Since I’ve started working at my current firm I’ve been tasked at dragging the firm into the 21st century in terms of social media. I’ve mainly been focusing on LinkedIn but today I had to give a presentation, to a few senior members, introducing Twitter as part of the spectrum of social media platforms.
The main aim of the presentation was to educate the guys and girls about Twitter and how firms and individuals are using this platform to shout from the roof top, and engage with a wider audience.
I thought it might be useful to blog about some of the key points from my presentation, just in case anyone out there needs to introduce Twitter to a room full of accountants!
So what exactly is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media tool that lets users send out short messages, or ‘Tweets’, that are picked up and read by anyone who decides to follow you. The main reason Twitter has become pretty successful is because your tweets have to be 140 characters long, so you are forced to be ‘straight to the point’ with your messages.
Some people have created a Twitter account, sent out a tweet or two, and then sat back and thought “What’s all the fuss about?” I’ve listed a few of the benefits below; whether you want to get involved in Twitter from an individual or corporate angle, the same benefits apply:
- Personal/business promotion and broadcasting
- Reputation /brand monitoring
- Competition monitoring
- Event monitoring
- Information gathering/research
- Sharing content, ideas, links
- Search engine
Setting up an account
Setting up a Twitter account is relatively quite straight forward. Just head over to Twitter.com and click on the ‘Sign up’ button.
When picking a username, consider using your name or your company’s name instead of a nickname. This allows potential followers to know who you really are, important if you are interested in branding yourself. Also a real name allows people to find you easily and build trust quickly.
You can only use 160 characters for this, so best to keep it short and to the point. A good tip is to use keywords so people can easily see what you can inform them about. Here’s an example for an IFA, “Experienced IFA, speaker, columnist and avid football fan” This gives enough for a potential follower to make a decision about following you.
A profile picture is a must! You won’t get taken seriously if you just use the default Twitter image. A decent head shot with a Colgate smile will give followers an insight to your personality. No harm being creative with it too.
Twitter has some template backgrounds that you can edit as you want. If you are feeling brave there are websites that create more customisable backgrounds for you to use, but remember people use various screen resolutions, so you need to make sure you make it big enough.
Before you start tweeting away…
So you’ve set up you profile and you’re almost ready to send your first tweet, but before you get involved think about what you want to achieve using Twitter and how you want to be perceived. What is your strategy? Personal or business?
The best thing you can do at this stage is “Listen” to the conversation. I don’t mean by putting your ear up against your monitor, but by following Twitter users that have similar interests. Follow between 30-40 people and just look at what’s being said, especially by people or brands that are similar to you. You’ll come across some weird-looking language/symbols like RT, @ or #, don’t worry about this too much yet, just get a feel for the conversation.
So whilst you’ve been listening to the conversation, you can start thinking about what you can say to add value. Twitter and social media in general is all about building relationships. To do this successfully you need to give before you receive.
People like reading tips, stats, opinions and links to relevant articles whether they are from your website or not. Once you’ve got a good feel for the style and content of your messages. Tweet away!!
I’m getting drowned in tweets!?!
When I first started using Twitter I did find the masses of tweets and information a bit overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you making the most out of it! There are plenty of apps that can make Twitter easier to manage. A really good one to use is Tweet Deck. Twitter has actually acquired Tweet Deck now because is soo damn good!!
The good thing about Tweet Deck is that it allows you can organise your tweets into separate columns. So you can have a column for you your business tweets, a separate column for your interests or particular search term. Basically, you can cut the wheat from the chaff using tweet deck and just focus on the tweets that you are interested in.
Understanding the lingo
I mentioned earlier that you may come across some weird-looking symbols as you get more accustomed to Twitter. Here’s the one’s you need to know about.
Use the @ sign if you want to talk to someone direct. So for example “@DunkingDigital thanks for the awesome guide to Twitter.” Bear in mind that @DunkingDigital and everyone else following you will be able to see this tweet.
This is short for “Re-Tweet”. If you read a tweet that you think your followers will find useful, RT it. This lets your followers see it and also gives a virtual hi5 to the tweet originator. It’s good etiquette too.
This sign is the HASHTAG. This is used in a clever way to label a message. For example if you go to an event these days, the present may mention, “Please use #Genericevent if you would like to comment on proceedings” Now if you search the hashtag #Genericevent on Twitter you will get a stream of all the conversations that have #Genericevent included. It’s a great way to see all the conversations relating to a particular topic.
This stands for Direct Message, Twitters equivalent to email. If you DM someone, that message is just between you and the person you sent it to. Nobody else can see it. Note that you can only send DMs to people that are following you.
As you become more involved in Twitter conversations you’ll quickly get used to the etiquette. It is not about one way communication, so just pumping out emails to pages on your website doesn’t go down well with the twitter community. As you’d strike up a conversation at a networking event, try to do the same on Twitter. Respond to relevant conversations, and think of others before yourself, and give before you receive. If you can point people towards relevant articles, tips or give useful opinions. Also remember, “Nobody likes a show-off” go easy on blowing your own trumpet, its OK once in while but keep it to a minimum.
In a nutshell…
Building relationships is the number one key to success on Twitter. People won’t follow you, read your tweets, or click on your links unless you are adding value to them. That said, defining value can be difficult because people are using Twitter for a whole host of reasons, but in a business to business context it’s easier to understand.
So when you send out a tweet, think about the following:
- Am I providing useful insight and comments?
- Am I pointing people to content that is relevant to their business?
- Am I recommending other useful people for my followers to follow?
Doing all of these things shows that you are willing to get involved in the conversation and build genuine relationships.
With 140 characters to say something useful it can be a bit daunting, just remember that the majority of tweets link to bits of content, an article or a blog. Putting in links using link shorteners you can enhance the value of a short comment.
As well as coming across as professional, don’t be afraid to add some personality to your tweets, all work and no play springs to mind. If your Twitter account is as dry as the Sahara, you can come across as pretty dull. Add a bit of humour to engage with others.
Social media in professional services
Twitter has become a lot more prevalent in the professional services sector, with a large amount of IFAs and SMEs taking the big leap into the Twittersphere.
Individuals and companies getting involved are sharing thoughts, views and information amongst themselves, but also building relationships with current and potential customers. There is a heap of evidence out there that suggests new customers can potentially be found using social media, which includes platforms such as Twitter, Linkedin YouTube and Facebook.
So go on, dip your toes into social media, the best thing about it is that it’s FREE!