Curing Tweeter’s Block

Twitter Writers Block

Twitter Writers Block

I read an article earlier this week which demonstrated that 44% of Twitter users have never sent a tweet.  That number really surprised me, even taking into account the number of spambots – I was amazed at how high it was, so I asked some questions from a small and completely unrepresentative sample in my office: and while I didn’t get 44%, a lot of people said they were overwhelmed with Twitter and were paralysed by the scale of it.

So, I thought I should give you 10 things that you can tweet about very quickly and easily, none of which include what meal you’re having right now:

1) News article – There is so much news content around that sharing these articles is a great way to get started.  Don’t just share the article though, add what you think about it – that way, you are starting a conversation

2) Check out what’s trending – Taking a look through what’s trending and sharing your thoughts on the most popular subjects on Twitter at that moment – it’s likely that lots of people will be following the hash-tag or subject like you are, so it’s a great way to get interacting

3) Watch TV – Second-screening is huge in 2014 – more and more people are watching TV and jumping on their smart phone or tablet and sharing their thoughts on Twitter – there is some really hilarious content being shared here!

4) Answer, or ask, a question – Making sure that you follow some interesting people will mean that there are lots of questions being asked, so why not answer one?  Or, if you have good sized audience following you (or you are contributing to a popular hashtag), why not ask a question?  Again, you’re getting the conversation started

5) Share a video – The way that Twitter visually shows video shares has improved dramatically over the last year.  Videos that are shared look great, and are a great way of sharing interesting content in less than 140 characters – especially as on desktop, you can search a keyword’s videos.

6) Share a picture – Just like videos, pictures look great on Twitter – so don’t just keep your pictures to your Instagram or Pinterest feed, share them on Twitter too.  It’s also a fantastic way of getting your content noticed, as tweets with pictures take up more real estate than a regular tweet.

7) Shout out a recommendation – Been impressed with a product or service recently?  Why not share some of the love by giving the brand a shout-out on Twitter?  Most major brands have an account, although not all of them will respond to you!

8) Retweet a great content – If you see a great tweet, share it by clicking retweet.  Receiving a retweet is a great feeling, so show your appreciation!

9) Write your own content – If you can’t find anything that you would like to share (or even if you can), why not create your own content?  Have a think about what you have learned this week and write a couple of hundred words about it.  Then, you can share the link on Twitter – congratulations, you are a blogger!

10) Trivia – Trivia, or pithy quotes are very popular on Twitter.  Many people start the day with one (e.g. on a Monday morning to cheer their followers up!), but they are pretty easy to find in the offline or online world, and super easy to share.

Hope that this gets you off the mark if you are one of 44%!  You have no excuse – start tweeting!

How not to get more Twitter followers

Don't Buy Twitter Followers

Don't Buy Twitter Followers

Twitter is such a wide network with so many messages being sent every second (over 6,000 and increasing), that getting your voice heard and building an audience can seem daunting tasks.  There are lots of articles on the web about what you should do to get more Twitter followers, but there aren’t many warning people about what you shouldn’t do – so here are 5 traps which you need to avoid….but traps which you will see many people fall into every day.

Buy them – The whole point of building a Twitter audience is that there are real people out there listening to your messages and interacting with them.  However, some people who ‘don’t get’ social will see the number of followers as a vanity metric – often CEOs (or UK Prime Ministers) who want as big a number as possible.  It is better to have a small number of engaged followers than thousands of spam-bot followers.  The only exception to buying is through Twitter advertising….

Sell all the time – This is a great way to show that you don’t understand Twitter.  Using Twitter as a platform for selling is far more subtle than shouting out your message all the time.  You are there to create engaging content, and that means varying it – by all means try and sell your product, but don’t forget to post other content too (e.g. about the industry, interesting non-work related content, etc.).

Treat Twitter as a one-way channel – Just sending tweets out without responding to other Twitter users can be off-putting to potential followers.  There are hundreds of millions of Twitter users out there, so there is no excuse not to interact.  Even if it is just saying thanks for sharing an article, or to add your opinion to an article that you’re sharing, you are starting an interaction.

