For my Getting Started with Twitter course tonight, I asked some of my tweeps today for advice.
“How do you use Twitter for business, work, fun? Your best advice?” I asked on Twitter (of course). The answers came quickly:
Twitter is a gr8t tool to follow local/natl news/events and stay in touch with like/dislike minded folks on issues.
I use it to be able to connect to the community. It’s an easy way to connect outside of my usual social and political circle.
For business, Dell and others have found success by offering deals to its Twitter followers.
I differentiate between social media. FB for people I know. Twitter for listening to/learning from people I don’t.
I use Twitter for fun and to drive traffic to station websites and hopefully get folks to turn on the radio.
I use Twitter for all of the things mentioned. Social, work, fun. Its helped meeting new people in same fields easier.
I tweeted again in the evening when the class started and got even more advice. I won’t post it here, but I encourage you to read it.
I did a similar exercise in advance of my Kirkwood course, Using Social Media for Business. That time I direct-messaged local tweeps involved in business and asked how they use social media for business. I posted that advice then. I’ve edited it here to cover just their advice on using Twitter or social media generally (I did not verify statements they made about their businesses or their us of social media):
Jen Neumann, partner, de Novo Alternative Marketing, says be consistent:
For your class – this is what I say in EVERY SM class I teach:
“The key is to do it consistently and consistently well.”
Example: Two local businesses started strong but fell off after about a month or two. I really gave up on seeing their specials and as time went on, they faded from my memory too. Tweets from both those places were daily reminders of their existence, as well as their specials.
Also, occasional “inside jokes” etc. from businesses are ok, but keep up the relevance to your audience(s) in order to meet their expectations.
Good examples of restaurants: Victor’s and Zins.
Jen sent me a Social Media Cheat Sheet, which I posted at Slideshare with her permission.
Jon Konchar, FNBC Iowa, says it’s not the quantity of followers/friends/connections that matters, it’s the quality:
I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to have a face (profile) out there for when people, especially younger people, are looking for me personally or a business broker. I use them to check into people I deal with so I assume they also “Google” me and my company. It is hard to quantify though.
It is not the quantity of followers on Twitter, Friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn that is important, it is the QUALITY. Sending out “invites” to your entire address book as suggested by these sites is a good way for them to grow the sites user numbers but it is counter productive to you when keeping up to date with the important friends and contacts you have. The ones you need to focus on get lost in the clutter created and the volume of Tweets, wall posts, and LinkedIn updates.
A wise person once said, think twice before you speak. I think that this applies to social media sites as well (Think twice before you post). Once it is submitted it is out there for all the world to see forever and ever, even if you delete it. Remember someone, somewhere, you do not even know has a copy of it. I think our law enforcement says it best: “Anything you say (post) can and will be used against you…”
Jessica Palmer, Director of Marketing and Research, Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says remember to include links:
From the CRACVB standpoint, my best tip is to include a link. As a marketing professional, I’ve found driving the “follower” to a website or more information is the best way to market the attraction or event we are “tweeting” about. I try not to be too repetitive, and to evenly pace my posts throughout the day if I have multiple “tweets”. I also try to make the 140 characters interesting so they spark curiosity and drive the “follower” to go to the link.
For the ImpactCR account, which several people update, I post a variety of events/activities. Our audience has a variety of interests and we want to empower and engage people on many fronts in the community, including civic, charitable, leadership and social opportunities.
Personally, I use Twitter as a resource for information. I am selective about who I follow, which allows me to filter the info. I receive. I post “tweets” that are both personal (but not too personal!) and professional in nature.
As with any communication tool, it is important to know your audience and be aware of your product and message delivery. Use will vary and is dependent on those key factors.
Anne Wiskerchen, senior public relations specialist at Rockwell Collins Inc., shared some slides on social media use for business, which I have posted on Slideshare with her permission. Some of those tips:
Look at social media as a part of your overall communications strategy versus a new toy.
