Some people love it, others hate it. Some think it’s what the Internet was created for yet others think it’s the biggest waste of bandwidth ever envisioned or created in the Universe. Like it or love it, Twitter is here, it’s staying and it’s getting bigger.
To understand why Twitter will feature big in the arsenal of web marketers, socialites and me-mes everywhere we need to know who use it, why they use it and how that knowledge can be used to grab followers and sell products.
Back in 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed Google Search which revolutionized the way we navigate the Web. Nearly 10 years later, in 2006, Jack Dorsey created Twitter which has revolutionized the way we chat over the Net.
Were I a gambler I would bet my money that all three men took dentistry lessons from the same teacher because they kitted their babies with the same competition eating gnashes. Both Google and Twitter have:
- An easy to use interface
- A clear-look, no clutter design, and
- A configurable layout
Both let people turn-up and browse; both let people sign-in and take ownership of their homepage; and together they satisfy our basic human drive to forage and to socialize.
Not satisfied there, they crowned those big gnashes by quenching our thirst to be control freaks. Twitter goes that little bit further by allowing us to feel special, wanted and interesting by allowing us to compete for followers and shout to the world about what we are doing, when we did it and who we did it with.
So What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro blogging platform that lets people “tweet” posts of up to 140 characters of text to a newsfeed. Users of the platform are called tweeters. Tweeters can follow and unfollow tweeters at will.
People use Twitter in different ways. For example:
- Web marketers use Twitter as an opt-in/opt-out marketing platform
- Networkers see it as a way to meet like minded people
- Most people see Twitter as a good, cheap, easy and convenient way to communicate
- Sociopaths think it’s a popularity contest
- Me-mes think it’s a cool place to show-off their latest antics
- Some use it for conferences known as tweetups
Twitter is a Wild West saloon in a town without a sheriff. A free-for-all micro-forum that lets people join when they want, leave when they want, lock the gates when they need and sell snake-oil to the naive.
Who Uses Twitter and why?
Twitter is used by everyday people, everyday stalkers, everyday criminals, everyday spammers, bloggers, business owners, the rich and famous, plumbers, quantum physicists, mothers, politicians, health and safety executives… Twitter doesn’t discriminate.
Twitter has something to draw-in everyone and its simplistic interface is so easy to use that not an airhead nor genius struggles to operate it despite lacking the regular common sense that is second nature to most.
How do we turn this knowledge into followers?
Firstly, we know a lot of tweeters see Twitter as a popularity contest. They will follow almost anyone who follows them and any tweeter they happen to notice who follows someone they follow or someone who appears popular.
Secondly, by following people whether we know them or not we get a bit of a status rub. Some of those people who follow celebrities often follow their followers because they want to be part of a bigger group of like minded people. So follow celebrities.
Thirdly, people search Twitter for text that relates to a subject they care about like their celebrity, role model, country, workplace, environment or a current news item. People search Twitter for just as many different subjects as they do Google, Bing and Yahoo. Mention someone’s search terms in a tweet and your tweet is likely to be found by someone who might follow you because of your tweet.
Let’s convert those three observations into productive actions and statements:
Action: Follow people to grow your followers
Statement: The more followers you have the more followers you will attract
Action: Follow celebrities to gain status rub
Statement: People like to join up with other fans of their celebrities
Action: Follow celebrity followers and those whom are followed by celebrities
Statement: Many celebrity followers are predisposed to follow others
Action: Follow your competitors’ followers and the people your competitor follows
Statement: Your competitors will already have followers who are inclined to buy their products. If you can offer better for less then you might just steal your competitors’ customers.
Knowing how and why people use Twitter alerts us to how we can create attention grabbing tweets to increase our market reach:
- They must be natural
- They must draw in your target audience
- They must provoke an emotional response
- They must have the right keywords
- They must impart the right meaning to create the desired effect
- They must use relevant popular hashtags
Try not to tweet URLs too often. People like conversation and status updates about the people they follow. I don’t always practice what I preach so please don’t look to my Twitter account as a blueprint.
Treat your twitter page as you would any other website you promote. Give it your brand, send visitors to it and attract visitors to it as you would any other web page.
Tell me, when you scan your twitter stream for tweets by a specific sender, what do you look for?