Don’t follow anyone – Some people see the following / follower ratio as very important.  So, the temptation is not to follow people in the hope that you will get more followers than following.  But I find the people that I follow a great source of news and content.  I do follow a lot of people, but organise them into Twitter lists to span all of my areas of interest.  You can only implement this rule if you are a celebrity!

Post infrequently without a plan – The most common trap!  Before you even get started on Twitter, you should have an idea of the sort of content that you would like to share.  And you should also commit to your Twitter account – I tweet around 5 times a day but in an ideal world, I would tweet twice as often as that.  So, set yourself a minimum daily tweet level and stick to it.

Do you have any tips on how not to get thousands of Twitter followers that you would like to share?

Image via marketing-mojo.com

How to avoid social media mistakes

Social Media fails

I saw some research earlier this week which showed that 18-39 year olds are more forgiving of brands, and I wondered if this was a result of social media – after all, it’s very easy to quickly make a mistake on social media, so today’s consumers need to be a little more pragmatic.

However, the same mistakes keep happening on social media.  Here are some of the more popular ones and how to avoid them:

Poorly timed Q&As:

  • Issue: JP Morgan’s ultra-optimistic #askJPM session attracted 8k responses, virtually none of which were constructive – the Twittersphere decided to take JPM to task for its part in the banking crisis of 2008
  • Solution: Ensure you get the timing right – it should follow some good news, not a PR catastrophe (British Gas held a Q&A the day after announcing a 10% price rise).  Also, it needs to be monitored closely by a team of people (not just those answering the questions), and have the relevant stakeholders to hand to answer any curve-balls

Scheduled Problems:

  • Issue: Marketing automation is a great help in social where the tasks can feel overwhelming.  However, Tesco had an issue with a tweet sent in the midst of the horse-meat scandal (“It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”).  They took out full page adverts in national papers to apologise.
  • Solution: Check all of your scheduled tweets the morning that they are due to land – in many industries, things can change overnight, so make sure your post is still appropriate

Changing Passwords:

  • Issue: In January 2013, HMV made 190 staff redundant with immediate effect…including someone with access to the Twitter account.  So they live tweeted from the meeting, ending in the legendary “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks!) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?”
  • Solution: It’s a really simple one here – firstly, change your passwords regularly and only share them with the core people who need to know.  And if someone leaves, make sure that you change the password and revoke access to any social media and content management systems.

Keep your views to yourself:

  • Issue: In 2012, Chick-Fil-A got into hot water after the company’s founder spoke out against same-sex marriages – cue the Facebook page being flooded about non-clucking content.  However, what they did next was probably the biggest error of judgement in this article: it was accused of creating a fake Facebook which defended the company’s position.  While Chick-Fil-A deny that they created the account, the damage was done.
  • Solution: You need to really think before you post.  It is easy to react quickly to a critical post, but you should take a deep breath and remember that you are talking to a group of potential customers – treat them as you would in the off-line world.

And if you do have a problem, admit it, hold your hands up and say sorry – mistakes will happen, but trying to cover them up in a world of transparent communications will rarely work.  What are your favourite social media howlers and what can we learn from them?

Image via dashburst.com

Twitter Advertising

Oscars Selfie

Oscars Selfie

Every week you will hear about the staggering statistics around Twitter. Around 500 million tweets per day, and only this week saw the most retweeted tweet ever – Ellen DeGenrers’ selfie which received more than 2 million retweets by the end of the ceremony.

All of this information will make marketers feel excited – what a huge audience and engagement, quickly followed by a feeling of doom – how on earth am I supposed to get my message heard in all of that noise?!

There is no substitution for doing the right thing (e.g. Interaction, engagement, quality content, entertaining, etc.), but with all of the noise, you may choose to promote yourself on Twitter – after all, you are probably spending money on PPC to support your SEO strategy.

So, what are your options when embarking on a Twitter advertising campaign?

You can choose from three options:

1) Promoted Tweets – you can promote an actual tweet which may say something about your company or what you offer. This will appear at the top of people’s news feed

2) Promoted Account – you can promote your account as a whole too. Your Twitter account will appear in the ‘Who to Follow’ box, and you will soon be able to insert some ad copy to enable you to promote your account further

3) Promoted Trend – if your MD has dreamt about trending, then this is their opportunity to promote the hashtag which will drive people to your content – however, hashtags do come with a health warning, they can be hijacked, just ask McDonald’s

As you would expect from such a huge network, the options for targeting are impressive. You can target by geography, interest, user name, device or gender. And you can set your budget with an upper limit, so it shouldn’t break the bank. And the analytics that come with Twitter advertising are impressive, so varying degrees of conversions capable of being measured.

