Unlocking Twitter: Tips for Successful Microblogging

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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If you haven’t figured out Twitter or other social networking platforms' utility for business, you’re not alone. Twitter’s microblogging is a good way to connect with customers and your community. Here are a few tips for getting into the Twitter conversation.

Have you tried Twitter and just don’t get it? You’re not alone.

Social networking evangelists praise the microblogging service as a great means for connecting with customers and getting feedback on products and services. The free service has attracted scores of media personalities, athletes and celebrities. Even President Obama (or his staff) uses Twitter. And recently Salesforce.com announced it will integrate Twitter into a version of its cloud-based CRM application to give users direct feedback from customers.

Despite the praise and endorsements, many businesses have yet to unlock Twitter’s power—assuming it exists at all.

Twitter’s basic framework is the opening of unidirectional communications that happen in bursts. Each post is limited to 140 characters per post, compelling users to keep their messages concise and to the point. What has evolved though is users posting TinyURLs that point readers back to their Websites for deeper explanations of their often cryptic microblogs.

While this sounds like a winning recipe, many business users and solution providers Channel Insider has spoken with say they’ve had limited success with Twitter, Facebook or MySpace when it comes to connecting with the market and building communities. Even the professional-oriented LinkedIn is more about swapping information about jobs than commerce, they say.

Capitalizing on the Twitter phenomenon takes time, persistence and strategy. Based on conversations with Twitter users and information gathered from various social networking posts, here are a few tips for getting the most out of Twitter:

1) Be Authentic: The magic of social networking is honest and open communications. Don’t try too hard to present yourself in the best, most flattering light. Authenticity helps build audience affinity.

2)  Mix Business with Pleasure: Not everything has to be about business, products or services. Social networking is often about sharing information and insights. The community appreciates commentary and alerts from multiple sources about multiple topics. What you post doesn’t always have to be about your domain expertise. Go ahead and get off topic from time to time.

3) Stake a Position: Some people will say that you should be controversial to get attention. That’s not always the best strategy, since anything you say will—one way or another—reflect upon you personally and your business. A better bit of advice is to stake an opinion or position that’s based in logic, reason or personal conviction. The community doesn’t reward the middle-of-the-road statements or contrived controversy.

4) Persistence Pays: Don’t think for a moment that you can post a message to Twitter and the world will flock to your microblog doorstep. You must make Twitter posting a part of your daily routine. Set times of the day when you’ll post something, and don’t hold back from posting if something strikes your fancy. On Twitter, volume equals activity, and activity gets attention.

These are just a few tips for capitalizing on the Twitter. While the Twitter phenomenon is likely short-lived, solution providers would be unwise to ignore it. Twitter is a good way to make your business’s presence known in the social networking world and promote personal brands. Use it while it’s still hot.


Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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