Twitter is not just about Cheese Sandwiches. By Mark Shaw http://www.markshaw.biz http://twitter.com/markshaw
Contents: Introduction About Mark Shaw What is Twitter? How do I get started with Twitter? Setting up you Twitter account Start Tweeting How do I start following? Stop Chasing followers, Start chasing Conversations. How to Leverage your Network How to get your message seen by a wider audience So where are the conversations? Measuring the resultsâ€Ś So to Recap
Introduction Does the world need another book on Twitter? I have been asking this question to myself over and over for the last 18 months. I have researched the internet and new books, are springing up almost on a daily basis. I have read most of them, and to me they all are pretty much the same and they all fall into the same two categories:1 – They are only interested in telling you how to gain thousands of new followers in literally days, how to make thousands of pounds of new revenue in pretty much the same time frame as well and how to automate everything so that you can just sit back and watch it all happen with little or no effort. 2 – They all tell you the ‘how’ to do Twitter. They will tell you what tools, to use, how to gain followers, how to retweet, and other pieces of information about Twitter. However I have not found one book, that actually tells you the ’why’.. Why should your business actually be on Twitter? What benefits may your business receive from being on Twitter? So I decided to write this eBook. This book will help you to understand why your business needs to be on Twitter. Why you can’t afford not to have a presence on Twitter. Once you have understood that, then I will go into how with whatever time you have available, you use Twitter as effectively as you can, understanding the Twitter rules of engagement, and finally how to measure the success of what you are doing. My Story When I joined Twitter in April 2008, like so many, I really did not understand what it was all about. Why I thought would anyone actually be interested in what I was doing? Why would anyone actually want to follow me to find out that I was having a coffee? And perhaps most of all, where was the business angle? Surely this was just like so many of the other social networking sites around. So like many others, I did nothing. However as the months went by, all I kept hearing was about this new thing called ‘Twitter’ so I decided to revisit the site. But this time, I decided to really learn about Twitter. I started to read, listen and watch those people that had been on Twitter for some time. I particularly wanted to find out how Twitter may be useful for business. Whilst absorbing all this information, that is where I really discovered what Twitter, was all about. Yes for sure it is a great way to inform people of what you are doing. It is great at keeping those nearest and dearest to us up to date with our whereabouts, and it is Important that there is an element of keeping your updates about what I describe as social chit chat. A fundamental part of Twitter is that it is a social network. It is not just about business. You can find some great new friends and
interact with some top people that has nothing to do with business. I would certainly encourage you to do that. But what happens if instead of informing people of what you are doing all the time, you start to share useful information? You start to direct people to useful resources on perhaps your own website and others that you have found? You start to engage with those that you are following, and that are following you, asking questions, delivering answers in your chosen area of expertise? You start to actively search out those that are having conversations about a topic that you have a passion on, and have a great level of knowledge and experience in. What starts to happen, is that over time, you become more visible, you become known as the go to person on that topic, you demonstrate time and time again your knowledge and expertise, which builds your credibility. This in turn leads to more website or blogsite traffic, which in turn leads to more speaking engagements, more purchases of your book, seminars, products, services and so on. Twitter can be brilliant for business. It can drive more people to visit your website, it can help you to build your brand, it can help you to find others to collaborate with, assist in locating new suppliers, and it can help you to sell more of your products, and so much more. But, there are rules on Twitter, yes there are the Twitter terms and conditions, but I am not referring to them. I am referring to the Twitter etiquette, These are the rules that relate to how you use Twitter effectively and how you can get more from using Twitter. Unfortunately these â€˜rulesâ€™ are not published. They are something that you have to learn either by trial and error, or by reading and listening to the guys and girls that have been using Twitter since it began. But once you have a grasp of how to effectively use the Twitter, then things will really fall into place. You will stop wasting time, and start focusing in on where you can really add value, which may well ultimately lead to more revenue. The common mistake that many make, is that they think that they can adopt many of the standard sales practices and apply them to Twitter. Twitter is not about selling. In fact I am going to say that again, as it is a very important point to remember. Twitter is not about selling. Those arriving onto Twitter who simply adopt may of the broadcast methods of selling their products, will be sorely disappointed. There are many other ways to sell in that fashion. Twitter is not about broadcasting, but more about listening, adding value, and then engaging with others. This for many is a huge shift in their thinking, and how they have approached sales before.