Recognize two-way communication is the way of the future.
Social media tools are out there and being used by our employees, customers and media – ignoring them really isn’t an option.
Tools are cheap to use and easy to update and modify, but need to be used wisely.
Get away from old measurement tactics and teach others about new values and measurements.
Emily Mulhbach, media relations manager, Mount Mercy College, says timeliness is important on Twitter:
One of the biggest puzzles I’ve dealt with is how to balance a professional Twitter account against a personal one. The bio line on my Twitter account lists me as media relations manager for Mount Mercy College. Does this mean that everything I post should be work related? Should I assume that all new contacts made through Twitter are professional in nature instead of personal? I’ve come across a few instances when the line seemed a bit blurred. Striking a balance is sometimes hard to do, especially when making new connections strictly through Twitter. I am also very aware that what I post on Twitter can reflect on my institution, even if I do not mean it to.
I have only been using Twitter since February, but I’ve also discovered that, like most tools, you get out of it only as much as you put into it. One cannot expect miracles to happen in the social media sphere simply because your organization is using the next mainstream tool. One needs to invest time to organize strategy, a target audience, and a method of communication. You need to dig around to discover the most effective tools, what reaches people and what doesn’t, and how your organization can utilize what is available given the staff’s time and resources.
Everything is also much faster on Twitter. Timeliness was never more important – even posting something half an hour late is sometimes too late.
Christopher Smith, Traditions Real Estate, sent a video that answered some questions asked about Twitter in the September class:
He also provided some advice an email:
I use a website called TweetLister that will post all of my listings on Twitter once every day, so that the information automatically comes up on my Twitter page.
I use Twitter to “network” with two different groups of people. The first group are people from Cedar Rapids, and surrounding areas. The second group is Realtors, either from around this area or nationally.
Twitter allows me to post short but relevant “snippets” of information about the current real estate market so my followers will see that I’m a local business person, and that I am in the job that I’m in to educate people about the current real estate market.
The hardest thing about Twitter is that it does take discipline to say something every day and something that’s relevant.
Twitter is still in its infancy and will continue to evolve and become a huge business tool for those that choose to embrace it.
Eric Ungs, marketing professional, says make contact by direct-message:
I had left a comment on a Marcos Salazar’s post on the personal branding blog (he’s a guest blogger for Dan; author of Renaissance Worker) and he then started to follow me on Twitter. I then checked out his Twitter page and returned the follow. In his bio it stated his current employments and projects. I sent him a DM stating that my wife had just applied for a position for the exact company in which he is employed at (mind you he is located in Brooklyn, NY) and that I look forward to future conversations. We then had a conversation via DMing and he was genuinely curious to see if she had gotten the position. She is still in the interview process, but he asked me to send him my wife’s resume and he’d forward it on to the appropriate people in the Iowa location “putting in a good word”. This is networking at its finest. I have never met him, my wife has never met him. We have only conversed via DM a couple of times.
This shows why social media is so powerful; it creates a number of opportunities and allows you to make connections from all over the country. People helping, caring, advising, sharing and expecting nothing in return is what social media is about.
This concept is how businesses can utilize this type of platform. Reaching out to consumers and caring about what they want and need. Join in on the conversation within your industries topic. The promoting of your business will take care of itself.
Ray Nelson, The Real Estate Book, says be careful with bulk uploads from e-mail contacts:
I have posted two newbie posts on my blog at www.EastIowaTREB.com. I posted those as I was getting started.
My focus has been business-related and in the real estate market. I have had limited success with Twitter and much better with Facebook. LinkedIn has been OK but no real interaction.
Biggest piece of advice for anyone is chat/update/post what you are interested in. No one cares how long you spent in the bathroom but they might care about how long you spent in the ER with your kid. I guess that boils down to give value with your communication. Whether personal or business each chat/update/post needs value or you will get ignored/unfollowed/unfriended (is unfriended even a word?).
