Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock with no access to the Internet, radio or television you have heard of Twitter. Of course that can’t be the case if you’re reading this, so let’s explore this crazy phenomenon and how it can help your organization.
Twitter is that annoying know-it-all, that troublesome tattle-tale and your best friend all rolled up into one. It’s a place for short blasts (140 character limit) of info or an instant notification of what you’re doing, thinking or working on. It allows you to amass a cult-like following and takes a minimal amount of time to be effective at it (unlike blogging or creating newsletters). It is searchable content and allows you to receive information from people and groups you are following as well.
But what makes it valuable to your organization? Think of it as flash marketing. It’s akin to (but not nearly as creepy) as sneaking up behind someone and whispering your name in their ear throughout the day. You are on the forefront of their mind because they see your name come across their phone or computer screen multiple times a day for free.
But how do you do it well? Or at all?
Here’s a list of a dozen things you can do with Twitter to help your organization:
- Keep consistent and post often. No need to bludgeon your adoring public with a post a minute but certainly hit it as often as you would a coffee break.
- Follow others as you want to be followed. This is #1 in the ten commandments of tweeting. Follow people in the industry who’s opinions you value and guess what? They might just link back to you. And that’s not just them linking back, that could potentially be all (or some) of their followers as well.
- Tweet about something other than yourself. Sure, you’re great, your organization’s great but what else is out there? If you’re a company selling peanut butter, mention a great new bread that has just hit the market. Post a URL to the other company’s site. Show them some interest…and you just never know what Internet karma can do for you.
- Find topics of interest. This kind of goes along with the previous tip but is more “you” focused. You will find with multiple tweets a day that you run out of content pretty quickly when your only focus is how great you are. (After all, there are a limited number of words for great.) But find things that are related to you and of some interest. For example, alumni associations might use a “This day in history” tweet and make it interactive. “This day in history the first woman was admitted to our beloved alma mater. What year was it?”
- Use Twitter for the instantaneous marketing gadget that it can be. Try hyper offers. Send out a tweet on a promo code that is good for x amount of hours only.
- Start a conversation. Monologues are boring so get out there and cultivate a dialogue or a centalogue (is that even a word?). Re-tweet your heart out. Engage others; ask questions. Be the sparking conversationalist — that you are in person — on Twitter.
- Use a software download that helps you tweet and manage tweets. (There are oh, so many: Tweetdeck, Twitterfeed, don’tbeatwit – I made that one up, but you get the idea.)
- Play away. Try this list for more fun Twitter add-ons and clients. http://mashable.com/2008/05/24/14-more-twitter-tools/
- Get lost in Twitter. There are all sorts of interesting groups and people. Whether you’re in academia or business you can find someone exploring topics of interest. Try these folks for an education. http://mashable.com/2009/02/16/twitter-professors/
- Become micro famous. Okay, so everyone’s ego can use a little boost. Go out there, push your org and see how many followers you can attract. You know you want to.
- Once you attract some followers try a micro newsletter. Remember the days of writing, designing and preparing a mailing list to send your latest corporate or organizational newsletter? And if you did it quickly and often, you sent it out MONTHLY. Now you can send a micro-newsletter – instantaneously and often! Just launched a new fundraising campaign? Tweet it. Open a new wing at the corporate headquarters? Tweet it. Promote an employee into a new position? Yep, try sharing that level of corporate or organizational info across the twitter-sphere (you might even save some time, costs and energy vs. the old printed newsletter).
- Use hash tags. These are itty, bitty versions of your name, product or other sign-off. They make searching easy and allow for abbreviated references to yourself. (For example, #ymem is a lot shorter and takes up less characters than yourmembership.com.) Just make sure that before committing to a hash tag that you search to see if others are using it. Don’t want your new tag to be affiliated with unsavory sources.
Most importantly when embracing Twitter and becoming a Twitter pro — you tweet. You don’t twitter. There’s no twittering either. Just tweeting. Birds don’t twitter and neither do you. You use twitter to tweet. Ka-peeeeeesh?
Still not convinced? It’s free. It takes minutes to tell the world about your great organization. End of story. What are you still reading for? Get out there and do it. In the time it just took you to read this sentence, you could’ve sent your first tweet.
How have you used Twitter for your org? I’d love to hear.