Twitter ye not – unless you are regular

22 03 2013

The late Frankie Howerd loved a double entendre or two and were he alive today he would probably be utilising Twitter to showcase his inimitable brand of humour – as most celebrities now do. Take Justin Bieber for example. Apparently he has more followers than the entire population of Canada and followers spend time arguing amongst themselves as to who deserves his attention and favours.

This is the strength of Twitter – Joe public get unrivalled access to the everyday thoughts of their chosen idol (or at least their idol’s PR company) sometimes on a daily basis. Followers may even get a response direct from their idol and suddenly their idol knows they exist and their world seems a brighter place. In the case of Greg ‘Cooking doesn’t get tougher than this’ Masterchef Wallace followers have even gone on to marry their idol (although communicating in 140 characters doesn’t always translate to communicating well over the breakfast table.)

But how does this all work for businesses? It’s ok if you are sexy like Justin Bieber or as hilarious as a comedian, but what if your business is – well rather on the dry side? Presumably your business at least has a Twitter account by now and some followers, but maybe you haven’t got as many as you would like. If not here are a bundle of tips to help grow your loyal groupies and superfans.

  1. Tweet regularly – the optimum number of Tweets is apparently around 15 a day for a company – this is a lot but surely your business has enough news to find something of interest if not about yourselves then the sector you operate in. If not fifteen times at least everyone day – get to a certain critical mass and followers will hopefully start to grow by themselves. Don’t have time to tweet? Then find someone in your company who can – just make sure you brief them well and that they have access to the news and interesting facts about your company – or pay an agency to do it for you. Use Tweetdeck to upload your tweets in the morning or for the week, schedule them in and then off they go. 
  2. Find interesting content and retweet using Google alerts. Enter the topic of interest eg NHS UK and Google will deliver news stories and features direct to your email inbox. Follow the link to the article and nine times out of ten there will be a tweet button next to it that will allow you to post the article direct to your twitter account, or a link that you can use to schedule in Tweetdeck. Keep your followers fed with interesting content and hopefully they will comment and retweet you.
  3. Engage with your followers – answer their queries, pose them interesting questions – talk direct to them using direct messages or their names in tweets using @ and their twitter name.
  4. Follow like-minded people/organisations – usually they will follow back. When you have a group of them you can host a debate about a topic they are interested in. This is sometimes called a Twitter party or a tweetchat depending on your type of business. Publicise the chat at a certain time then use the hashtag followed by your company initials or topic so people can easily identify the thread. Then have experts from your business or sector make contributions and answer questions.
  5. Publicise your Twitter address everywhere. Have a Twitter button on the homepage of your website, add it to your email footer, put it on your stationery. Mention it on your other social networking sites, newsletters etc.
  6. If your company holds events then why not have a live Twitter feed? Encourage your attendees to Tweet throughout the day using a bespoke event hashtag and display their tweets on a large screen as they happen. Ask conference speakers to tweet contributions.
  7. Tweet photos and link to videos from your Youtube account and encourage your customers to tweet feedback/pictures, perhaps using a competition to encourage them.
  8. Look at trending topics relevant to your business and make comments. Use the hashtag plus keyword so your comments appear in searches.
  9. Don’t ignore negative feedback – respond professionally as you would to any other complaint and depending on the complaint, offer to follow it up away from the twittersphere using your companies standard complaints procedure. Twitter is a great way of gauging customer satisfaction as people tend to ‘tell it like it is’ online, but you also need to nip complaints in the bud.
  10. Keep up-to-date with new ways of using Twitter. If you have a professional profile on LinkedIn there are a number of groups on social media where you can share tips and ideas for growing your following.

Above all have fun with Twitter, reflect your mission and personality of your business and see it as a way to talk and engage about your favourite topic – your business.


Blogging – baby steps

6 07 2012

So it’s time to do my second post. In the meantime I’ve fiddled about with WordPress and updated my about page and changed the picture at the top using the template. This was all very easy and much more attractive than the blogs I was creating with Blogger! To be fair on Blogger I think they have now updated their templates since I was first using it a couple of years ago but I’m annoyed that it now appears that the only browser I can use it with is Google Crome. With WordPress my blog actually looks like a basic website and no HTML knowledge needed! I even had someone read and follow my blog on the first day. So thank you ‘callmemarlon’!