That being said follow/friend local experts (that’s how I started following you), news sources, restaurants and find out who they follow. There is a lot of really good info available from local sources. Don’t not unfollow/unfriend someone just because you don’t agree with their point of view. You can learn a lot by looking at what they think or what they are using for facts (after all yours can be wrong or right).
From a business standpoint be careful who you follow/friend/fan etc. For example if you follow a lot of adult content it can be detrimental to your business unless you are in the adult entertainment industry. I have a friend in the real estate industry who posted her “Who I follow rules” (her social media is all about work).
Last, everything you say is kept forever. Don’t say or do or talk about anything you would be afraid to have your mother/pastor/kids find out about or read. I don’t mean don’t have an opinion or say anything controversial just do so with thought.
Some people to follow/friend:
- state and local politicians (most are using some kind of social media)
- local TV stations
- local newspapers
- local radio stations
- favorite anchors/hosts
- TV/news for places you are interested in
- national TV/news sources
- local organizations you are interested in or a member of
Dr. Lisa Van Allen says start with the result in mind:
Here are a few tips for your class:
1) Start with the end result in mind. That means considering what you want out of social media and how you want to be perceived.
2) Connect, connect, connect!! It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. If all you do is market, people will begin to ignore your message.
3) Business owners need to set up analytics to measure their ROI (investment of time – which is money!) from the beginning.
Katie Kaalberg, Second Story Promotions, posts fliers on Twitpic:
One thing we have started using Twitter for lately is posting our fliers via Twitpic. This is great and people seem to retweet them a lot and I like it better than posting a link to back to our website. We also get great new product ideas from Twitter. We simply tweet what type of product we are looking for (for example new items for dentists to personalize) and we get great response from suppliers who are following us. So Twitter is not just a selling tool for us but it is also a great resource for us to get in touch with our vendors/suppliers.
Bill Montgomery, salesman for Copyworks in Coralville, worries about mixing personal and business matters on social media:
Actually, you could use me as an example as I am new to this world myself. I know this has shaped my perceptions and I think it reflects my limited use of the different forums.
I am really interested in using sites such as Twitter and Facebook for business purposes vs. personal use. I am not comfortable putting a lot of “me” out on the web. This is my biggest concern with Facebook – I have learned way more than I care to about some of my friends and acquantences. As such, I am confused on how to use it for business purposes. It seems facebook is mostly a social site I get the feeling that business posts are almost not wanted.
I like Twitter and have been getting a feel on how to use it: how often, topics, and such. My thoughts so far:
Twitter, too, has a lot of personal posting – more business, but still a lot of personal posting.
I am bothered by the use of multiple tweets: where one person sends several (10 or 12) tweets in a row). Especially when they are unrelated; e.g. quotes, musings, and maybe the one or two useful tweet such as a link to an informational blog or article. I don’t mind the consecutive tweets that are used to inform or update some event. I understand this is more the limitation of 140 characters than anything else. If a poster has a paragraph to write, several tweets my be necessary to convery the information.
Here, my only issue is at times I feel like I’m entering in the middle of a conversation. I have to dig back to find the source and then work forward. This isn’t that big an issue, just something I have to be aware of.
This also relates to another minor problem with Twitter – the shorthand that is used by some posters. Some folks are very creative, but the message is confused. This also reflects my age: the younger generations seem to have the shorthand down – I prefer complete sentences.
I have found some good information on Twitter. The tweets that contain links to blogs or articles relevant to the topic are very helpful. I can pursue these at my own pace.
As I gain more experience and familiarity I intend to post more. Right now am comfortable watching and learning.
Stephanie Catlett, New Pioneer Food Co-Op, says consultant provided helpful tips:
We’ve had a lot of success with our social networking project thus far. Due to our own lack of expertise, we hired an outside consultant to get us set up on Facebook and Twitter, and provide us and our staff with training and guidance.
