Twitter. I love talking about this, seeing what others are doing, and converting new Twitter users.
One of the presentations was "Tweeting Your Way to Success: how to effectively use Twitter to promote your band, bluegrass event, or business." This was my first time leading a Webinar, and it was really fun. The event was sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Association and made available to both members and non-members. Regardless of what your business, I think this information can be helpful and modified to fit your situation. I'm a little late, but I promised to post information here for the attendees.
I like to use one of my favorite quotes, found on Twitter, to begin most of my social media presentations. I think this is a really great description and rule to follow. "Use Facebook to connect with the people you know. Use Twitter to connect with the people you want to know." This was posted by Lauren Gray, VP of Public Relations at PRSSA. Her Twitter handle is @laurenkgray.
There are lots of misconceptions about Twitter. It is seen as something that isn't needed if you are already on Facebook, something that just wastes more time, someplace else for people to tell what they've had for lunch, and someplace else for people to talk about partying. The reality is that it can be most of those things, but Facebook and Twitter move at different paces, have different focuses, different audiences, and different uses. As the quote above says, Facebook is mainly used to connect and reconnect with family, friends, and colleagues.
There are a couple of distinct differences between Facebook and Twitter for those new to Twitter. The first is that "following" and "friending" are not the same. On Facebook, you approve or decline friend requests (for personal pages - not fan pages) and have control over who you are connecting with. You also have options for privacy settings. You can even go further and create groups or categories for your friends and customize privacy based on each group. On Twitter, unless you set your account to "protect tweets," anyone can follow anyone. Protecting your tweets is basically your only privacy setting, and it is like a light switch - private means only those following you can see your tweets and not private means anyone can see your tweets and start a conversation with you. I'm sure there are good reasons for protecting tweets, but for the purpose of collaboration, networking, and sharing information, protecting tweets is counter productive for me. You can also create lists on Twitter to help organize those you are following into groups similar to Facebook. This is especially helpful if you follow a lot of people.
The two applications move at completely different speeds as well. If I don't get a chance to log onto Facebook until the end of the day, you can still scroll down through your news feed and find the first post of the day. There is no way you can do that with Twitter unless you follow only a small number of people. If I let my Twitter feed sit idle for 30 minutes, there may be 300-400 tweets in queue (or more). There is a great video online about the social media revolution, and it talks about the shift in how news is delivered; that we don't have to look for it, it now finds us. This is very true with Twitter. For instance, when we were all on pins and needles waiting to hear if Albert Pujols would stay in St Louis, I had the news on the TV but heard the news of his signing with Anaheim on Twitter before they broke into the news with the same information. This may not seem very significant, but know that you can also hear news of what is happening in an area of turmoil before you hear about it on TV or the radio - and, you're hearing it first-person from someone there.
The follow-back rule: there really is no rule and you'll get many different answers from users. The rule I follow is, I follow back if the person has similar interests, is from my city, is in the same career, or I'm interested in what they have described in their profile. But I do not follow back everyone who follows me. There are scammers and spammers on Twitter, just like everywhere else. My account is set to email me when I get a new follower. I look at that follower's profile and decide if I want to follow back, if they appear to be on Twitter only to sell something, or if the information in their profile is inappropriate. If it is inappropriate, I report them as spam and block them from each of my accounts.
Just like the follow-back rule, you will get a similar number of answers when asking how many people you should follow or how many followers you should have. Here are the rules I follow: I follow people who I am interested in (sports, movies, music, politics, religion) and with whom I have similar interests. Right now, that is about 1700 people, but it is constantly changing. I unfollow people if their tweets don't match the description in their profile or if it is just a sales tool. As far as the number of followers, I go for quality rather than quantity. I would rather have a smaller number of followers and have people who will respond with information and conversation than have 10,000 followers who never engage.
I also use Who.Unfollowed.Me to manage followers and how I follow. I don't use it as a "gotcha" tool and don't post how has unfollowed me or how many followers I've lost or gained. I use it to identify people who are just building their own followers. They will follow me, I'll follow back, and then they immediately unfollow me. That keeps them in my timeline with their sales pitches, but they no longer follow me. This doesn't fit my purpose for Twitter, so when someone does that, I also unfollow them. Twitter is meant to be a community, and you can't be a part of a community and engage with that approach to building followers.
This post could go on and on, or even become a Twitter series, so I'll end with this.
- Test the water
- Don't try to conquer Twitter in a day
- Observe before jumping in
- Avoid controversial statements (unless that will be your mo)
- And remember that every Tweet is archived - what you say here stays here forever