This approach, also takes time and effort. Something that many are unwilling to do. They simply want to turn up on Twitter, and start selling or promoting their product or services. You will find this approach simply does not work on Twitter. It will take time to develop those relationships, it will take time to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. But what will happen, is that done correctly and effectively, you will start to get people following you that are genuinely interested in what you have to say, you will start to create advocates that will be happy to refer others to you, you will become memorable as a great sharer of information, and someone that is happy and willing to help others. All this should lead you to be on the receiving end of more business enquiries. Most of the people that tell you that Twitter is rubbish, are those that have turned up, gave it 10 mins, did not achieve any sales and then left. This approach whether it’s on Twitter, or any other online or offline activity will not work. Twitter is a long term commitment, where consistency of appearance is required. It does not need hours each day, far from it. But what it does require is a commitment to turn up each day, and do a little. The key though is to be as effective with the time that you have available. Mistakes – I made a few Whilst I was testing, measuring and trying all manner of applications, new ideas etc.. I did make a few mistakes. I got suspended twice from Twitter for inadvertently breaking some of their terms of service rules. But out of the mistakes that I made, I am now far more knowledgeable. I can talk and advise with authority and experience, having actually done and tried what I am telling others to do. My business is Twitter. This is not an add on service that I have bolted onto something else that I do. I advise individuals, businesses and corporates on how to take their first steps on Twitter, and how to make it more effective for them. I love Twitter, and my aim is to help as many others as I can to really use Twitter more effectively. To really understand what they can use Twitter for, and how their business can truly benefit from using Twitter. So why the eBook? I wanted to distil all of my knowledge and experience that I have gained and put it into 1 eBook. But I did not want an eBook that was out of date very shortly after print. So I set about writing an eBook, that is not so much about the ‘how’ to do Twitter, and listing all the various Twitter applications etc.. but more the ‘why’. Why should your business be on Twitter? What are the benefits of your business being on Twitter? and how can you use Twitter more effectively.
Twitter some numbers I think that it is important for you to have some idea on how Twitter has grown over the last few years as more and more people are joining this platform, Nielsen online reported in March 2009 that Twitters growth in unique visitors grew by a massive 1382 % from Feb 2008 to Feb 2009 to just more than 7 Million visitors from the US in the month of Feb 2009. In June 2009, for Nielsen online also reported that nearly 21 million unique visitors to Twitter.com. That was a year-over-year increase of close to 2,000%. So as you can see, the actual growth and the forecast growth for Twitter are absolutely huge. With more and more people joining Twitter, come greater and greater opportunities for all. About Mark Shaw
At the time of writing this eBook, I have approx 12,000 followers, and have been ranked as high as # 3 in the UK &, #49 in the World for Twitter Elite. I have been on radio and published in the media in my capacity as an expert on Twitter Some of my major achievements include: winning the 40 yard dash at Butlins when I was 4 and a bit, spending a year working at a Cardiac Rehab centre in Chicago USA in 1995 and winning the 2001 business management award at Edwards Lifesciences for outstanding business development. My proudest moment was being present at the birth of my daughter. I intend at some stage to visit the modern 7 wonders of the world. These include, the Grand Canyon, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Machu Pichu in Peru, Pyramids in Egypt, Serengeti Plains, and the Galapagos Islands. What else? I once scored 205 in a ten pin bowling game, have scuba dived with dolphins in the red sea, did 50 press-ups every half our all day from 9.00 until 6pm, was in Hampstead station, when a small bomb went off, was allergic for many years to poultry, have watched Top Gun at least 25 times, carried out a structural survey on the late Sir Harvey Jones's house, I really love a good rollercoaster, and did I mention that I have been married twice....
Getting Started With Twitter
What is Twitter…..?
Twitter is a "micro-blogging" service that allows you to send messages of a maximum of 140 characters. When Twitter started in 2006 it was seen as a method of updating people with your current personal activities. People could very easily answer the question ‘what am I doing’ and inform those following them of what they were up to. What Twitter also allowed you to do was to follow others, and to be followed. This enabled people to share their updates with others that were interested in what they were up to. So you could be kept informed by all your friends, family and perhaps famous celebrities of what they were doing.
Many today still use Twitter this way, however there is a much wider and better use of Twitter, and that is for business. Twitter offers a new and innovative way to drive new traffic to your website, blog, or newsletter engage with a new audience, share opinions, tools, resources, knowledge, find new suppliers, connect with new people, and demonstrate your knowledge.