Have you tried Twitter advertising yet? What results have you achieved? Share your story here!

Social Media Criticism

Social Media Criticism

Social Media Criticism

Social media has been embraced by a large number of organisations over the last few years, and organisations have seen this as an opportunity to engage with their audience. However, the audience may see it slightly differently – they may see social as a communication channel with which to raise issues.

So, how should you respond to criticism or negative feed-back that you receive in such a public environment as social media?

Firstly, you need to understand what type of feed-back it is, as this will determine how you should respond.

Genuine Issue Raised: if the customer is complaining about a genuine issue, then this is certainly one that you should respond to. It may be the case that the issue raised is procedural or subject to a policy which cannot be overturned, but if that is the case, tell the customer that.

Constructive Criticism: if you have ever tried writing one of these posts, you will know how long they can take to write. So, take the time to thank the customer for their thoughts and answer honestly. The feedback may not contain something that the company has not thought of before, but take the time to say thank you.

Trolling: this is where the person complaining is looking to start an argument by posting ‘bait’ to encourage a response. And that is why this is the only type of interaction that you should not respond to. Just ignore it!

And some broader tips to dealing with criticism:

Be prompt: The average time between a customer posting onto social media and the organisation getting back to them is 7 hours – what does that say about how important the customer is?! You should aim to respond as quickly as possible, even if that’s to say that we are trying to get hold of the right person and we will update you later.

Stay positive: There are a number of examples of how quickly things can escalate if your approach to criticism is defensive and confrontational – you need to stay positive, regardless of how angry the customer is.

Accept the feedback: If someone has taken the time to write to your company, then you should accept the feedback in good grace. Let the customer know that steps are being taken, and thank them for letting you know about it.

Be a human: One of the fastest ways to diffuse a situation is to answer the questions like a human being, rather than like a corporate talking head.

Twitter IPO Revisited

20131107-233935.jpg

With the Twitter IPO taking place this week, I thought I would recycle this article from January about implications of this move by this important network:

The Twitter IPO rumour mill is in full swing as we approach the end of January. The general feeling is that Q1 or Q2 2014 will see Twitter float on the Dow Jones.

The story has been gaining momentum for some months in tech circles and with good reason. Monetising is nothing new to Twitter – promoted posts / tweets / accounts are seen by Twitter users on a regular basis. So, I am going to put forward my thoughts on two key questions – will it be successful and what will the impact be on users of Twitter.

Will the IPO be successful?

Twitter has the advantage of not being the first social network to go public. Facebook’s partial floatation last year was not received well on Wall Street, but Twitter can learn from Facebook’s mistakes:

Realistic valuation – Twitter is likely to choose a much more realistic valuation than Facebook which should avoid an opening day collapse in share price and an ongoing confidence problem

Future growth levels – Facebook saw a lot of its dramatic growth in members and revenue before the floatation, but Twitter is in the middle of its financial growth boom. Its revenue is expected to triple year on year when it publishes its 2012 results, so there should still be some growth to be enjoyed by shareholders

Audience – Twitter is more of a public network than Facebook, so audience figures will be huge – but how they can segment this audience from information held in biographies, hash-tags used, etc. Get this right, and marketers will be banging the door down

Mobile – being limited to 140 characters per message means that Twitter is ideally suited to mobile, one of the key growth areas for the next decade

What will the impact be on the user?

This is probably the most important area for Twitter – if users are turned off, they will stop using it or leave, which will see revenue disappear. What could change for the user as a result of the IPO :

Advertising – the most obvious way to generate revenue for Twitter would be to place banner ads on Twitter pages. But will this be seen as invasive by the critical Twittersphere?

Paid For Service – will Twitter offer a paid for service which will allow a user to see Twitter without ads?

