* Author's note: Ten minutes was my estimate as to how long it will take to read this article....You might even give better tweet in LESS time if you're a speedy reader! Exciting!
Twitter is an awesome and powerful "tool" in your entrepreneurial tool belt, and unless you've been living under a rock or on a self-imposed break from the information world for the past five or so years, you know this. On nearly a daily basis I get a large majority of my information (breaking news, trends, scoop on what competition is doing, scoop on what my media contacts are up to, and more) via Twitter. I form relationships about 3x faster with key media targets there, and the community itself is a powerful place to create and grow relationships with contacts whether they be in the media, potential co-branding partners, others in your field, stylists, celebrities - you name it! Twitter broke down the physical and metaphorical walls that separated a lot of us and the space has become a powerful place for even the "littlest guy" to grow his or her brand.
That said, you'd think that when some people are asked to tweet you were asking them what they want engraved on their tombstone! The overthinking and "analysis paralysis" that goes on is astounding. They worry so much about HOW to use Twitter in order to make the right impact that they don't use Twitter at all, meaning they make NO impact.
I know some of you reading this know the power of Twitter, but for those of you who may need a friendly nudge over to the Twitter-stream and inspiration to dip your electronic toe in it, I give you some easy ways to instantly get better at Twitter! Even better, they are based on social skills you already have (here's hoping) and use regulalry at social gatherings. That means that if you can make friends, you can make followers, so let's get down to business!
PRETEND YOU ARE AT A PARTY, HOW WOULD YOU CONVERSE WITH PEOPLE ?
Remember that Twitter is a conversation, just one that you're having online. If I went to a party and kept saying "Hi I'm Sabina I'm from Tin Shingle come look at my website" or "Let me tell you more about ME" I can promise you my broken record routine and self-centered talk about what I am up to would get old. People would get bored with me and my conversation. Sure people want to know what I'm up to but they want more. They want to have conversations, have you contribute useful and interesting facts, anecdotes, replies to their comments, support for their statements and more. If you use social media spaces to have a one-sided conversation you're going to be as popular as a party guest who only has one-sided conversations...which is not very.
SO, BE A GOOD PARTY GUEST & ASK QUESTIONS, CONVERSE WELL....
This means that when you are on Twitter you should do one of the most powerful things you can do on Facebook & Twitter in terms of engaging your current and potential followers - ask them questions! What a great way to generate discussions amongst your followers and get to know them a little better. Now, this doesn't mean ask them what they had for dinner necessarily (unless this has to do with your brand) but try to keep questions within the framework of what you as an expert or you as a company/brand do....
For instance, if you're a DJ, you may ask them what their favorite music to unwind on the weekend is, or what their all time favorite album is. If you're a chef you may want to ask if anyone knows what the origin of a certain dish is, or what seasonal vegetables they are including in their dishes lately. At Tin Shingle, we ask our members and social media followers questions about how they work, what they are working on, business programs they use on their computers, how they stay organized....etc....etc...We ask them questions nearly daily and we get responses nearly as much. People like to share, and we like to hear! That is how a social media conversation is succesful!
So what if they don't respond, you ask? SO WHAT? Not every question gets a response, that doesn't mean you stop asking! The system of asking questions on Facebook & Twitter is a proven way to engage your followers, and doesn't take too much time once you get the swing of it! Still not sold? When you are going to gatherings/parties/events this coming weekend or any engaging in any conversation with a friend or loved one this weekend try not asking them any questions. Try just talking about yourself and see how far you get without feeling awkward. It's just as useless to have one-sided conversations in the social media world. After all - the key word is SOCIAL - so be social!
You know how people love to whip out their phones and share pictures of their babies, friends, dogs, cool things they spotted when out and about, etc. when they are at parties? People love to look at images when they are on social media! Again, it's important that you try to keep these images within the framework of what you are trying to accomplish. If it's a personal Twitter and you're just trying to grow your own popularity/expert status/personal brand, sure it may be appropriate to share a photo of your shoes/dinner/view/dog/funny face. If you are a designer maybe you want to share a photo of your jewelry making process or a new piece that you are revealing for the first time on Twitter.
I'm a firm believer that people are more engaged and loyal to brands that they feel connected to, and pictures are a great way to reveal a more personal side of your brand or yourself! A picture really can speak a thousand words! They are also just more interesting!
There are several places & programs you can upload photos to Twitter with, I personally use TwitPic OR at times I make it even easier by housing UberTwitter on my blackberry and immediately uploading photos after I take them on my cell phone if I think are a good match for my feed. You can also set up a system that allows you to email photos to your Facebook fan page as well, using the subject line as the heading. These make your feeds interesting and are proven to generate FIFTY PERCENT MORE IMPRESSIONS than posts without photos! Once again, as with party etiquette guidelines, don't over-do it and don't share things you suspect your followers would have no interest in.... It's one thing to share a few photos of your tradeshow, it's another thing to post 50 play-by-play images of the set up that will simply clog your followers feeds. Be picky and discerning the same way you would be when you were showing a friend your photos.
Finally, remember that once something is posted online it's ONLINE FOREVER. Even if you delete a tweet or pic from your Twitter feed it's most likely floating out there somewhere in the Internet Universe, and in the blink of an eye a Tweet can be retweeted, re-posted and seen by thousands, so be careful and controlled when posting - especially if you are posting for your brand!
Use People's Names (Twitter Handles) when Talking (Nicely) about Them! People love hearing their names, they just do! They like hearing nice things about themselves as welll! The same rule applies on Twitter. A great way to connect quickly with the media/with potential partners/friends/interview subjects/celebrities is by making a statement on Twitter about them (a positive one of course) and using their Twitter handle in the process.
I'm super excited about this week's upcoming @FreerangeReads event featuring stories about Peace & War Stories.
As you can see from the two statements above - I was not writing directly to either of those Twitter addrsses but if those statements were on Twitter, the people whose Twitter handles I posted would immediately see me writing about them. This allows me to slowly connect with them (if we don't know each other), show them I know, acknowledge and like what they are up to, and may even result in a reply or re-tweet! And THAT is often the start of a beautiful Twitter (and offline) relationship....
I encourage you to think about these party and Twitter tips this weekend and into the next week. If you're a Twitter newbie try incorporating the concepts into your Tweets in the future, if you're an old pro, make sure you're applying them as well! Heck if you're at a party be sure you're following the same rules - I bet you'll find new friends on and offline!