Twitter is taking over the worldBy now, web-savvy and sophisticated people that you and I are, we’ve all heard – possibly many times over – about just how important social media has become to the success of your business. There are a variety of reasons for this importance, but among them is the concept that social media is how people not only share ideas, it’s also more and more how they reach out to and interact with your brand, and how they will come to identify with the beliefs, ideas and concepts that your brand stands for. (Want an even higher-level view of how the sharing of ideas – i.e., social networking – has become the new generator of wealth? Watch a video at http://threetwelvecreative.com/internet-marketing/idea-economy-wealth-cavemen-cupertino for a presentation that was given at Position Logic.)
Given the importance of social media, this month we’re starting a series of Business Corner articles on social media by taking a look at Twitter, the ubiquitous social media network with the friendly little birdie icon. Twitter is a so-called micro-blogging platform that allows users to “Tweet” messages – which is simply Twitter-slang for publishing a tiny little blog post of 140 characters or less. It also allows you to follow other people, and to see their Tweets. Why should you care? Twitter has over 100 million active users, is growing faster than Facebook, and posts over 250 million Tweets every day. Those are the raw numbers – but below those numbers is the important fact that customers commonly use Twitter to ask questions and to interact in other ways with the brands and companies they’re interested in or doing business with. That human factor is the “social” half of social media, and it is the overarching reason why social media should be given serious attention in any business outreach that you do.
Getting started on Twitter is easily accomplished. Have an email address? Head on over to twitter.com and create an account – it really is that easy. Particularly if you plan on using this account as a brand outreach for your business, you should create this account in the name of your brand and using your brand’s logo as the account profile picture. The name and the logo will let people already familiar with your brand more readily identify you on Twitter, and if your name and logo are strong enough it also gives people currently unfamiliar with your brand a chance to get a handle on who you are and what you do.
Be sure to fill in the other parts of your profile, too. For example, you are given 160 characters to write a brief bio of your company – be clear about what you do, because aside from your actual Tweets your bio is a fine way to inform people looking at your profile both who you are and why they might be interested in following you. There are other settings you should investigate while you’re creating your account, too (picking a theme or otherwise making your profile look nice is pretty important), so don’t hesitate to look around and get everything to your liking.
Once you’ve got your account all set up it’s time to follow some people. Why follow others? Well, you won’t see any Tweets in your stream that are likely to be of interest to you if you haven’t followed anyone, because following is how Twitter populates your stream – it’s all of the Tweets from people you’ve followed. Another reason to follow is so that people know you’re now on Twitter, and since many people will follow you back once they’ve received notice that you’ve followed them, it’s also a great way to build an audience for your own Tweets. Why is that important? Because if no one is following you, you can Tweet all you want to and no one will ever hear you – and ultimately, you want your brand’s voice to be heard, yes?
So how do you start? A good way to start is by following people, companies and brands that you know. For example, you might want to start by following @PositionLogic to keep current with what is happening in our world, and then follow @3TwelveCreative for Tweets that will frequently be of interest to small business owners interested in marketing their business. Now follow all your friends and family members too, if you’d like, and then start searching words or phrases that might be of interest you. For example, you might want to do searches for things like “GPS Tracking” or “Fleet Management” — if any interesting companies or people come up, follow them, too!
You can also search for what are known as hashtags to help you find useful people or companies to follow. If you spend any time at all watching television, you’ve probably already seen hashtags and didn’t know what they were all about. To put it simply – and there’s really nothing complicated about it – hashtags are just words that begin with the # symbol. A hashtag tells users that a Tweet is “about” something… for example, if you search for #GPS, you will get back a list of Tweets that people have tagged with #GPS. Some will be relevant and some won’t, but it gets you in the ballpark at least – and when you discover a hashtag that appears widely used, use can use it yourself in your Tweets when appropriate, making it a powerful tool of discovery.
Armed with this knowledge, what do you do? You are not likely to receive a flood of Tweets right off the bat, so don’t be disappointed. You can pop in periodically to see if anyone has specifically directed a message to you by looking at your “Mentions” tab, and you should also get a notice in your email when it does so that you don’t miss anything. Beyond that, pop in and read the Tweets of people that you’re following. Share your own ideas and statuses via Tweets. Retweet things that you like. Link to content on your website.
Where you go from here is really up to you, but always remember that nothing is automatic – you won’t get anything out of it if you never put anything into it. In the coming weeks we will be posting the video of a coming-soon presentation/training that will be given at Position Logic on Twitter and how to use it effectively, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, if you Tweet to us (just put @PositionLogic in the Tweet) and use the hashtag #newsletter in your Tweet, we’ll be sure to follow you back! What might that Tweet look like? Use your imagination, but here’s a sample: Hey @PositionLogic, I just read the #newsletter!