A lot of businesses and bloggers have caught on to the idea that social media is a relatively inexpensive tool for promotion. I remember when a lot of people thought the same thing about faxes, e-mails, text-messaging and the home phone. The problem is that a lot of these businesses are treating the social networks the same way they did the other communication tools, and simply "spamming" the sites. Unfortunately, they're getting the same reaction - they're getting blocked, ostracized, rejected, and banned in the process.
But this is not necessary. It is possible to use the social networks effectively as a tool to promote a business and over the next couple of days we're going to discuss some easy tips for doing just that. Today, let's talk about Twitter.
Remember, Twitter is a place people go to either get updates on current news before it hits the major news networks (e.g. riots in Libya or Iran), or to be entertained (i.e. Charlie Sheen and his Tigerblood). People want to follow Tweeters who give them tweets that they can "retweet" to their own followers - either because the information is new or very funny. Therefore, the two best ways to get a lot of followers quickly is to make yourself useful in one of those two ways - either provide information people will WANT to share (news about events or sales or discounts within your industry) or Tweets that are truly entertaining (this takes talent, and sometimes a bit of luck).
If you're first posting the news on your blog or website, it's fine to link back to there in your Tweets. Be sure to make your Tweets short enough (less than 100 characters) to give people enough room to make a brief comment to their own followers or add their own hashtags when re-tweeting (Remember, the maximum character limit is 140 characters). Oh, and be sure to use a URL Shortener.
Don't simply use Twitter as alternate feed for your own blog. If people never see anything interesting on your Twitter feed besides links back to every single one of your blog posts, they'll drop you eventually. Or, they won't include you in their lists that they actually pay attention to.
Don't carry on private conversations in the public Twitter feed. If you have a dispute with other Twitter user, use e-mail or direct messaging to work it out. Twitter users tire quickly of "drama."
Don't use your business Twitter account as a personal journal, or an updating service for mundane activities. There is no need to let everyone know when you're going to bed or going to off-line for a period of time (this screams "noob!"). If you're feeling depressed, it's good to talk to someone about it, but your business Twitter feed is usually not the best place to share this information. As one recently Tweeted: "There's a thin line between 'I should tweet about that' and 'I should talk to a therapist about that."
Jennifer Pointer is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.