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What tips do people have for the use of Twitter?

Fellow practitioners,

 

Keen to get people's thoughts and applications of Twitter that they have found useful in their line of work.  Has anyone had any joy with deploying an internal Twitter platform that keeps the tweets inside the organisation?  Consider simple 140 characters long market based observations from people out in the field or is it a case that microblogging at work is not a social behaviour that fits within the reporting process of sales or other functions and so will not get adopted?

 

To start things off, I shall blatantly take the top 10 tips shared at a UK SLA Meeting recently with the slides available at . 

 

#1 Repeat after me, Twitter is a business tool, Twitter is a business tool, Twitter is a business tool

 

#2 Capitalise on functionality that extends social networking.  It's MICROBLOGGING

 

#3 Consider the primary purpose of your Twitter account: PR/marketing, information services provision, learning/intelligence gathering, social?

 

#4 Cultivate your Twitter account personality according to primary function and identity.  Key to reputation management and winning/keeping followers

 

#5 Tell me the company that you keep and I'll tell you what you are.  Follow strategically and with purpose, because time is short

 

#6 Fit your output to format, taking into account follower attention span and extensive consumption of tweets via mobile devices

 

#7 Shorten, shorten, shorten, short

 

#8 Make your content retrievable, hashtags, incorporation of usernames

 

#9 Timing is everything.  Post your blog entry, decide the shortened URL via http://bit.ly, post the tweet, watch the hits come in

 

#10 Keep it open, power of asymmetrical relationships and legitimate peripheral participation

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Look, I'm no @aplusk, though I have a few observations:

1. That expert who can't get any time in the sensationalist major media may be creating a community around his/her content on Twitter. Find these people and cherish them.

2. Twitter is about deepening relationships. Ironically, the 140 character format only allows for messages between real people and disadvantages press-release platitudes. Meeting people is a good way to gather unfiltered intelligence about things you need to know.

3. Corporations: Using Twitter to "retweet" press releases is like going to a party and only having conversations with people by yelling infomercials at them. IT SOUNDS LOUD, PLASTIC, AND TONE-DEAF. Instead, check out Scott Monty, the head of Social Media for Ford Motor Company, a guy who is a maestro and mixing big marketing messages with actual human interaction.

4. If you want a one-way communication get a blog or a magazine column. Twitter is about conversations, so use your @ replies. You never know who will have a conversation with you!

5. Twitter's search function is the ONLY search on the Internets that will tell you what people are writing up to the last second. This is not a replacement for rigorous market research and analysis, but very often an AWESOME complement, giving you multiple types of information.

6. Hey, why not follow me at @ericgarland. I look forward to the conversation.
Thanks, Eric - a short complement on your first point (showing a quite impressive list of tools to find people):

http://searchengineland.com/how-to-find-people-to-follow-on-twitter...
Great observations guys - I'll share a pair of free tool recommends I've come to rely on with Twitter - the first being Hootsuite which I've been using as my primary Twitter client on both iPhone and Web now for several months (I'm an occasional Tweetdeck iPhone app user and other context specific apps too, most recently Foursquare) and the second is a brand new one for follow management called Buzzom that I've been using for the past few days to find people to follow, follow back, cull non-followers and great bunches of other stuff.

@ArikJohnson
Thank you all for your comments
I'm not sure what Hootsuite can do that Tweetdeck can't, necessarily - when I first started using it, I think it's big unique feature was the ability to manage multiple accounts (my primary personal account gets most of my attention but I also contribute to some shared accounts that multiple people manage together) and maybe the delayed postings (occasionally there's a need to post something later than when you originally compose it for a variety of reasons). I'm sure by now most of the major Twitter clients offer similar (or perhaps better) feature/functionality.

In other words, familiarity and inertia is probably the real reason behind my preference ;-)

As for the follower management issue, though I follow back something like 2700 accounts, only about 100 or so of those aren't reciprocal (e.g., "stars" you might be willing to follow who aren't interested in what you have to say [yet]) and maybe 500 of the 3200 followers of my account I don't follow back (mostly the bots and spammers). But the truth is, I'm pretty interested actually in randomly browsing of that "home feed" of 2700 or so if only for the discovery factor and the occasional surprise that I'll retweet and suddenly I've made a new friend. I glance at it maybe half a dozen times a day and almost always learn about something new and useful I didn't know before and wouldn't have found if I hadn't.

Honestly though, I only really watch about 100 accounts (everyone on this thread is among them by the way) on a private Twitter list called "friendlies" that is on the left-most panel of my Hootsuite UI so that's where I spend most of my time. Twice during the workday encompassing a total of maybe 20 minutes each I'll browse (explore links, reply and retweet) my friendlies list in detail and then get on with my day. Evenings after kids are in bed I'll probably glance at it every couple of hours. It's really taken over what used to be my Inbox obsession, which I don't think is that different for most other Twitter users. Likewise, my Inbox seems to have calmed down quite a bit even as the volume of total messages I swap daily has probably tripled in the past couple of years.

That said, if you really want to reach me, don't send me an email, send a DM or call me directly... I'm looking at my Inbox only twice a day as well and that's mostly just mopping up the detritus or using it as a quick and dirty to-do list of people I need to get back to... eventually. My living conversations are happening on Twitter... and to some extent, LinkedIn and Facebook where my tweets eventually end up, but I'm MUCH less attentive to those accounts... often ignoring them for days on end.

Whether leaving email behind as my primary comms interface is a good thing is debatable, I suppose... but I will say Twitter keeps me connected and engaged with my peers in ways email never did. Maybe that's the measure of utility in social media, then, eh?
Among other things, I find Twitter is a very useful tool for finding "experts" on various topics - if they've taken the time to tweet about a subject, they are, at the very least, passionate about it, and likely very knowledgeable, too. Twitter gives the collector a low-risk opportunity to learn about a topic of interest, and an ability to follow-up with the source.

Twitter can also be used to provide an early warning of customer feedback on both your products/services and those of your competitors. This "real-time" aspect of twitter can alert you to significant changes in the market.
Great Tak! By the way, there's moderate Twitter integration here on the Ning already but I've got a couple of admin emails molding away in my Inbox (that I'll get around to eventually) saying a much deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook is slowly being rolled out. I'm hoping to explore some of that next week once SCIP follow ups are done.

As for leaving email behind... well, I dunno if that'll ever happen entirely. One thing is sure, Twitter is much more like using the telephone (my primary communications technology incidentally... I was on the phone about 7.5 hours today across about a dozen separate conversations) than using email, so it's perhaps a more natural fit for my work style.

Happy Tweeting!
Another tipper. Go follow people who might be your customers if you're a consultant. So many of us concentrate on following our colleagues who do basically the same thing. I do it too, but you'll get more business if you follow customers.

Cheers and thanks for all the sharing!

Ellen

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