5 Tips for Getting More From Twitter

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follow me on twitterIn continuing with my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 tips for LinkedIn and 5 tips for Facebook) I’m covering some tips for business use of Twitter here. I’ve actually written about some of these tips in great detail before in this free ebook – Twitter for Business, but this can act as a quick primer for folks who like their info snack sized like this.

1. Tweet great content 3-4 times a day – Follow people who always find great stuff, subscribe to blogs that feature great links and reviews of new tools, scan weekly and daily email news digests such as SmartBriefs, cruise over to the delicious popular page and read print publications of interest. All of these sources (most of which can be scanned in a 15 minute sitting once you have them set up) are rich with content that your followers and the twitter world in general wants to read. One of the most valuable services you can provide is to be a filter for the information overload your prospects, customers and network are feeling. In a way, your twitter stream can become that valuable filter for pointing out the best content, but do it consistently and watch your follower count grow.

2. Reply to conversations (@ducttape) – One of the best ways to get engaged with those you follow is to join conversations where appropriate and offer answers and suggestions. Many common tweets come in the form of a question from someone looking for help. When you offer the solutions to these forms of tweets you automatically become more engaged and demonstrate some of your own knowledge, expertise and willingness to help. Obviously, you can’t sit around all day answering questions, but by focusing on addressing conversations that are related to your industry and field of expertise, you can build a reputation around topics that matter to your business objectives. Use 3rd party tools such as Seesmic Desktop (make sure you look at their browser based tool if you are having resource issues with desktop tools) or Tweetdeck so that you can easily scan conversations and be ready to reply to conversations that are directly related to you.

3. Retweet other people’s content – Another network and follower building practice is to retweet other people’s tweets. This is simply the act of taking someone’s tweet and tweeting it in your stream – with full credit to the original tweeter. This has become a very standard practice on twitter (designated with a RT) and can be overdone, but you can also use it for two purposes. If you are following people who tweet what you find to be very interesting content you are doing your followers a favor by sharing that content with them. In addition, you are, in effect, acknowledging the person whose content your retweeted. This is a nice bit of the culture of sharing and usually comes back in some form to help you build your following. People generally pay attention to the folks that are retweeting their content. However, this can become a crutch as well – make sure you are pushing your own content out in a nice mix. You can use tools like tweetmeme to track the most popular retweets. This can be a way to find new content for tip #1.

4. Use search to meet objectives – For many twitter power users search in the most important feature of twitter. You can use the twitter advanced search tool to create very elaborate searches that can filter out only the tweets that address your specific industry in your specific geography. Or you can find people talking about your expertise, whining about a problem you can help with, or proving a solution you need. Searches you create on twitter also produce an RSS feed so you can set your searches up in a way that deliver the results to your RSS reader on a daily basis. I would also include the use of the #hashtag function (I wrote in greater detail about hashtag use here) as a search tool. Get in the habit of using it to promote your events and promotions and while attending events, in person or online, as it’s a great way to find and connect with like-minded folks attending events. People who follow the event tag from afar will bump into your content this way as well. Once again, 3rd party tools like Seesmic Desktop and Tweetdeck allow you to monitor your searches, including hashtags, on your desktop.

5. Be easy to retweet and follow – This one is both on twitter and off. Sharing great info is the first rule, but you can do other things as well. While twitter allows 140 characters, if you aim for 120 your tweets will be easier for someone to RT. This way people can add their handle and a bit of commentary. Use tools, such as the Tweetmeme WordPress plugin I have at the beginning of this post (go ahead you know you want to click that green retweet), that make your content off twitter easy to tweet. Add your “follow me on twitter” button to web pages, email newsletters and email signature. Add your @name to your business cards, stationary and invoices.

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