I reckon you look for the tweeter’s avatar. You are not alone. It’s easier to recognize a picture than read a name. Use an avatar that attracts attention and stands out from all other avatars. If you change it, tweet it.
How do we make use of this dream marketing platform?
The Six Steps to Twitter Success
There are 6 steps to Twitter success. Yes, you read that right, just five steps that will help you utilize the information described above and earn and collect followers, talk with your followers, and organize them into related topic groups for easy access to their tweets.
- Create a Twitter Account
- Register with SocialOomph and Time2Tweet
- Connect with Refollow
- Register with different Twitter directories
- Engage your followers
- Use hashtags
Those five steps are the important factors of successful twitter management. Let’s work through those steps one-by-one:
Create a Twitter Account
Give this one a little thought:
- What’s your purpose for using Twitter?
- Do you want to connect with like-minded people?
- What are you trying to sell?
Gather a few ideas then decide whether you should register under your real name, a pseudonym, your business name, your website name or a title that relates to your product. Remember you can have multiple accounts. There are many free desktop and web-based twitter applications that assist the management of multiple accounts.
Register with SocialOomph
SocialOomph is a Twitter, Facebook and StatusNet automation service:
- It autofollows new followers
- It sends preset welcome messages to new followers
- It lets you create tweets to publish at scheduled times
- It auto unfollows Twitter users who unfollow you
SocialOomph will not, on its own, cause your account to be suspended provided you use it responsibly and follow the usage guide.
Do you use twitter lists?
SocialOomph can automatically organize all your twitter followers into twitter lists. It does much more to ease the burden of looking after a large number of followers than any other twitter app I have so far found.
Register with Time2Tweet
This is a dream batch tweeting application when you who need to tweet lots of information already stored in a file.
I found this app while looking for a way to stream customer reviews to one of my websites via Twitter. Over six thousand reviews were already stored in a CSV file. All I had to do was reformat the data to match Time2Tweet’s requirements, add time stamps, wordwrap the lines to 135 characters (140 max, I chose 135 to be safe), apportion the files into 1,000 line segments then upload it, check the imported tweets and confirm them. So simple!
The CSV file should has particular requirements. Some CSV files separate data in the “quotation mark, comma, quotation mark” format, e.g
"data1","data2 three four","data3"
Time2Tweet uses only commas, e.g
data1,data2 three four,data3
And the data line should contain only 3 commas, e.g
Time2Tweet assumes the date and time of a status update with empty time and date fields (e.g status update) is the same as the status update that precedes it.
Connect with Refollow
This is an online application for sorting followers, mass unfollowing those who no longer follow you and mass follow those who follow (or are being followed by) other tweeters.
Register with Twitter Directories
You won’t get many followers through Twitter directories unless you’re your famous or your service is unique or in demand but you will get some over time so they’re still worth registering with.
Plus, you can use directories to find people who might be interested in your products then use Refollow to find and follow all of their followers and all of the people they follow.
Do not follow and unfollow more than a 300 people per day or Twitter will label you a spammer.
Here are 6 Twitter directories to get you going:
Engage Your Followers
You must interact with your followers if you want them to click your links, read your tweets, retweet your tweets and suggest you to their followers. The best way to interact is to read the tweets that appear in your twitter stream and reply to the ones that you can meaningfully comment on.
Remember to send @ replies and to read your @’s and private messages.
Click the Trend Words displayed to the right hand side of your twitter stream to find tweets you can send @messages to.
Use the many tweet search applications to find tweets that mention subjects relevant to your interests. For example, were I selling travel products I would search tweets for the key words “I”, “want”, “travel” (or their equivalents) then send @messages to some of the tweeter’s who wish to travel. To be careful, I would follow them too.
Twitter is a free-for-all quick-fire forum where people expect to receive regular updates about the people they follow so update your status regularly with meaningful tweets. Make statements, observations and witticisms about anything and ask questions to elicit responses. Don’t make every tweet a sales tweet or URL tweet, they’re not required, expected or liked except when the recipient has followed a tweeter to specifically receive sales and promotional tweets.
Hashtags are tags attached to tweets to help people find tweets. They are like keywords in regular web pages. Anyone can create a hashtag by putting one of these “#” in front of a word. For example, #twitter #fb #wp.
