WHAT’S TWITTER ALL ABOUT?
Twitter is a social networking platform hosting the world’s largest online conversation. All tweets are limited to 140 characters which means they are likely to be short and to the
point. You can follow any other user without needing their permission, and you can send anyone an open message. Whether they follow you back and/or reply to your message is another story. Don’t take it too personally if they don’t.
WHO’S TWITTER FOR?
Traditionally the social network of choice for media folk, politicians and footballers, it’s now working its way into everyone’s life – even the new pope has got a Twitter account (@Pontifex). Whether you are just interested in what someone has to say on a daily basis, or you want to push out some interesting content about your company, you will find an audience on Twitter. And it won’t cost you anything apart from the time you may waste reading about media folk, politicians and footballers. And popes.
5 Tweeters to Follow
- Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) King of the tweeters. When it comes to Twitter, Fry has the Midas touch. Anything he touches turns to gold. Luckily for his followers, he’s very discerning in his endorsements.
- Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) The Times writer tweets likes there’s no tomorrow, and like she has no other way of contacting her famous friends. We’ve been caught listening in on her conversations far too many times.
- Not Will Ferrell (@itsWilllyFerrell) This is one of the many parody accounts on Twitter. If you’re even slightly famous expect to be impersonated by somebody, the quality of these accounts varies massively. But the people behind Not Willy Ferrell know what they’re doing, the only question is ‘How do they have time to do anything else?’
- Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) Despite living Stateside now, this media mogul-turned-TV-personality doesn’t let the time difference displace him from our Twitter feeds. He’s constantly entering into spats with tweeters back home, namely Sir Alan Sugar. Watch out though, these entertaining outbursts are interspersed with adverts for whatever his latest venture is.
- Elizabeth Windsor (@Queen_UK) No, not that one. This is another parody account that’s worth its weight in Twitter gold. You’ve never heard the Queen talk this candidly.
AREN’T FACEBOOK AND LINKEDIN ENOUGH?
Facebook is a great tool for catching up with your old uni mates, stalking ex-partners and watching dogs on skateboards. Then you’re probably using LinkedIn for all the boring stuff; looking up your clients, researching companies and discussing regulatory affairs and/or new work pension agreements with number-crunchers.
Twitter sits somewhere in between these two networks, you can chat with your mates but you can also have a conversation with Richard Branson (if you really want one). Facebook and LinkedIn are great for interacting with people you already know, Twitter can help you find new contacts online. If you’re looking for a lucky break, Twitter is your best bet as it frequently seems to have a magically serendipitous effect. Someone or something always turns up.
WHAT SHOULD I BE TWEETING?
The best tweeters out there are in fact very good marketeers. By that we mean people who understand what their target audience wants to read about and know how to interact with them. Your first step is to identify who you want reading your tweets, then look at influential tweeters in that space to get ideas of content and engagement tactics. In other words, copy, ape and emulate.
A good rule of thumb is to mix things up; tweet links to articles, try to start conversations, answer other people’s questions and so forth. Beware of plugging yourself too much, 90% of your tweets should be about THEM and be useful, interesting and entertaining. It’s like any normal conversation. Show interest in what they have to say, rather than bore them to death with what you have to say.
WHAT ABOUT HASHTAGS?
Hashtags are a powerful feature of Twitter. By using a hashtag (let’s say #bluffer), your tweet will appear when anyone searches for the hashtag on Twitter or other search engine. This means your tweets will get more exposure and might get picked up and retweeted by someone with plenty of followers. Use hashtags whenever possible but don’t overdo it – one or two per tweet is enough. And remember that some hashtags have different meanings in different countries. For example, the hashtag for jobs in the public sector in the US is #pubjobs, whereas in the UK it might mean where to find a job pulling pints.
WAIT, WHAT’S RETWEETING?
Retweeting someone on Twitter is akin to ‘liking’ a post on Facebook, and is just as easy. Click on the arrow button (which looks a little like the recycling symbol) to repeat a message verbatim. This roughly translates as ‘What-he/she-said’. But beware the sarcastic retweet, Ricky Gervais is a fan of these. If you’re overcome with the need to comment on another tweeter’s tweet copy and paste the tweet in question into your own message, adding in your response beforehand. Remember to precede their tweet with ‘RT’. Although retweeting is fun, being retweeted yourself is one of the best feelings in the world. Trust us.
WHO SHOULD I FOLLOW?
When you sign up, Twitter will give you suggestions of people to follow. These will typically be users that don’t need more followers like Stephen Fry or Lady Gaga. Unless you’re a fan, we would recommend avoiding these and instead target people in your own industry, profession, location, rugby team, hobby club, etc. You’ll get a lot more out of these users as they don’t have a mass following already and will be inclined to interact with you. The more followers you get, the more you earn the right to ignore the newbies on Twitter.
HOW DO YOU STAY ON TOP OF YOUR TWITTER FEED?
Once you start following more than 10 tweeters (which will happen very quickly), you’ll realise that it can be very distracting just to keep up with everyone’s updates. One simple piece of advice is to organise people you follow in lists; this means you can filter down updates to only see a select few tweeters instead of everyone. You can create a public list which will let your listees know that you’re paying attention, or for some serious stalking you just create a private list which means that person has no idea you’re listening.
HOW DO YOU GET MORE FOLLOWERS?
Unless you’re a celebrity, you’ll soon realise that it’s not as easy as you might think to attract followers on Twitter. Apart from being a good tweeter and putting out interesting content, you might want to try following a handful of new people every day. Our experience is that one in four people will follow you back. Yes, there’s a limit to how many tweeters you can follow so give people a few days to follow you back and if that doesn’t happen you can always unfollow and follow someone else. Are you following?
WHAT’S THIS THING CALLED KLOUT?
To make Twitter even more addictive, you can log on to Klout and check your online influence score which is measured by your Twitter activity. It’s ‘gamification’ gone crazy, you can see how you stack up against your peers and you can award Klout score to others. If they don’t reciprocate we suggest that you never talk to them again.
MAXIMUM BLUFFING VALUE
By using a tool like Buffer (not Bluffer) or Hootsuite, you can schedule tweets to be delivered when you’re actually on a sunny beach sipping cocktails (and checking your phone to make sure the scheduled tweets went out on time).
‘It’s not about your number of followers, it’s all about engagement.’
‘Klout scores are so misleading, I prefer PeerIndex and/or Kred.’
‘I know where to buy 1,000 followers for a tenner.’
‘I’ve got five tweets on daily auto-repeat, I’m sure the message is hitting home.’
‘Hashtag downgraded chancellor.’