in Twitter that allows your phone to receive text messages of the Tweets (Updates from people you follow), but I suggest you do not use this. It is unreliable and will overload your text messages very quickly. Instead use one of the many cool apps that have been developed for Twitter. Most of them are free and there are new ones daily. Here are three of the main ones I use:
a. For general tracking of all things social networking related, I use an app called Digsby. This app has the look and feel of a regular IM client but also tracks your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and many others. Plus it allows me to log into all the IM names I have and communicate with people from family to friends – all with one cool interface. Plus it will even track your email, both online and POP/IMAP. It automatically upgrades itself and allows you to have as much or as little information flashed up onto the screen.
b. For my Twitter content and messaging, I use an online application called HootSuite. This helps me as I have multiple Twitter accounts, and it allows me to track any links that I Tweet. It also allows scheduling Tweets for a future time and has a very good search function. (Side Note: Others have also recommended a program called http://tweetdeck.com, but I have not used it to date.)
c. Lastly, I just found a great tool for keeping up with Twitter on my Blackberry Bold. It is called TweetGenius. It does cost $4.95USD, but I found it to be way better than the application I was using called TwitterBerry, which is free. I was also given the suggestion to look at UberTwitter. All of those will work for you Blackberry folks like me. There are also a ton of apps for the iPhone and others. (Side note: My suggestion for the iPhone is either Twitterrific or PocketTweets per some friends of mine who use the iPhone.)
Hopefully that gives you a great starting point. I look forward to seeing all of you out in the digital world. Look me up and become my friend or follower if you have not already! Happy Tweeting.
For more information please email Aaron Montgomery.