Use hastag search engines to find trending hashtags that you can add to your tweets to increase your tweets’ chances of being found by your followers and non followers.
Hashtag search engines include:
My favorites are tagdef.com and trendsmap.com.
And for that extra smile, go that extra mile
Join some of the games that are available to Twitter users. I’ve joined several games and have met some wonderful people while playing them. Twitter games are a good way to increase your reach to real people – when people like your playing style or if they want to chat with you they follow your twitter profile.
As said earlier, those are the 6 steps (plus the sneaky seventh) that will help you develop your social profile with Twitter. Many people who use Twitter also use Facebook, MySpace, Digg and other social network and bookmark sitess. If you have a proven track record and strong following through Twitter your twitter followers will also join you in other online social communities.
Here’s a Little Bonus Information
Twitter’s Mysterious @ and # Marks
There is much more to twitter than just sending and receiving short messages. The message box accepts a whole range of commands that make it easy to connect with others and join in conversations. Here are two that are very useful for marketers but be careful not to over use them because doing so could get your twitter account suspended:
@ is a way to communicate with a specific user with a tweet targeted at him or her. The great selling point of these @ communications is that you do not need to be following or be followed by the recipient. Just send an @message to the recipient’s user name. It’s usage is simple: put an “@” immediately in front of the recipient’s user name then type a space followed by your message. @Messages appear in your twitter stream and in the target recipient’s twitter stream and @Messages page. @Messages are public and do appear in all of your follower’s twitter streams.
# is a method of tagging a tweet. More commonly known as the hash symbol, when used to tag tweets it as called an hashtag. Place an hashtag in front of a word within a tweet and that word then categorizes that tweet. Any word may be used as an hashtag by placing an hash symbol (#) in front of it. Multiple hashtags can be used within one tweet and they may be placed anywhere within it. Savvy people who search for tweets search for hashtags. More information about hashtags is available here at Twitter.
More messaging commands are detailed in Twitter’s help page.
Twitter’s Not-so-Secret Functions
Twitter provides some excellent ways to make it easy to share, organize and search tweets, pictures and videos
Retweet is a way to send a tweet from any twitter user to all of your followers. It could be a tweet from one of your followers or a tweet from someone you do not follow or who does not follow you. A retweeted tweet is a good tweet. It could get you more followers and it could get your products better noticed.
Lists are a means to categorize the people you follow. This allows you to view tweets from a specific group of followers e.g family members, news broadcasters or cartoon creators.
Twitter Search and Twitter Advanced Search is Twitter’s own search engine that allows people to search the global tweet stream. It is not the best option for searching Twitter (two better alternatives are given below).
TwitPic is Twitter’s own answer to Flikr; it allows tweeters to upload and share their pictures.
TwitVid allows people to share videos and tweet via video. I am unsure whether TwitVid is an official Twitter product; it probably isn’t but what the hell, it’s functional and useful.
These next two products are not official Twitter offerings; they are produced by third parties. Both make it easier to search tweets and see current hot trends:
TwitScoop is a tweet search engine and trending application. This package connects with your twitter account and assists with analyzing it.
Tweetzi is a simple search and trending application that does not require access to your twitter account.
The Six Most Common Twitter Mistakes
It’s very easy to be get a Twitter account suspended or removed from Twitter search. These are the six actions that will definitely get you into Twitter’s blacklist:
- Repetedly posting duplicate or near-duplicate content (links or tweets)
- Abusing trending topics or hashtags (topic words with a # sign)
- Sending automated tweets or replies
- Using bots or applications to post similar messages based on keywords
- Posting similar messages over multiple accounts
- Aggressively following and un-following people
That list comes directly from Twitter’s list of no-no’s. Pay attention to that list because Google indexes Twitter Search.
If you do find yourself blacklisted, a guide to getting whitelisted is available here.
Write good tweets, do not send links in every tweet, communicate with your followers, use hashtags to categorize your tweets, organize your followers into lists, use SocialOomph to engage and organize your followers, use ReFollow to find followers, use TwitScoop to research current trends and find tweets that might be good sales leads and register with the many available Twitter directories. Now go forth and twitter :-)
You can read some facts about Twitter, Facebook and other social bookmarking sites here: