Why should we bother to tweet and why is Twitter important?

15 November 2010

Knowing that Stephen Fry has still not rejoined the Twitter fraternity given his falling out with Twitter followers I thought I’d focus this week’s musings on why we should  bother to tweet at all. Some of you may be of the opinion that Twittering is only for rock stars or movie stars. There are now a growing number of businesses both large and small that are gaining traction and making money with Twitter. Dell is already claiming to be making $7m USD from its Twitter site.
Having just run a workshop on Twitter today and having all the commonly asked questions buzzing around in my head I thought it would be a good time to share some reasons, advice and feedback for those that have not yet ventured into tweeting,
The basics for set up
My first comment for my delegates was to get a photo loaded as no one wants to converse with an egg shape and to make sure they load a short bio, ideally with a link to your website which could even be your public Linked in profile.
The team were asked to have a go at following each other and also make a tweet and re-tweet something on their page. One of the team inadvertently did a re-tweet in capital letters and I explained the dangers of “shouting online” when this may not be perceived as a friendly gesture when you’re just making your first connections.
There are plenty of resources to help you get started on Twitter including You Tube videos explaining for example how to create a list which is very helpful and can be viewed below.
I also attach some links from Social Media Examiner on great blogs to get the best out of Twitter which you may find of help:
The one key frustration for Twitter users will be the number of times that the site is not available as it is having capacity issues. These issues are not likely to go away with the forecast volume of traffic. Twitter already has 98m users and has had a bit of a growth spurt over the last few months.
Tools to make tweeting easier
Hashtags and lists were explained as a way of making it easier to follow conversations especially if you are using tools like Tweet Chat, Tweet Desk or Hootsuite. Lists act like directories and enable you to manage your followers into groups who are close friends and others who may be based around your study or work. Think of it as the equivalent of creating groups of contacts in Yahoo or Google. Several people have more than one Twitter ID to make it easier to manage their networks.
Old style versus new style Twitter pages
Half the team had the old style Twitter pages on their screens and half had the new style pages which offer a more visually appealing experience as you get to see mini images of each of your followers and those you follow and to see your lists. The new style pages also finds Twitterers who are like you, which works like Linked in where contacts are suggested to you.
Some team members were shocked to discover that they had people who had already invited themselves onto their pages and were keen to know how to block them. However some of them realised that there may have been a reason for having been targeted as they shared similar interests. There are now an increasing number of tools like Blast Follow allowing you to follow a lot of people. However caution is needed to only do one blast at a time so you are not seen to be a spammer.
The law of reciprocity
One of the key ways that you can grow your network is to search for key people using the hashtags and key topics so that you can find people who have the same interests as
yourself and you can expect that around 40% of them will follow you back.
Twitter is not about getting as many followers as you can. The number of followers is meaningless if there is no meaningful communication between you. Sometimes it’s hard to see how the communication flows given the volume of tweets being published so this is where tools like Tweet Chat can help to make sense of them and why some followers tweet the same message up to 4 or 5 times a day. People may only dip into Twitter for 10-20 mins a day so this way their tweet gets better coverage.
OK, so back to why should we bother to tweet
Twitter is important as a very efficient way of doing the following:
-         Promoting attractive time constrained offers (e.g. unsold beds or seats for events). Jet Blue is one of the best examples of showing how their offers often sell out within hours and help to create excitement
-         Providing updates in the event of a crisis. QantasUSA has been making use of their Twitter site to update their passengers on their recent A380 engine problem
-         Sourcing useful tips and information and sharing with others in your network
-         Signposting things which are of help to your network which builds goodwill.
-         Keeping your brand awareness up with your customers without bombarding them with emails and direct mail. 
I wish you all the best with your Tweeting and remember that tweeting is no longer about what you had for breakfast and more about providing things that are of value to the reader that you want to engage with. Tweeting is also converging with all the other social media channels so you can now tweet happily on Facebook and other channels and see your tweets pop up in Linked In. It’s much easier to go “viral” with a tweet like never before to create some real engagement with your fans and followers.
Happy Tweeting!
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