From Lance Armstrong to Shaquille O’Neal (The Real Shaq), Demi Moore to Yoko Ono, Arnold Schwarzenegger to Barack Obama (and, oh, let’s not forget Oprah), it seems almost everyone who’s anyone is now using Twitter, the micro-blogging service, to reach out and touch someone in 140 characters or less.
Twitter’s hit the big time, no question, being used by a legion of celebrities to communicate with their fans. But it’s also gone mainstream, having posted 1,382% year-over-year growth in February 2009 (according to Nielsen Online via this article in MarketingVOX) and having recently reached 10 million visitors worldwide.
And, yes, more and more of those new users are marketing people like you and me.
“An overwhelming majority (88%) of marketers in a recent survey say they are now using some form of social media to market their business,” reported MarketingCharts recently, citing the Social Media Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses by Michael A. Stelzner as its source.
Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook were the top social media tools used by marketers, “with Twitter leading the pack,” according to the report.
So how many different ways are there for marketers like us to express ourselves to a mass of followers, fanatics and friends on Twitter?
Well, for starters, here’s a list of the ten types of tweets that seem to prevail on Twitter, each of which you might work into the rotation during the course of your communications on this phenomenally popular social media platform. If you can think of any others, please share them with us all here on Internet Marketing Strategies and Secrets by leaving a comment at the end of this post. Thanks.
1. News and Information. Some folks use their Twitter accounts mainly to disseminate news and information, whether it’s about their own organization or not. For instance, on the Nowspeed Twitter account, I’ll often write tweets about what I deem significant industry developments and trends. I’ll read something interesting then share it with my followers, doing them the service – at least that’s my intent — of identifying must-read stories.
2. Educational. To be successful on Twitter, you have to be generous in your sharing of knowledge and expertise. Those with the most followers are looked up to and depended on for their ability to teach and to lead, for their willingness to commit the time necessary to helping others succeed.
3. Status Updates. Let your followers know what you’re up to at the moment, whether you’re about to give a big presentation, get on a plane, buy a new book, jog a few miles or attend your child’s Little League baseball game. In describing such activities, both professional and personal, you’re helping others get acquainted with you. And more people do business with those they know and trust.
4. Random and Personal. To reveal your personality on Twitter is to be successful on Twitter. To be faithfully followed, it’s absolutely necessary. You don’t want to be predictable, formulaic or all business all the time. If you tweet outside of the box now and then, you’ll pique the curiosity of your constituency. And maybe even grow on them.
5. Questions. Any good conversationalist knows that a great way to show an interest in people is to ask questions of them. Well, as it goes with your offline relationships in the physical world, so it goes on Twitter. Ask followers to introduce themselves to you or “crowdsource” your next presentation. People love to give you their opinions, especially on Twitter.
6. Re-Tweets. This is something you can – and should – employ occasionally as a tactic on Twitter. To re-tweet is to copy and paste someone else’s tweet that you like and deem worthy of repeating, making sure to place the initials RT in front of his or her handle, such as RT @nowspeed. You’ll benefit from repurposing someone else’s good content, and they’ll be flattered that you appreciated their tweet enough to share it with your own audience.
7. Replies and Conversation. What many of those who are tweeting for the first time don’t realize is just how conversational this medium can be. Like instant messaging or an online chat room, Twitter can be used to communicate back and forth between one another. Placing the @ symbol before someone’s handle is the way to reply to him or her publicly, while a direct message, or DM, is how you would respond privately to that individual.
8. Links to Relevant Content. While it’s not necessary to share a link every time you tweet, it’s a fairly common practice on Twitter. After all, given the fact that you have just a sentence or two to get your message across, it’s only natural you would want to link to supporting material, including your own. I use Tiny URL to shorten my links, by the way, but there are many other such tools to help you perform the same task.
9. Broadcasts of Live Events. Another good service you can provide to your followers is to broadcast live from industry events that you attend. In doing so, you’re reinforcing your position as a thought leader and expert, someone who recognizes the importance of staying current and cutting edge. Like a reporter on the scene, you’re also serving as a conduit of information on behalf of the source, propagating their interesting content to those who may not have seen it otherwise. Everyone wins.
10. Promotional Messages. While Twitter can be used to toot your own horn, if you’re perceived as too self-promotional, your efforts will backfire. Like any other social media channel, Twitter should be used primarily for listening and conversation, for sharing generously with others. But that’s not to say you can’t use it for marketing and sales. Just pick your spots carefully, linking back to your own content, products and services only every so often, not all the time.
For more social media strategies, check out our webinar, “How to Build your own Blog and Social Media Marketing Strategy”