Tweets in 10 (Part 1) – Twitter in 10 Minutes a Day
Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 29, 2010 in: Twitter Tips & Tools
There’s no business like Web 2.0 business, and the newest virtual buzzword that is invading the physical world is Twitter (also known as “tweeting”).
What is Twitter?
President Obama and Oprah use it, and local television news anchors are soliciting viewers to follow them for bragging rights about how many followers they have.
Veteran business people know that the path to success is accomplished through people connections.
In the 1980’s, the desktop Rolodex, a telephone and the first phases of basic e-mail were the conventional ways of maintaining contact with necessary constituents. Software soon made the Rolodex obsolete with the V-card, and Twitter’s micro-blogging service could replace e-mail for simple notifications.
Today, social media has allowed executives to meet people globally without limitations. Executives no longer have to “pound the pavement” to make sales calls — they just have to “pound their keyboards.”
Twitter has taken the ability to network in the virtual world to a whole new level, something like LinkedIn on steroids.
There is no social networking service in existence that has the reach and the immediacy provided by Twitter’s highly advanced search function. There isn’t a search engine in existence that provides Twitter’s real-time updates for any world event or the latest thoughts on any topic.
Setting up an account and beginning to “tweet” (writing posts limited to just 140 characters) is very simple, but there is a lingo that needs to be learned along with preliminary tips.
The No. 1 excuse from hesitant Twitter users is: “I don’t have the time.” This blog series is going to show you how to devise a program that can keep business networking current through Twitter in only 10 minutes a day.
Let’s get started!
Here are three basic things you have to do to get started so that you can use my Twitter in Ten techniques.
1. Sign Up for Twitter. It is very important to pick your Twitter name carefully. While you can change it at anytime without having to open a new account, my concern is three fold:
a. As Twitter gets more popular screen names are going to be harder to get (think about.com, .net etc.)
b. You want it to be memorable enough so that people don’t have to look up your name in order to ‘tweet’ you.
c. Because of Twitter’s high profile, their pages rank high with search engines and thus if you pick a brand name (like your company) or your name it is more likely that you will get traffic from the web then picking something random like I_Love_Justin_Bieber.
2. Import your address book from services such as Gmail, Hotmail and others (this list is constantly evolving) and see if any of your colleagues use Twitter.
3. Get a Twitter Client. A Twitter client is software that helps you Tweet. There are several available on the web. Wikipedia has list of the most reliable ones. I use TweetDeck on my PC and Twitter for Blackberry on my Blackberry and HootSuite for my team. These programs will help you stay organized and use Twitter in a more effective fashion as you get used to it and get more comfortable with it.
4. Register yourself on Twellow.com (Twitter Yellow Pages) and others like it. If you have purchased my master kit, there is a resource included with a list of Twitter directories such as Twellow. Check it out. Also, check out my article on Twitter Directories titled Gathering the RIGHT Followers for other good ones.
Now that we’ve looked at what you need to tweet successfully, let’s look at some of the lingo you should know.
- “RT” stands for ReTweet. This is how people forward posts they see from someone on Twitter to their own network of friends. For example, if you want to pass on to your friends something I wrote, you could Twitter: RT @MyTwitterName — what I wrote.
ReTweeting is like a reward. When someone retweets what you have said, that is them advertising you to their whole Twitter stream. Therefore it is very important not to retweet everything that you see, but only things that you really want to share with your followers.
Keeping that in mind: You want to make it easy for people to retweet you. To do that, always leave a bit of space in your tweet so people can retweet you. In other words, don’t use the whole 140 characters, use about 125 or so – so that people have space to put RT @YourTwitterName: to retweet what you have said.
Also keep in mind that Twitter is steadily changing their rules, and the software used is rushing to keep up. One of the new rules (at the time of this blog post) is that people will only see RT if they are following the person you are retweeting because Twitter’s software recognizes the ‘RT’ command. People are getting around it by placing a ‘.’ Before the RT. So, if you want to make sure your WHOLE Twitter community sees a retweet you should write .RT @TwitterName. If you just write RT @TwitterName, only people following you will see it.
- “#” is the sign for “hashtag.” It’s a way for users to categorize their posts for others to view. For example, if I’m at a trade show like South by Southwest (SXSW), I’ll put the “#SXSW” hashtag at the end of all my posts for users who are monitoring Twitter for the latest SXSW news. The hashtag is a signal that something is searchable in third-party Twitter tools like TweetDeck or TWhirl. Click on the hashtagged phrase and it opens a browser using the search.twitter.com tool to search the hashed phrase. There are hashtag directories and several creative ways to use a hashtag in your business to help promote your businesses, products and brand. Check out my article titled Hashtag like a Pro for a comprehensive Hashtag tutorial.
- Managing Web Links: Twitter posts are so brief (limited to 140 characters), conventional website addresses don’t fit. People can use link shorteners like TinyURL and Bit.ly to abbreviate links. You’ll read later that sharing links is a great way to increase your followers and engage them. Using these shortners lets you track click statistics. Depending on the service, it tracks in different ways. I like bit.ly the best. Test it out by creating an account before shortening any links (it is free) and you will be able to track every link you ever shorten and its statistics. Likewise, bit.ly offers an API integration that lets you link its service with TweetDeck, WordPress, and more, so that it automatically shortens its links for you. Some web services, such as Hootsuite, automatically shorten links with their own shortner service (Hootsuite uses www.ow.ly)
What to do now that you are on Twitter
Some people will tell you that Twitter is all about engaging people; but let’s be honest, the end goal is to have people paying attention to you. Sure, some people use Twitter to chat with friends and family but that is not the only reason to use it. Typically you want to connect with others, networking in a virtual fashion, telling your audience about your life or your business. The question is: Are they listening?