Not sure how many blog updates I should do, but I’ve settled for three a week which seems realistic and about 500 – 700 words which shouldn’t be too long. I’m going to cover a range of topics depending on what I’ve been up to at work and at play during my week. I will be looking for some links and some photos to share so that the blog posts will hopefully be of use to someone interested in the topic. The WordPress dashboard gives me lots of options to post videos, quotes and links so it should be straightforward. I’m slightly worried about the issues of copyright, but I’m guessing, like Pinterest, if you name the source –  that will cover it and increase the search engine visibility for the person concerned.

Adding content from other sources does make the blog sound like it will need a bit of research along the way, whereas at the moment I’m just writing down my thoughts. The other area for consideration is the audience. Where will I find them? I have my personal Twitter feed to which I tried and failed to link the first post and now I’m going to try again for the second. My personal Twitter has already changed focus from personal interests (eg spiritual pursuits) to more of a work focus. I guess there is no law to say I can’t combine the two, but I’m aiming for a professional audience first. I found that using these tools can be quite organic in the way that they develop, but for professionals it’s probably better to have all these ideas sorted out before you begin…

So to recap here are some questions that would be bloggers should ask themselves before they begin, based on what I’ve learnt so far:

Questions for would be bloggers

  • Who is the audience for your blog
  • What is the focus of the blog?
  • Do you have a wide list of topics around that theme that you can write about?
  • How will you get your ideas for future posts?
  • Why would people want to read it – what value will they gain from it?
  • How often can you – realistically – post updates? (Hint: think daily and weekly not monthly)
  • What is your ‘brand’ eg the image you want blog to convey in terms of design, personality and content?
  • How will you publicise your blog? ( eg Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc)
  • How will you make money from your blog?

The last point will probably be your ultimate goal if you are approaching your blog from a business point of view (although there is nothing wrong with writing for the fun of it if it is on a subject you enjoy). Ultimately I would like to benefit in some way from writing it, but I know I am a million miles away from making any money at the moment. No point worrying until it’s actually being read and I’ve managed to sustain it for while – then I might explore this further and think again about domain names and hosting. But for the time being, I’m not spending any money if I can help it (can tell I have a Scottish Heritage?) Whatever happens, I know that blogs can bring a lot more value than just financial gain – else why would millions of people be writing them?!

Bloggers anonymous

3 07 2012

My first blog is created! Its purpose is to find out if all these claims about marketing in the digital age are true from a practitioner’s point of view. Can I find afabulous new opportunities through LinkedIn? Can I grow my followers on Facebook and Twitter in the blink of an eye? Will Pinterest work for my business? And what the hell is Google + all about and do I really want the extra work?!

A bit about me (but only a short bit don’t worry!) I currently work for a London University and any views expressed here are my own and not of the organisations. I will be trialling some tools to see if they work for boosting the profile of the Universiy and hopefully raise my own profile in the subject in the distant hope that one day someone will consider me worth employing in an individual capacity. If you believe the hype there are fantastic opportunites out there for the social savvy without the need to have extensive HTML/computer literacy – I probably know as much as anyone who studied a CIM qualification in marketing in the age before Amazon made any money and Facebook was just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.

So to the blog. How easy was it to set up? Answer pretty easy. I heard WordPress was the best although I had used the Google version – Blogger – before but their templates seemed a bit limited. The media consultant I had listened to recently recommended it and so I logged on. I filled in my name and email and chose a preloaded ‘Freshly’ template. Something simple and free, without too many fancy bits. I clicked on the template and it appeared except my name was the title of my blog. Damn! Managed to change it and chose ‘Travels in Social Media and Marketing.’ Slightly concerned people might think I’m linked to the travel industry but I googled the name and no obvious blogs appeared but a lot of links to travel. I guess this is still technically a work in progress so may have a think about something else. That’s why this post is ‘Bloggers Anonymous’ – no one’s read it yet, so I can call it what I like!

The good thing about WordPress is that the ‘dashboard’ where everything is created is quite easy to guess. No of course I didn’t watch the tutorial – like a bloke I ploughed straight ahead to see what I could do. Next dilemma – how long should the post be? I don’t want to bore the audience rigid. I think I have a lot to learn about blogging so I guess this is one of my next goals. Find out how to do it properly. Blog written time to preview and hope for the best.

P.S Blog tip of the day spell check your blog before posting. I cut and paste it into word so the typos flash at me in red, make corrections, then paste back into the blog.