I recently heard Steve Knox, CEO of Proctor & Gamble’s word-of-mouth marketing group Tremor, reference social media for B2B in a presentation at #FireSessions. He said, “Before you ask is social media relevant in B2B, let me ask you if your customers are humans?” This is a critical point-of-view to understand that people are still people, and marketing is still marketing, regardless of your specific target audience.
Social media has its pros and cons and should be evaluated the same as any other marketing strategy or tactic. Twitter is one the most powerful tools when used effectively, but many people are stumped on where to begin. So this post serves as an introduction to Twitter basics and provides a few tips to help you get started.
Let’s start at the top.
Twitter allows you to post very short messages (also called “tweets”) of 140 characters or less. There are many tools to increase Twitter‘s basic functionality, but I recommend starting with Twitter.com until you get the basics down. You only view tweets from people you choose to follow.
Posts, or status updates, to Twitter are commonly called tweets to differentiate them from Facebook status updates or blog posts.
Tweet as a noun: “The tweet you sent about marketing was interesting. Thanks!”
Tweet as a verb: “Tweeting interesting links is a great way to gain more followers.”
Followers, not friends
Unlike Facebook and other social media networks, Twitter relationships are in two categories: Following and Followers. Or, those that you are following, and those that are followers of you. It is not a one-to-one relationship and takes no confirmation on either side. However, you can block someone that you do not want to follow you and you can unfollow anyone at anytime.
Your account homepage on Twitter displays your stream, or all tweets from all of the people that you are following. It is a real-time stream of tweets and visible to anyone that views your page, Follower or not. I explain this as a leaf in a stream, if I am standing on the bank when your leaf (tweet) floats by, I am likely to see it. The real-time nature of tweets means that you really cannot follow all of the tweets in your stream, so you usually only read the most recent tweets when you are logged in. With only 140 characters, it allows you skim quickly for relevant information.
Every account has a username. By typing it after www.Twitter.com in your browser, you can easily access their profile page and stream. You can also reference Twitter profiles in your tweets by adding @ before the user name.
For example, my Twitter username is jami_scansource. If you wanted to send me a tweet (ie., post a tweet that I would see), put @jami_scansource somewhere in your tweet. Twitter will automatically link the @username text to the user’s Twitter home page.
RT or “retweet”
To ReTweet means to re-post someone else’s tweet and give them credit for the tweet. The convention for retweeting is to put “RT @username” in front of the tweet you are retweeting. It’s polite to leave the original tweet as unedited as possible, though it’s acceptable to edit the tweet for length or clarity. Twitter has a feature that allows you to retweet easily from each tweet in your stream
For example, if I tweeted this:
5 Simple Ways B2B Can Measure Social Media ROI, http://myurl.com/abc123
…and you found it interesting enough to share with your followers, you can retweet it like so:
RT @jami_scansource 5 Simple Ways B2B Can Measure Social Media ROI, http://myurl.com/abc123
DM or “direct message”
DMs are private tweets that can only be seen by the recipient, similar to a message in Facebook. You can only send direct messages to people who are following you, so you can’t use DMs for spamming. This is a great way to have quick SMS-like discussions with your followers. You have a Direct Messages menu on the right-hand sidebar above your search bar. You can view all of your DMs there.
When your @username shows up in someone else’s tweet, that is called a mention.
Because you’re limited to 140 characters per tweet, most people use URL shortening services to post links.
Original link example: 69 characters
Shortened link using TinyURL.com: 25 characters
Hashtags are tags embedded in a tweet that start with the # symbol. This allows anyone using Twitter to easily search topics within all tweets on Twitter. For example, if you type #B2B in your search bar on the right of your Twitter page, you will get a filtered stream of tweets only using the #B2B hashtag. There is no formal process to create a hashtag, they are user generated and require other followers to understand the meaning to be effective.
Sites like http://www.wthashtag.com/ let you define hashtag meanings so others can know how to properly use them.
Popular hashtags include #FollowFriday to promote people of interest to others on Twitter and #CharityTuesday which allows others to find nonprofits every Tuesday who are looking for support. A great promotional opportunity for all nonprofits by the way!
