How to Really Use Twitter (and not annoy your followers)

Twitter BirdAt Last: A Twitter Handbook!
Thanks to the great folks at HubSpot, here, for your hot little hands, is “How to Use Twitter for Business: A Beginner’s Guide.” This 25-page illustrated PDF (attached) has all the tips and tricks you need to know to market your company or nonprofit organization effectively on Twitter. Yes, that includes those hard-to-master Twitter commands! With this guide, we are all going to become Twitter Samurai! ) Woo hoo!

Helpful Hints on What (and What Not) To Tweet
Check out page 14 for ideas on what to tweet about, including what you’re reading, links to a cool video, blog posts, or helpful articles.

How Personal Should You Be on Twitter?

Note: there is nothing on that list about your posting about your favorite cheese.  Unless you manufacture cheese, please don’t tweet about it to your umpteen followers on Twitter.  Or if you must tweet about your favorite cheese or what not, at least DM (that’s direct mail) only the individual followers who share your passion for all things cheesy.

Page 19 explains how to do this.  Say you want to ask me to go to the movies with you (how sweet! what time?).  Don’t tell all my followers. Like THEY care about my social life! As if!  Instead, go to my profile, fletcherprince.  Click the “message” link on the right hand side of my profile.  Or, from your Twitter message box, tweet “D fletcherprince do you want to go to the movies? My treat!”

Okay, I am just kidding about the movies.  But you see my point.  The only caveat I would say is that just be aware that Tweets–even DM tweets–are not the same as email–and they may be public and they may be searchable.  Okay, Twitter says they’re private but it’s conceivable that they could become public.  Mostly from user error.  So, think before you tweet.

Be Mindful of Your Community
Hopefully, this Guide (and my post) will cause people to stop replying to individual people publicly, which is a personal pet peeve of mine.  You see, as page 4 of the Guide explains, there are three ways to communicate on Twitter:

1) You can send a short message to your followers publicly (GOOD)

2) You can send a short message to one person publicly (ANNOYING)

3) You can send a short message to a specific person privately (GOOD)

Now, I can see using option (2) if you are sending birthday wishes or congratulations, because that may be of general interest to the community you have created online.

However, what happens more often than not, is that people create these extended threads of conversations that are really better suited for offline or direct message.  And they are very hard to follow, because you only see one part of the thread, and they take up a lot of space in your account (thereby sometimes causing you to miss group announcements you WANTED to see) and not always of interest to the group.
Post Your Personality on Facebook; Use Twitter for Marketing
When I want to microblog about something personal, say something cute my child said that day, I post it on my Facebook account, where it will be read by a select group of “friends” to whom I feel comfortable divulging my personal information. That’s because those updates are not searchable on the Web. But Tweets are.  Oh, yes.  Everything you tweet is out there, friends, and it has your name on it.

When I want to post business-related content that raises the profile of me as a marketing professional, or that enhances the image of Fletcher Prince, I post those updates on Twitter.   Those updates automatically post to my Facebook page, as well, because a lot of my Facebook friends happen to be marketing and public relations professionals. As mentioned on page 18 of the Guide (my favorite tip), “Make your tweets useful resources so people need you.”

A LOT of people disagree with this.  They say the whole point of social media is to create this personal side of you and engage with people, and because of that, your followers will actually CARE what you had for dinner and if you worked out that night, and ultimately, it creates a more well-rounded picture of who you really are and engenders trust for building fantastic business relationships.  Those are the same people who hog my Twitter stream with an inane log of their entire day, obliterating the useful Tweets and links from people who I really want to hear from.

I say, baloney on them.

Friends are friends.  You know, you have lunch with them.  You tell them things.  Things you would not talk about at work.  Twitter is not a place to be friends.  Twitter is more like an office.

There are people on Twitter that post banalities you would not tell your best friend.  Compulsively.  Endlessly.   Let me ask you, would you call your best friend specifically to tell them what you were cooking for dinner several times a week?  Or would you drop everything and text ALL your friends that you really needed an iced coffee to stay awake for your meeting?  No.  You would not. Perhaps you would mention it casually in the course of a friendly conversation, but you would not phone or text your friends with the express purpose of mentioning this.  Why tweet it?

Differentiate Your Twitter Accounts (Hint: Just create ones for each purpose)
As with every marketing approach, Twitter works best as niche marketing vehicle.  Approach your Twitter account as a brand, even if you tweet for personal use.  Do you have two or more passions that are different?  Say public relations and model railroading?  Then, if you feel compelled to tweet about those topics, you need two different Twitter accounts, because you’re going to have two different bases of followers.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on May 13, 2009, in Twitter Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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