Twitter can seem intimidating: a new online world with its own rules and its own language. But really, it boils down to the art of conversation.

 
 

Ten top tips for tip top tweeting

There’s no end of Twitter advice available online. Some of it is freely available, some you can only access once you’ve handed over your email address, PIN and life savings.

We don’t want your life savings. The truth is, the technicalities of Twitter aren’t difficult to master. Getting to grips with the terminology is another step in the right direction. For us, a team that spends our time safeguarding and enhancing reputations, the right contacts and content are far more important.

So once you’ve got the measure of tweets, Twitpics and Bit.ly, and you know your RTs from your FFs, how do you get the most out of Twitter?

  1. “I don’t have anything to say…” You’d be amazed, once you start thinking about it. What are the hot topics in your industry? What are your views on them? What challenges are your customers facing? What interests you? Who/what inspires you in your industry, in business generally, and in life? What messages are you communicating about your business elsewhere? It’s important that what you say on Twitter complements, and doesn’t detract from, your overall marketing activity. 
  2. Who should I follow? There are more than 500 million Twitter users, but the beauty of Twitter is that you can quickly identify people who are interested in what you’re interested in. Who do you want to engage with? Use the keywords and topics you’ve identified as a starting point, and look for the people who are talking about them. Journalists, bloggers, authors, trade bodies, customers, potential customers…you can search Twitter easily and find conversations that relate to your areas of interest.
  3. It’s just a conversation, after all… How do you usually speak to people? If someone says something that interests you, respond. Open up a dialogue. Retweet their information to your followers.  Respond to questions. And so the conversation begins…
  4. The clue’s in the name… Social networking. It’s not about the hard sell, it’s about being sociable: starting discussions, contributing to conversations, sharing information and advice. Don’t be a Twitter bore – who wants to listen to someone spouting endlessly about themselves?
  5. Be congruent – if you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t say it on Twitter. Whatever you say should align with your company and brand values. You and your business will be judged on what you say and how you say it.
  6. Be polite – if somebody you knew said hello to you in the street, would you respond, or would you ignore them?  If they did you a favour, would you thank them or would you let it pass, unacknowledged? General courtesy applies as much on Twitter as it does in ‘real life’. So respond to messages. And if someone retweets something you’ve said to their followers, let them know you appreciate it. But remember…
  7. Nobody likes a show off - if someone tweets something nice about you, accept it with grace, and thank them. Preferably privately. Don’t feel obliged to retweet it. That’s like walking into a room full of people and shouting “Hey everyone; this person thinks I’m great: here’s what they’ve said about me!” If people are following you, they’re following you for a reason. They don’t need to hear how amazing you are every five minutes and, if you feel you have to keep telling them, the shine will soon wear off.
  8. Don’t be afraid to make life easier – it’s easy to reach tweet overload, and there are plenty of tools available to help you manage Twitter. Building lists will help you to segment your Twitter feed, and there are scheduling systems available that automatically distribute tweets. But beware too many automated tweets. It may feel as though you’re saving time, but ‘robot’ tweets are easy to spot and can detract from genuine engagement.  
  9. To link, or not to link…your social networking feeds? Our view is not to. It might feel as though you’re saving time by automatically connecting your LinkedIn status with your tweets, but if you’re entering into the spirit of Twitter and engaging in genuine conversations, many of your tweets will be replies to people. A string of LinkedIn status updates comprising half a conversation that means nothing to anyone who isn’t involved can be a real turn off.
  10. Monitor, measure, evaluate – investing in genuine engagement can reap significant rewards. But doing it well can also be time consuming, and you need to know that it’s delivering the results you’re looking for. You can easily measure levels of engagement, and there are measurement and analysis tools that can help you track and analyse conversations about your brand.

Twitter can seem intimidating: a new online world with its own rules and its own language. But really, it boils down to the art of conversation. And, as Bob Hoskins told us back in the 90s, ‘it’s good to talk’.

    
 
The Partners Group

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