Rule #1: Planning Matters
One of the best metaphors for Twitter is that it’s a bar. Unlike Facebook where you know interact with ‘friends’, on Twitter you can engage with almost anyone. There are millions of simultaneous conversations happening on thousands of topics. It can be overwhelming. It can also be enlightening.
The open nature of Twitter is what makes it so compelling as a potential tool for business. However, businesses that think they can create an account and start marketing on Twitter (or: spewing sales pitches) are in for a rude awakening. Not only will that strategy fail, the Twitter community could turn on the company and create a public relations nightmare for the business.
Marketing isn’t about pushing products. It’s about understanding market needs, analyzing competition, identifying the positioning ‘sweet spot’, building awareness and credibility, developing and supporting a community of loyal customers and more. Twitter can be used for any or all of these marketing objectives. In fact, one of Twitter’s unique strengths is its ‘discovery’ capabilities.
What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals and how will you know that you’re successful or going the right direction? You can start Rule #2 before having these fully completed, but you need to have your Twitter objectives nailed down before you start tweeting.
Rule #2: Listen First
Remember how we said Twitter is like a bar? How would people react if you walked into a bar (or coffee shop or other public place for socializing) and you started shouting about whatever was on your mind? Best case they’d ignore you. More likely, you’d be thrown out – and maybe never allowed back.
The same applies on Twitter. Don’t spam. Relevance is essential. The Twitter community is judge and jury. It can be difficult to recover from a bad reputation so it’s best not to get one in the first place.
If you’re just getting started on Twitter, be sure to listen (read) for a while before you start posting or replying. There’s nothing wrong with being a voyeur. Even if you’re already on Twitter, take a step back and just listen once in a while. Do it on a fairly regular basis. Twitter is evolving quickly.
So what are you ‘listening’ for?
– What are the hot topics, most popular links from tweets, or most popular users?
– What are the types of tweets that get re-tweeted most?
– What are the users in your industry or target audience tweeting about? Steph Korey
Rule #3: Find Your Voice
When you were listening in the previous rule, you certainly noticed many different styles of tweets. If you didn’t, you should go back and listen harder.
While there is no right or wrong answer for what your Twitter style or voice should be, there are definitely considerations to make before you start tweeting. You need to make sure that your voice is appropriate for the objectives that you are trying to achieve and the image that you want to portray. You should document the characteristics of your chosen voice and why they are important – this is especially useful if you will have more than one person tweeting for your organization or if you plan to hire ghost writers.
So what are the characteristics that you need to consider? One way to think about the characteristics of your Twitter voice is to map out several vectors with different extremes on each end then decide where your ideal position would be on each vector. For example, do you want your Twitter stream to be fully automated or fully manual? Professional or casual? It’s unlikely that you’ll be at either extreme, but the vector will allow you to easily visualize your voice.
Rule #4: Look Alive
Creating an account on Twitter and leaving the default profile photo and background is a sure-fire way to show Twitter users that you’re not serious about Twitter or the Twitter community as a whole. There is no excuse for not investing in the small effort that it takes to create a rich profile page and profile photo.