Obvious Marketing – At the moment, it is quite simple to avoid promoted tweets / accounts / hashtags. I would expect this to change and the promoted items will be far more prominent to drive up click through rates – I guess CTRs are very low right now, but marketers will expect more

API not free – Lots of developers around the world use Twitter to support their business. If Twitter was to charge developers for access to their API, this will see a lot of Twitter tools either become paid-for services or disappear altogether

Sell Content – Twitter may be tempted to sell user content which appears on their network. However, Instagram tried this in 2012 and the user backlash forced them to change their mind…

I think that the floatation will take place at some point in Q2 2014 – but before then, Twitter needs to get the delicate balance right between shareholder and user satisfaction.

Standing Out on Twitter

twitter-logo

twitter-logo

Earlier this week, I saw an infographic from the brilliant Melonie Dorado which showed some stats for social media in 2013.  I was particularly drawn to the Twitter stats:

  • There are 500m Twitter accounts
  • 21% of the world’s internet population use Twitter every month

Pretty impressive stats, eh?  These stats say to me that there are a lot of people on Twitter (clearly!), but also that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get your voice heard.  So, here are 5 Twitter tips to help your voice resonate.

Use Hash-tags: Hash-tags are a great way of reaching out to new audiences, and tweets with 1 or 2 hash-tags show a 21% higher engagement.  If you use a hash-tag, then it becomes much easier for people to see your content and engage with it.  However, don’t over-do it – having lots of hash-tags can make a message tough to read!

Interact: Conversations and interactions make Twitter exciting.  So, ask questions and answer them as well.  You don’t need to be connected to another Twitter user to converse with them, so use the search function to find out who else is tweeting about your chosen subject.

Make Your Content Rich:  Articles are very easy to share on Twitter, but they are not always visually engaging, particularly as most article links are shortened.  So if it is appropriate to your objective, share some broader content – pictures, videos and of course Vine, which is a great fit with the attention-shortened Twitter user.

Have a Content Plan:  Some days on Twitter there is a lot of content to comment on or discuss.  However, on some days there isn’t, so you will need to have some content of your own to spark the conversation.  You should have a rolling 2 week content plan which is flexible enough to adapt when something else takes over the Twitterverse.  This will also encourage you to look at your content frequency, i.e. the number of posts per day.

Have a Contingency Plan:  One of the beauties of Twitter is also one of its most dangerous features – its speed.  Some of the best intentioned Twitter marketing campaigns have taken a turn for the worse because a group of Twitter users have ‘hijacked’ the campaign.  Before you start your campaign, think of every angle where the campaign could go wrong and plan your response.

I am sure that you have some great Twitter tips, so please leave a comment to share yours!

10 tips for more Twitter followers

Twitter

Twitter

People who say that measuring your Twitter followers is a vanity measure are wrong…kind of.  If the followers are completely random and not connected to you or each other, then the number of them is almost irrelevant.  However, if you can build up a targeted audience, they are a valuable group of individuals waiting to interact with you. 

If you want to increase your Twitter followers, here are 10 quick tips to get you started:

1) Reach out: Find people to follow first.  There are lots of good directories out there, I particularly like Twellow, but it’s a personal choice

2) Make the first move: Interact with this initial group of accounts that you are following – reply to questions, retweet great content and get involved in the conversation  

3) Follow hashtags: Follow hashtags of interest as well as people.  It’s a great way of interacting with people who you don’t know yet

4) Keep your topics varied: You should vary your content to make it interesting.  Often a mix of your personality, your subject and your industry is more engaging than just one topic

5) Share your profile: Share your Twitter handle – on your website, other social networks and your email signature

6) Watch the size of your tweet: To enable someone to retweet your message (which will get your post and account seen by that person’s followers), don’t use all 140 characters – leave at least enough space for them to include ‘RT @MyTwitterHandle’

7) Get your frequency right: I find that 5-7 tweets a day is enough, but experiment to find your sweet spot.  If you do too little or too much, it turns followers off

8) Be polite: If someone has helped you out by sharing your content, make sure that you say thanks – it takes seconds to do, but it’s a really nice thing to do

9) Use DM wisely: If you want to thank someone, do it publicly.  It is tempting to take your thanks onto DM, but why not share the person’s account with your followers –if yor targeting is working, your followers will be interested

10) Persevere: Often it can take some time to get your followers growing, so keep doing good things and you will start to see them grow – don’t get disheartened!  Keep doing the right thing and your followers will grow organically. 

