Twitter tips and tricks for new social inhabitants

Are you a new citizen of the Twitterverse or struggling to get started? There are a few governing ordinances that you need to have in place to truly become native. Twitter is not the new kid on the block, but it is a vital part of the social marketing mix.

Be a real person

The ideal Twitter profile is extremely personable. Just like in the real world, people like talking to people. The follower counts and improved click-through rates tell us so. This also means having your profile as a picture, rather than your business logo. Unless you are already very well known, it is a hard slog to get traction on Twitter while being an ‘anonymous’ brand profile.

If, for whatever reason, your company’s Twitter profile can’t be a person, the next best thing is to appoint individuals as your agents and ensure each one has a mention of the company in their bio or on their Twitter backgrounds. Use initials or symbols to help people identify who is (tweeting). Vodafone Australia presents a great example.

Don’t just visit on weekends. Move in

The most important element for success on Twitter is building deeper relationships. This means you have to have a consistent level of interaction with the network to make it work.  Twitter is probably the most time-intensive social media platform aside from ones where you create the content you share (e.g., blogging). You should aim to do at least three decent stretches of tweets per week. What does “decent” mean? Think of it this way: It is better to jump in and build a richer level of conversation a couple of times a week rather than skimming for five minutes a couple of times a day.

Be targeted

Write down your ideal follower profile type. Be as specific as possible. Then carefully follow people based on that criteria. This ensures that the time you do spend on Twitter interacting is highly targeted and reaching the people you need to connect with. Services like Twellow let you follow people based on the information they have placed in their Twitter bios, such as their job titles or locations.

Extend your content

You should be producing a number of ‘thought leadership’ pieces as a backbone of any good social media strategy. For example, when my firm writes a press release, a new story, a case study or a blog post, we also create 4-6 original tweets based on that content. This approach helps ensures the story is shared.

Set up alerts

To make the experience more effective, you should use a Twitter-like dashboard such as TweetDeck. Among other things, TweetDeck allows you to set up searches on your company, product or keywords in your industry. Every mention on Twitter shows up in your dashboard. This is where Twitter becomes the ultimate customer service channel. For something a little more comprehensive (but still free), also try

Don’t over self-promote

There is one sure way to make yourself an outcast in Twitterville: Only tweet about yourself. I am talking about ‘one-way,’ promotional tweets. Your Twitter residents won’t riot, but they will ignore you. The majority of your tweets should not be about you at all. Rather, they should be ‘@’ conversations aimed directly at people. You could follow an 8/10 format. For every 10 tweets, eight are conversations and interaction, and two can be promoting what you want.

If you are anything like me, traditional networking makes you cringe. When I found Twitter, this all changed. The key here is encouraging people, re-tweeting them, and responding with genuine conversation or help.

Back in 2010, I started Meet a Tweet a Week. I try to meet at least one new Twitter friend in real life, per week. How have you approached Twitter?