Twitter can also help with increasing your personal branding, gaining feedback, carrying out market research, making new friends, notifying your customers of special offers, stock levels, offers fast help, support, inform people of your whereabouts for Impromptu meetings, and perhaps best of all, it is fast and totally mobile, you can access Twitter from anywhere in the world where they have an internet connection, via your PC or mobile phone. So How Do I Get Startedâ€Ś..
The first thing that you need to do is to head over to http://twitter.com. Once there, you simply press the tab marked â€˜Sign Up Now. You will then be taken to the sign up page. Enter a few details, and within 30 seconds you should have you account up and running. Choose the name wisely of your account, do you want the account to go by your personal name or your business name. My tip would be to get the personal name if you can. Twitter is essentially about people communicating with other people. That is not to say that corporates are not on Twitter. http://twitter.com/delloutlet are on Twitter, and does extremely well promoting a selected range of products to their followers.
Setting Up Your Account.
You now need to start inserting some basic information to your account. You do this from the menu at the top of the page – Settings. The key things that I strongly urge you to add are a good photo, and a bio. These are both essential. Twitter is all about being personal, so a nice photo of you, and not your company logo or icon please. The bio should tell others about your expertise, what it is that you do, how you can help them, and some other key hobbies or fun things that you would like to share. Add keywords to your Bio, as these can be searched upon. Remember, it is all about trying to stand out from others. You will also want to add your website details. Make sure that you turn the ‘protect my updates’ off. If you protect your updates, only people that you personally want to follow you will be allowed. You will also want to set up the tab – ‘devices’. This allows you to update your twitter account from your PC and your mobile phone, and tells Twitter how you want to receive the updates. The other tabs are to change the background of your twitter profile, and change the way that Twitter send you email messages.
You are now ready to start Tweeting. You are now ready to start sending updates from either your Twitter home page, or from your mobile phone. From your home page, you simply type in your messages. Remember that you can only use 140 characters. Then hit the ‘update’ tab. You have just sent your first ‘tweet’.
What to Tweet about… Tweets should be broken down into 3 categories… 1. Social chit chat – this is where you describe what you are doing throughout the day, sharing news and things that are more of a personal nature. This does not mean that you have to give away your inside leg measurement. Only tweet about what you are comfortable with. Also try and ask others what they are up to, and get a conversation going.
2. Sharing of.. information, ideas, resources, tools, websites, news, etc… The information that you share can be some of your own material, and some that you have found. Later on in this eBook, I talk about retweeting other people’s information. This is really important. If you hear something that you think is of interest to others, then tweet it out.. 3. Demonstrating your knowledge & expertise, by answering questions, and becoming known as the go to person on a particular topic, and a great resource. This is your chance, to really shine. This however will take time, but investing in building your brand will benefit you in the long term. The percentage mix of the tweets will depend on you, if you are famous then just telling people about your day, is interesting, if you are not famous, then this will become boring after a while, whilst equally demonstrating your knowledge all the time will also become tedious and boring… the name of the game is to mix it up, and have fun.
So How Do I Start Following People..
One of the tabs at the top of the home page is called ‘find people’. Simply press that, and you will get a choices screen as seen above. If you know that they are on Twitter, then you simply need to know their Twitter username. Click on ‘find on Twitter’ type in their user name and Twitter should find them. Once found, simply click on their photo, and you will be taken to their profile. Once their, under their photo will be a tab called ‘follow me’. Click that, you are now following them. What does following mean? It means that when that person sends out an update, you will also receive it. So you can follow all their messages. If they are following you as well, when you send out an update, they will receive it. You will also notice down the right hand side of the home page, direct messages and @your user name messages tabs. You can only send and receive a direct message through Twitter if you are following each other. If you are not, then you can send a @reply message. The difference, is that a DM (direct message) will only be seen by that person, a @reply will be seen by them, and anyone else that follows both of you.