You can talk all day long. I remember seminars in college where a professor would talk for three hours but half of us were not listening. As a matter of fact, I began to take seminars early in the morning just so I could sleep through them (sorry Dr. Higgins!). So, your audience has to pay attention to you. That is where the engagement comes in. If you engage with your audience they will pay attention. Again, using the college example, a roundtable discussion was far more engaging and proactive than any seminar in a dark room with 300 people in a theater-like seating.
Not to overload you with anecdotes, but let’s talk about the Naked Cowboy for a second. For those of you that don’t know – you have obviously never been to Times Square in New York City. In Times Square there are a gazillion musicians’ playing for quarters, but only one has been consistently there for 2 decades. He has made his living being the ‘naked cowboy’. He strolls around Times Square in his underwear, cowboy hat and guitar and plays his music. So – what the heck does this have to do with Twitter, you ask? Think of Twitter as Times Square, think of yourself as a musician playing in Times Square. What’s your sale pitch? Are you sitting in a corner with your guitar or are you drawing the attention of the audience like the Naked Cowboy? The Naked Cowboy ENGAGES in Times Square, he draws the attention by his costume. On Twitter (your Times Square) you need to draw your audience’s attention with your own version of engagement: communication, reciprocity and paying attention.
When I tell my clients or colleagues the importance of engagement, they say: “Okay, but I don’t have time to do all this chatting over on Twitter”. I will show you how to steadily gain an audience that is paying attention… while only taking ten minutes of your day.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that you should only spend 10 minutes a day on Twitter. In fact, I strongly suggest that you incorporate Twitter into your daily work, just as you would your email or voicemail. However, the purpose of this is to help those that are either new to Twitter or who find it overwhelming or just don’t know what to do. If you get small doses at a time, you will be effective in the long run. Obviously spending more time on Twitter will produce more results (which is why so many people outsource some of their Twitter work to assistants!)
Now you are ready to begin!
Steps you can take to implement Twitter in ten minutes a day:
1. Start finding people to tweet with. (Hopefully you have already imported your address book from services like Gmail to see if any of your colleagues use Twitter.) Then find strangers! I like Twellow.com; it is like Yellow Pages for Twitter. Look for people in your industry; look for people in your general “atmosphere”. For example, I work in the Virtual Industry providing coaching, consulting, and third party virtual administration services. So I could go to Twellow, look under Management, then Consultants and there are over 22,000 people on Twitter in that category. Whoa! Don’t add all 22,000 but look at 10 profiles a day and if they seem interesting… follow them.
You can also follow other people’s followers, so for example if you follow Jen your best friend, look at her follower count of people she is following and that are following her and see if any of them are of interest to you.
2. Check your Twitter account like you do your email.
a. Go to your Direct Messages Section and see if anyone has sent you direct messages (private tweets). Don’t get overwhelmed. There are a lot of autobots out there that “auto-message” you when you follow them. You can ignore those if you want. See if anyone messaged you directly and if it seems personal (i.e., they used your name or said something about your profile), message them back and say thanks for paying attention or another relevant comment to their message!
b. Go to your replies (@yourtwittername) and see who has messaged you (public tweets). Reply to them. If they say good morning, say good morning back! Make sure you reply, they are engaging you!
c. Check to see who is retweeting you or talking about you. When people are talking to you they will say “@YourTwitterName Good Morning, how was your day yesterday?” When people are talking about you they would say something like “I really like @YourTwitterName’s tweets, she is so friendly.” When people are retweeting you they would say RT @YourTwitterName: whatever your original tweet was that they recopied. If someone is talking about you, engage/participate in the conversation by responding to them or other members discussing you. When someone re-tweets something you say, thank them. (This is a must and a requirement!).
3. Pay attention to 3 people. That is right, pick 3 people that you are “following” and pay attention to something they said by responding to them and by commenting on their tweets.
4. Pick 2-3 things that you find interesting and re-tweet them. This could be an article that someone posted, a quote, or a joke. Retweet what they have said. Retweet by writing RT @their twitter name: their original tweet.
5. Tweet one thing about yourself, your business or your day to the Twitter world. Examples would be: “I am up bright and early today and feeling great” or “I have a cold today, staying home from work” or “Going to work on Project X for My Coaching Practice today”.
6. Tweet one resource and feel free to have it be self promotional. A blog you posted, an article that was recently published about you, an article that you recently distributed, a press release or video you recently released. Tweet it with an appropriate title or description.
Then sign off! You should have done that in less than 10 minutes (of course people with high volume replies and direct messages may take longer, but once you get that large of a volume you don’t need to reply to every single one. And if you are at that large of a volume, you may find that Twitter is worth more than 10 minutes a day!)
As you begin to follow more and more people, Twitter can get unruly and hard to manage. That is where Twitter Lists come in. Twitter lists are ways that you can segment people on Twitter and filter through tweets. There are four things to remember about Twitter Lists:
1. You can only own 20 Twitter lists, you can follow as many as you want but you can only create and own 20 lists.
2. Each list has a limit of 500 people that can be on it.
3. Lists are public unless you mark them as private, which means that if you want to list your clients – my suggestion is keep it private unless you want a competitor tracking them down!
4. The earlier you start on Twitter lists the better. It is much easier to categorize and list people as you follow them than trying to categorize 5,000 people at once. Trust me, I am doing the latter, since lists were created well after I began using Twitter.
Here are some great YouTube videos on Twitter Lists – how they work and how to manage them:
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