There are lots of third-party web service providers that allow you to increase your effectiveness with Twitter. Many allow you to post, track keyword phrases and hashtags, manage multiple accounts, and shorten urls all in one place. Two of the most popular are http://www.hootsuite.com/ and http://www.tweetdeck.com/.
Twitter Clients, Apps and Tools
Twitter‘s decision to have a wide-open API (letting developers access all the same public data available to itself) is critical for their success. It is because of this API that Twitter has become more of a platform than a service. Thousand (millions?) of websites, iPhone apps, desktop programs, and other Twitter clients have sprung up to make it easier for you to interact with Twitter.
You don’t need to install one of these 3rd-party clients to use Twitter. You can always use the basics of tweeting from Twitter.com. At the end of this article I will provide a list of many different Twitter tools you may want to consider.
Blocking unwanted followers and spammers
You may get requests from spam Twitter accounts. You can block them in two ways. Directly from the User’s Twitter page or through your Followers list. Just hit Block and Twitter will confirm it.
So now that you understand Twitter, what is the best way to use it?
Consider Twitter your opportunity to easily create, discover and share great content that is relevant to you and your audience. Over time, you will identify the users that post a lot of the content that is important to you (see my blog on developing a targeted network). And hopefully, others will view you as that same resource themselves. Unlike Facebook, where it is entertaining to read the daily nuance status updates of your friends and family, Twitter is more about professional and passionate tweets to followers who may not find the first words of your one-year-old as relevant as your latest blog post.
How to set up your profile and target your content.
I recommend that you narrow your tweets to no more than three areas of focus, but a few random tweets every now and then will probably not hurt anything. So for instance, as a B2B marketer you may post in your bio line that you are posting on B2B marketing, event planning, and technology.
Should I tweet as my company or myself?
Yes! You should not miss an opportunity to expand your reach as much as possible. By having corporate and individual profiles, it will allow you to target your tweets even more and re-tweet anything that is relevant to both.
6 types of tweets to consider creating and sharing:
- Powerful stats about your cause
- Top Lists: Top 3, Top 10, etc.
- Blogs with great ideas, including yours
- Great quotes that are relevant to your followers
- Promote the profiles of those that you value
- Surveys and questions your need answered
How do I find like minds on Twitter?
There are many ways and dozens of third party apps to let you find followers. I do not believe that following people for the sakes of increasing your numbers is a sound strategy. I recommend reading the profile of everyone before you follow them and also check out their tweets. You want to make sure that the people you are following will add value to your day.
And please recognize that the best way is manual and takes a little time. The automated tools will get your numbers up quickly but you will not know anything about your network or the quality of their content.
The simplest place to start is by clicking the Search People link on the top of your Twitter page. That will give you various search options including searching by name, invite others via email, importing your address book, and Twitter recommendations.
Another simple way is to search terms that are relevant to you. For instance, type “rfid” in the search sidebar on Twitter and read all of the tweets for relevant information. When you find something, retweet it, then follow them by clicking on their username in the tweet. Read their bio, and click the follow button under their profile pic.
Once you find people that interest you, click on their followers by in their right sidebar and see if any of them look relevant to you. This is a manual digging process but can let you find some great resources.
TweetBeep.com allows you to set up alerts based on keywords. You can enter keyword phrases and you can receive emails with tweets that contain those phrases. I recommend starting with tweetbeep email alerts once a day and click through each morning and find more peeps to follow. You can get them real-time if you want certain phrases instantly. Tweetbeeps.com and Hootsuite.com are two of the best tools I have found to get really targeted content via Twitter.
Another great tool is Hootsuite.com. It allows you to create a very robust dashboard to monitor one or many Twitter profiles. You can track keywords, mentions, DMs, all from one interface. It is quickly becoming a favorite for all heavy Twitter users. Additionally, you can monitor other social media networks like facebook and linkedin.
Here is a “How to use Hootsuite.com” resource.
Thanks for your time and I hope you found this post beneficial. If I missed anything, please let me know and my apologies if anything is out of date. It all changes daily.