Stop Chasing Followers, Start Chasing Conversations. When people join Twitter, one of the first things they are often encouraged to do, is to get thousands of followers as soon as is humanly possible. To achieve this, many resort to using all types of automated software. The reality, is that followers gained via this method, whether it is on some sort of auto pilot, or just simply manually clicking on the follow button on new people is pretty much a total waste of time. What you want are people that are listening to you, people that will act on your messages, will engage with you, support you, help you and so on. People that are simply playing the numbers game are wasting their time in my opinion, as no one is listening to them. So my advice is to stop chasing followers. I am not however saying donâ€™t have followers. It is important to have a good following. But what you want as I have mentioned above is listeners. This can pretty much all be summed up by the following. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Commitment Consistency Be Interesting Be Interested
Commitment What does this mean? It means if you are going to have a Twitter account, then do it properly. You would not open a shop and leave the window empty. So donâ€™t do it with Twitter. Make sure that the profile is completed as best as you can. Add a top photo, and great Bio, your website URL and start tweeting. Consistency This is all about showing up on a regular basis. Whatever time you have available, is what it is. But you will get far more benefit from Twitter by doing little bits often, than by doing a massive amount one day, and then nothing for weeks. The key is to be as effective with your time as possible. Be Interesting People ask me all the time, Mark, how can I get more followers. My answer always includes, be more interesting. When sending out a tweet, think about how it could be more interesting. How it could engage people more, how it could be humorous. The more interesting you can be, the more people will search you out and want to follow you.
Be Interested And finally, to get more followers, be interested in others. When you see conversations that you can help with, then help, where you see conversations, where you can add value, then add value, show an interest in what others are doing, and where they are going. When tweeting, instead if just saying what you are doing, ask others what they are up to as well. How to engage with People.. When you find a conversation where you have the solution to the peopleâ€™s problem or issue, it will be very tempting to simply try and go for the kill. This is a mistake. At this stage you do not know each other, and people really donâ€™t like to be sold to. So do not sell anything. The way to do things, is to simply offer help or support. This may be in the form of simply answering the questions, which demonstrates your expertise and knowledge, and helps to build you brand or to have the answers pre done on your blog site. So for example, I get a lot of people asking me the same questions about Twitter. I have simply added those answers as blog posts. I then drive people to read the answers on my blog. That is partly how I achieve almost 30% of my website traffic from Twitter. Invite questions One of the other ways to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge is to invite questions from your followers and others. You may do a daily or weekly clinic where you ask people to message you with any questions relating to your chosen area of expertise. Again this will take some time to get established. Turning up once and then not doing it again for months will not attract much. But over time, you will be seen as the go to person on that particular topic, thus building your brand reputation.
How to Leverage your Network One of the greatest ways to get more followers, build up your brand and your reputation, is by leveraging yours and others people’s networks. You do this by the power of the retweet. A retweet, is where you see an update from someone that has information that you want to share with your followers. There is great value in getting as many retweets as possible, as this is one way of getting more website traffic, and more people to follow you, as your message is exposed to a completely new audience. To do a Retweet ( RT) simply take a message that you want to share with your followers, and add the letters ‘RT’ and then a space, and then the @ symbol and then the persons Twitter user name. So that it ends up looking like this…..
You then send that message out to your followers. There are however some golden rules with what you retweet to your followers, and how to get more retweets yourself. If you are using Twitter.com to send your updates, then simply copy and paste their message, and add the RT @twitter user name and then the message, and then send. What you retweet 1. Always check the link first. Is it something that you or your brand would be proud of forwarding to all of your followers 2. Add a personal validation to the message. This demonstrates that you have taken the time to look at the link first, and over time will help to build your credibility
How to get more retweets 1. To get more chance of a retweet use a max of 120 characters. In this way people will not have to edit the message before retweeting. 2. The straight forward headline: Simple to the point & add link --->> sign up to my newsletter + url link 3. The lists approach: 5 top ways to do this or that.. 10 top tips to find this etc... people love lists...+ add URL link 4. The breaking news headline. Have you just launched something? rebranded something? found a story that is breaking? + URL 5. The find out headline. This is where you write a post, telling people where they can find the answer + url 6. The how to headline. Write a post telling people how to do something + url link to site How to get your messages seen by a wider audience One of the ways to get more followers, is to get your messages seen by a wider audience. One of the ways of doing this, is to use the #hashtag symbol where appropriate and relevant. So What is the #hashtag used for? The #symbol placed before a word, helps people to find that term when searching for it. So it is ideal for events, meetings, specific situations, conferences, whereby you want all the responses tweets, updates, all to appear in the same search. People often create their own term for the event, and then request that all those attending, tweet using the #symbol of that event in their updates. There is also the fact that one of the key things that people are always looking out for is ‘what is currently trending’. This is when large volume of people are all tweeting about the same topic, whilst often utilising the #symbol for that event.. Search.twitter.com This is Twitter’s on search engine. It is an excellent way to see what people are talking about right now.
