February 16, 2011

With the rapid adoption of Facebook and Twitter, a social media strategy has rapidly become a core element in any online marketing strategy.

As a result, one of the things we get asked to do more and more at Mogul is train our clients in the use of social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.

Most of us have a pretty good grasp on Facebook and we’ve been using it for years, but Twitter is still a strange beast for many people.

I actually prefer Twitter to Facebook, for the following reasons:

  • It restricts you to using 140 characters in your updates, which suits my naturally laconic style
  • There isn’t the sense of Big Brother-style creepiness which pervades Facebook
  • There are no photos of weddings, babies and pets

The problem for a lot of people is that the first time you use Twitter or casually browse the Twitter site, it makes almost no sense at all. There is just a never-ending stream of seemingly random chunks of gobbledigook.

But with some basic training,  the right strategy, and the right tools, Twitter can be a very powerful way to stay connected, gather news and information, and keep your friends and customers informed of what you’re up to.

  • Twitter is very versatile, so nut out a strategy (with our help) for what you actually want to achieve with your Twitter account. Is it going to be a customer support channel? A promotional tool? A research tool? A business development tool?
  • From here, you can figure out if you want an account for you personally – or set it up for your business. i.e. is it your personal account or your company’s account? And if it’s your company’s account, is it for sales, customer support, or something else?
  • Set up your Twitter account
  • Give it a cool name (or ‘handle’) – preferably one that is easy to pronounce
  • Put in a description that gives potential followers an idea of what to expect if they follow you
  • Upload a cool photo or logo

If your Twitter account is for growing your business or personal network, start by following as many interesting people as you can. Look for people in your own industry or area of expertise to start with.

It’s also really useful to follow lists.  A good list to follow is this one (as a TV chef would say, ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’): http://twitter.com/MogulWebsites/nznews. This is a compilation I’ve made of Twitter feeds from a whole lot of New Zealand news websites (I’m a bit of news junkie). With this list, I’m always up-to-date with breaking news.

The most important part of Twitter is getting followers. If you don’t have followers, no-one’s going to read your tweets.

There is a quick and dirty way to get followers: go through really good lists of people who you think would benefit from your tweets, and follow them. More often than not, they’ll follow you back, especially if you’ve got a great description, and you’re starting to put out some great content.

And this leads us to content. ‘Where do I get content from?’, you may ask. My rather simplistic answer is ‘Just start tweeting and you’ll figure it out’. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s hard to get writer’s block when you only need to write 140 characters. You might be thinking ‘What should I write about? No-one wants to know what I had for breakfast.’ And you’d be right. No-one finds that stuff interesting.

The keys to putting out great Twitter content are monitoring, retweeting, replying, using saved searches, lists and #hashtags.

In my next article, I’ll discuss these in more detail, and point you in the direction of some cool tools that make Twitter much easier to manage and read.