Tips/Experiences/Frustrations/Successes: Our consultant was invaluable in providing tips for what is appropriate content for a business to provide on a social networking site. At first, we all felt that posting sale prices or great deals would be the best thing to do, but he definitely recommended that hold off on this kind of promotional material, as our “friends” might consider it spam and be annoyed by it. He did recommend posting information on food politics and news, recipes, gardening tips, “green” news, and any new or interesting products that were available in the stores without prices. Anything that would establish us as “thought leaders” or experts in our field. We feel this was invaluable advice and so far we have had very postive comments on our posts.
Just today we had a success story when a tweet that I posted yesterday about the new mural on the Iowa City store was viewed by KCRG news, so they came down and did a story about it. Success!
We are currently fully managing our own online sites. We’ve opened up posting to any staff members who are interested in doing so. Five members of the marketing team each take one day per week to post (we try to do three posts per day).
Tami Garvin, Public Relations Director, Marketing and Communication Strategies Inc., says the funnel of social media makes the ocean of information a manageable stream:
I’m a complete news junky. I used to have scrollers and crawlers and alerts and breaking newses, streaming NPR and BBC and CNN, notifications, newsfeeds etc., etc., etc. I have a separate computer on my desk just for the pinging and streaming and crawling. It’s great for my business because I have clients in many industries and fields and to be able to advise and direct them, I need to know what’s going on.
With social media it all comes to me as if through a funnel, making the ocean into a manageable stream. It’s really fast, it’s diversified, it’s customized for me; it allows me to be a complete news hoarder without the clutter. Delightful.
I love it so much. I heart social media! Yes, that’s bad because I have other things I need to do, like write, go to meetings…sleep.
Also bad: Naked people. Every so often I post this on Twitter and Facebook:
Naked people: I’m delighted you have new pics posted, but please don’t follow me. You will find my posts boring; I will find yours the same.
(The naked people are seemingly not deterred. I guess it’s valuable to be intrepidly bold if you’re going to be publicly naked.)
Foul spammers and vile astroturfing. These shenanigans are thus far not well tolerated. But I’m afraid with their relentless craftiness and snakeoilery, they will wear down and/or overcome the naturally-occurring, rather organic shunning they currently receive and, it seems to me, deserve.
I don’t find these tactics respectful of (let alone effective with), well, people. Marketers and other opportunists have got to keep up with the savvy of people. Otherwise it’s not very “social” of them.
Stacey Hasz, yellowbook, says create a sense of community:
We are currently using Twitter to advertise new job opportunities, updates on my video blog, current events, etc. Same situation for Facebook. Our purpose for those is to create a sense of “community”, so when candidates come in for an interview, they know what to expect and already have a feeling for our company culture. For LinkedIn, I use it to recruit passive candidates for high level positions.
John Schnipkoweit, CTO at Ovation Networks Inc., says don’t try to read 100 percent of social media stream:
The most overwhelming part is the amount of information you will get – and adjusting to that. I find myself always looking to find a balance for the amount of time spent on each, looking to see 50 percent to 80 percent of the information posted and living with the fact that its impossible to see 100 percent. Using third-party tools to consolidate, sort, and search all that information helps, but often they lack some functionality, and ultimately depend on personal preference/ functionality needed.
Twitter is a unique animal, in the sense that devoting just a little bit of time to it will potentially connect you with so many new people. While Twitter is a great way to start a connection, it’s not built to further or really even maintain one.
One great experience I had with Twitter was last winter, when I tweeted my frustration with attracting young, talented professionals to CR. I expected advice from others who had been part of the situation before, which I did get, but Priority One contacted me with assistance as well. That DM led to a meeting and with the help of some Priority One marketing collateral, we were able to persuade a candidate to pick our company in CR vs. Google in Mountain View, CA. Not only was this great for my company, but I think it shows how Twitter is a great broadcast connector which can lead to further communication such as email, telephone, or face to face.