So who could this information be useful to? The ability to see in real time, what real people are talking about, offers many opportunities for both brands and individuals. Why suddenly would everyone be tweeting on a chosen topic? Has something just happened, that is causing a massive stir? Is there some breaking news story that people are beginning to talk about? To a journalist, or a reporter, a brand manager, or those simply inquisitive on what ‘is happening right now’ Twitter offers a real gold mine of information. It can also be used just for fun. If you have a hot topic, something amusing, then start a #hashtag word, and then start tweeting about it, and what you are doing.. Some will carry it on.. So How Do I set One up? There are no real rules regarding #hashtags, but there is a common sense approach to take. I would suggest that you don’t tweet every message including a #hashtag symbol. Keep them for specific events, meetings, when answering questions etc.. You will need to use an acronym for the event. Make it as short as you can, but try and make it fairly obvious what it is being used for eg #startrek, #F1, #starbucks etc. You then simply add that into your tweet. Publicise everywhere you can, that you are using a certain #hashtag, and remind people to use it whenever appropriate when tweeting about the event, conference, meeting, topic etc… Get involved The idea then is when you can, either get involved with a topic that is trending which could be for fun, or could be because you provide a possible solution to the issue or problem. Or simply use a #hashtag when answering a question, so that you answers all appear in the same search place, again which will encourage more people to start following you. As an example, when relevant, I use the #twitterhelp. This then means when others are searching on Twitter search, a lot of my answers are there in one place.
So where are the Conversations?
I know that there are many different applications to search things via Twitter, but I am going to highlight just one. That is Twitterâ€™s own search engine called http://search.twitter.com. This to me is where everyone should be spending most of their time. This is where the action, this is where you will findâ€Ś.
So you need to head over there, and start to place in the search box, those search terms where you have the solution. Try and think about what people may be saying where you have the answer. These will be potential customers for you. They have a need, and want that need to be sorted out as soon as possible. To me, it does not get any better than that. This is the gold mine, this is where the true value of Twitter lies. Not in the website, or telling people about what you may have eaten for lunch, but in the ability to search on your keywords. This is totally different to searching via Google, and in my mind much better. However as mentioned before, there are then unwritten rules on how to engage with people once you have found them. To repeat.. Do not try to sell to them.
Measuring the results Before you start on Twitter, I think that you need to have several things in mind. Why are you joining?, what do you hope to gain from being on Twitter? how will you measure any success? And finally what will success look like? The answer many give to why are they on Twitter, is that everyone else is. This is not a very good response. There is little value in being on Twitter, just because others are. Very little will happen just because you have an account. It is the doing, and action that will bring with it the chances of success. The reasons you may have thought through are, to build you brand, to have another way to communicate with your audience, to get customer feedback, for research, to find new suppliers, to locate people to collaborate with, to find new friends, and so on.. each one is valid.. Then once you have established why you are on Twitter, you need to have a way to measure things. The easiest things to measure are website traffic, newsletter sign ups, actual sales etcâ€Ś I have personally used Google analytics to measure website traffic. It is a free service from Google. It will show you where your traffic is coming from. You can also measure how many of the links that you use in your tweets are clicked on. Bit.ly is another free service that helps you with that.
So to Recap Twitter is not get rich quick. You will achieve very little by just having an account. It takes time, effort and commitment to stand a chance of success on Twitter. However, if you are prepared to spend some time on Twitter each day, finding people and conversations where you can add value, then things may well happen for you. Twitter at the end of the day is ‘just another tool’ and one that has its own rules and etiquette. For the people who complain that Twitter is rubbish, or just does not work for them, I would argue, that it is the way they are using ‘the tool’ rather than the ‘tool’ itself. The real value of Twitter is in the ability to search for real people talking about real stuff, right now and in real time. This offers individuals, businesses, brands the real opportunity to stop talking at customers and start talking with customers. A subtle but huge difference.
As mentioned at the beginning, I have not highlighted many of the essential applications that should be used to really get the most from Twitter. There are plenty of websites and books that do that. I wanted this eBook to simply highlight the ‘why’ should your business be on Twitter in the first place, and how it may benefit from doing so. I also believe that the 3rd party applications will come and go, new ones will be developed, Twitter itself will bring out new ways to do things, which renders many books out of date very quickly.. This eBook is not about those 3rd party applications. It is about the ‘why’ of Twitter, and how to be more effective with the time and effort that you have available. I hope that I have achieved that. Please feel free to message me, or follow me at the following addresses. You can also check out my website, which is brimming with top Twitter information http://www.markshaw.biz firstname.lastname@example.org http://twitter.com/markshaw
Published on Feb 7, 2010