 

Twitter IPO

Twitter IPO

Twitter IPO

The Twitter IPO rumour mill is in full swing as we approach the end of January.  The general feeling is that Q1 or Q2 2014 will see Twitter float on the Dow Jones. 

The story has been gaining momentum for some months in tech circles and with good reason.  Monetising is nothing new to Twitter – promoted posts / tweets / accounts are seen by Twitter users on a regular basis.  So, I am going to put forward my thoughts on two key questions – will it be successful and what will the impact be on users of Twitter.

Will the IPO be successful?

Twitter has the advantage of not being the first social network to go public.  Facebook’s partial floatation last year was not received well on Wall Street, but Twitter can learn from Facebook’s mistakes:

  • Realistic valuation – Twitter is likely to choose a much more realistic valuation than Facebook which should avoid an opening day collapse in share price and an ongoing confidence problem
  • Future growth levels – Facebook saw a lot of its dramatic growth in members and revenue before the floatation, but Twitter is in the middle of its financial growth boom.  Its revenue is expected to triple year on year when it publishes its 2012 results, so there should still be some growth to be enjoyed by shareholders
  • Audience – Twitter is more of a public network than Facebook, so audience figures will be huge – but how they can segment this audience from information held in biographies, hash-tags used, etc.  Get this right, and marketers will be banging the door down
  • Mobile – being limited to 140 characters per message means that Twitter is ideally suited to mobile, one of the key growth areas for the next decade

 

What will the impact be on the user?

This is probably the most important area for Twitter – if users are turned off, they will stop using it or leave, which will see revenue disappear.  What could change for the user as a result of the IPO :

  • Advertising – the most obvious way to generate revenue for Twitter would be to place banner ads on Twitter pages.  But will this be seen as invasive by the critical Twittersphere?
  • Paid For Service – will Twitter offer a paid for service which will allow a user to see Twitter without ads? 
  • Obvious Marketing – At the moment, it is quite simple to avoid promoted tweets / accounts / hashtags.  I would expect this to change and the promoted items will be far more prominent to drive up click through rates – I guess CTRs are very low right now, but marketers will expect more
  • API not free – Lots of developers around the world use Twitter to support their business.  If Twitter was to charge developers for access to their API, this will see a lot of Twitter tools either become paid-for services or disappear altogether
  • Sell Content – Twitter may be tempted to sell user content which appears on their network.  However, Instagram tried this in 2012 and the user backlash forced them to change their mind…

I think that the floatation will take place at some point in Q2 2014 – but before then, Twitter needs to get the delicate balance right between shareholder and user satisfaction. 

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Social Media Access At Work

Social Media Access At Work

Social Media Access At Work

With the growth of social media and online social communications has come a headache for organisations – should we give our employees access to social media?

The natural fear of any board member will be that if access to social media is granted then productivity will drop through the floor as employees merrily Facebook and Twitter each other (Facebook and Twitter are now verbs, right?). That’s why around half of UK organisations refuse their employees access to social media.

Are the fears justified? Well, employees may be tempted to spend time updating their social networks, but the biggest fear in most organisations is employees talking negatively about work on social networks. The easy solution is to stop them access to it full stop.

But it might not be as simple as that. One in three adults in the UK now has a smart phone (although the data did not say how many were able to use it!). As such, there is very little stopping employees from picking up their smart phone and accessing social media while sat at their desk – and probably using the office wireless too!

And if you have a concern about employees complaining on the internet about work, then they are probably doing it anyway! Indeed, there is an example of a North West England based organisation which banned its employees from Facebook, so the employees started their own group anyway! The company was only aware when the group was accidently stumbled upon by a manager.

My opinion is that social media is such an important channel for the future that access should be granted. If you trust your employees to email and talk to customers, then why shouldn’t they be trusted with social media. It shows respect and trust in your employees and you should cover any foreseeable issues in a robust social media policy.

Ultimately, people will access social media one way or another, so legitimise it, show that you trust your employees and its one less thing for employees to complain about on social media!