By Dave McAnally, Natural Search Supervisor, Content Solutions
In case you didn’t get the memo, Twitter is what you should be talking about. Everybody uses Twitter. Elizabeth Taylor uses Twitter. CNN uses Twitter. Zappos.com is a massive Twitter user. Vice President Oprah uses Twitter which means your mom and all her friends will soon be using Twitter. Companies use Twitter to reach their customers and make them feel more connected to their brand. You’ve heard this no doubt. You’ve heard how real time search is the next big thing.
Social media has always been a funny creature to me because it seems forever stuck in the sentiment that surrounded the internet in general in the late 90’s. Back then, everybody knew the web was huge. They had a website. They just didn’t know exactly what it was they were supposed to do with it. Millions were spent on websites with the idea that as long as you had a mousetrap, people would come to your door. Well those days came and went. Most companies treat their web presence like any other asset, replete with ROI factors of its own.
Thus brings us to 2009. The talking heads are tripping over themselves to talk about Twitter’s astronomical growth it’s “potential” (whatever that means in a given context), but I see very few people talking about actual tactics and methods for a company to actually use Twitter productively. Sure there are a few vague tips about “being honest” and not spamming people. Know why I think this is? It’s because the companies who are the Twitter rock stars didn’t get there as an end in and of itself. It’s the same with any emerging media. While I reserve the right to be wrong, I don’t think Sergei and Larry set out to create Google with the thought of having the largest most widely used highest market cap search engine in all the known galaxy. They simply wanted to create a better engine than what was available. The rest came naturally. Same thing with Twitter rock stars. They got to where they are because it was a natural progression.
I do notice some common characteristics of these rock stars in their humble beginnings. The following are some common things all the Twitter Rock Stars seem to be doing that could be beneficial in building a massive Twitter empire of your own.
- Follow us on Twitter – This sentence adorns their website, Facebook, MySpace, business cards, etc with a link to the twitter account. They aren’t concerned with where the conversation starts; they are concerned with facilitating the conversation to begin with…wherever it occurs.
- They follow influencers around keywords – Unless this is a celebrity, you can see that the twitter accounts that are followed tend to be vocal about specific topics that revolve around whatever it is the company/client follows. They tweet at these people a lot. Sure their followers are rife with fans and avid customers, but those don’t just fall from the sky. TNSTAAFL…period. They need an in-road to participate in this real time conversation. Identify who the movers and shakers are and engage.
- Their account has an avatar that reflects the corporate image – If you have a real live company and your Twitter page’s avatar looks like the one below, you’re doing it wrong. Double wrong if your bio is empty and doesn’t link to your homepage or to more information.
- They actually say what they need to say in 140 characters once in awhile – Sure you can link people to larger articles thanks to Tinyurl. But if you do it all the time, you’re defeating the immediacy and concise nature of Twitter now aren’t you? You’ll notice the rock stars will definitely link to things they find interesting (note THEY is the operative word there-this is key for being honest), but they get the most bang for their buck in what they can cram into the 140 characters. The crux of the tweet isn’t some reward given to readers who bother to read a 500 word linked diatribe on the matter.
- A CEO or somebody of importance tweets - Getting the upper level execs involved is good for employees as well as customers. That TNSTAAFL principle applies here.
- Perhaps this is a sub-bullet under my second point, but I think it deserves its own place. This means they actively participate in conversations with their followers. The most unique part is that they aren’t self serving conversations. There’s legitimate discourse, which of course is the rub to making any social media endeavor a success.