Not really sure about Twitter?
You are certainly not alone. According to 2009 LinkedIn Harris poll, to the question "Thinking about Twitter, what is your closest opinion?" 69% of the consumers in the poll responded "I do not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion."
Yet, even by 2009, Twitter had made an impact on the world. One of the most memorable events occurred in April 2008 when James Buck, a University of California at Berkley graduate student, was arrested while photographing an anti-government protest in Egypt. Buck managed to send a quick tweet from his Twitter account that consistent of a single word: arrested.
His followers contacted the University, the American Embassy as well as media organizations, who together put pressure on Egyptian authorities. The next day Buck sent yet another one-word tweet: freed.
Now the tweets you send about your organization may not be as dramatic as those from Buck, but with help from Heather Mansfield, author of Social Media for Social Good , here are six Twitter best practices to follow:
1. Find Your Voice – Have Personality and Build Community. Sure, it's fine and helpful to your followers to push out content about yourself, like information about road closures, detours and the current number of parking spaces, but the best Twitter voices have character and are friendly. These voices share opinions and contribute to discussions. Send out a wide variety of content, including photos and videos. Certainly resist the temptation to automate your tweets or direct messages. Inspirational quotes and powerful statistics have high tweet (and retweet) appeal.
2. Track Your Links. Use a third-party app such as Google URL Shortener, Bit.ly or Owl.ly to track your links. Not only do these free tools shrink long links, allowing you more characters for tweeting, but they also provide useful statistics on how many people clicked on your links. Twitterers who do not track their links are simply tweeting blind. Your number one job in the successful use of social media is to find out what kind of content your followers want and to provide more of it to them.
3. Do not Tweet Only Your Content. Mix it up ! Tweet articles or blog posts from your favorite newspapers, bloggers and partner organizations. An insurance agent I know will syndicate a local sports team or ask followers where they will be going on vacation or if they will be attending the county fair. With social media, engagement (and not one-way communication) is the key.
4. Retweet and Reply Often. Follow the Golden Rule. The more your organization promotes others through retweets and replies, the more your business will get retweeted and mentioned. This is one of the fastest ways to grow your follower base.
5. Follow on a 1: 1 Ratio. If you have 1,000 followers then you should be following 1,000 Tweets in return. Why? Four reasons:
a. You're likely to get more followers if people see that you follow in return.
b. People can not direct message you if you are not following them.
c. People are less likely to mention or retweet you if they think you'll never retweet or mention them.
d. People will get an email saying that your organization is now following them.
6. How often should you tweet? The lifespan of a tweet is about 90 minutes. Most people only browse their tweets in real time. Tweet 4 to 6 times a day and space your tweets throughout the day. Twitter is most active from 9 am to noon.
To learn more about how to use Twitter to promote your organization, visit business.twitter.com .
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