Posted by: brandextenders | September 10, 2010

Sing Like A Canary. 5 Things To Know About Twitter

In old gangster movies there was always a snitch; someone willing to give up his friends to save his own skin. Often they would say this snitch “sang like a canary” when he spewed out the information that would doom his gangster buddies.

 In a lot of ways Twitter is kind of like that snitch in that it’s hard to keep anything secret anymore. Twitter is the go to place if you want to find out what’s happening right this moment somewhere around the world. People have been known to tweet from natural disasters, riots, political rallies and a myriad of other goings-on from most anywhere on earth.

 On a more practical basis, Twitter is a place where information is exchanged on topics from A to Z including P for Promotional Products. Although the number of suppliers and distributors jumping onto Twitter is increasing every day it’s still a very small percentage of our industry. For us early adaptors that’s good news because it means fewer competitors vying for those Twitter users who may be our potential customers.

 If you aren’t already using Twitter this is not a blog to teach you how to do that. My goal is simply to give those of us already dabbling in the medium a few guidelines to consider as you move forward.

  1. First and foremost, as with most any effort, you need to have a goal in mind. What do you hope to achieve using Twitter and in what kind of timeframe will you achieve it? Will you base success on the number of followers you have (not a good idea) or will you put a monetary value on it? You need to decide what you hope to gain from the time you invest in “tweeting.”
  2. Don’t constantly pitch your products. I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but Twitter users are not your average bear. Although only 7% of Americans are using Twitter that’s 17 million people and those users tend to have an above average income and education. As a result, Twitter users tend to have much less tolerance for those out to pitch their products. Educate, Engage & Entertain are the three big E’s when it comes to tweeting. You must provide value for your followers which can be offering interesting facts, links to appropriate information, solutions to a problem or other content which gives others a reason to follow you. Once your followers trust you it will be easier to start engaging them with occasional product offers and solutions.
  3. Be serious about Twitter or don’t waste your time. There’s a term I love which is, “it’s like drinking water from an open fire hydrant.” When you first get on Twitter it can be overwhelming the amount of information that flows through on literally a second-by-second basis. Like a car entering the freeway you’ll learn over time how to enter that stream of information and be a part of it just like the flow of traffic on a busy highway. How many times should you tweet per day really goes back to Point #1 and what your goals are. One daily tweet probably won’t do it, but 35 a day might be too much. I started with 20 – 22 daily tweets and have settled on 12 – 14 a day which seems to be about right for what I’m looking to achieve.
  4. Use an application to help you pre-set tweets and monitor the activity on your site. I have tried several different “dashboards” and have settled on Hootsuite as a way to set up tweets in advance, monitor a variety of accounts and have all the information I need in one location. When I started I would literally tweet something every half hour, but quickly learned that was not an efficient use of my time. With Hootsuite I can set up a whole day or more of tweets in advance so even though I’m off on appointments my tweets are joining the information stream in a timely manner.
  5. Pick a niche and stick with it. You will have a persona on Twitter whether you want one or not and people who choose to follow you will do so because of what you offer. Decide if you want to be known as a promotional products person, a biking expert, sales guru, marketing maven or cooking connoisseur and stick with it. That doesn’t mean you can’t go outside that area of expertise from time-to-time, but to create a personal brand online people need to know what you are all about.  

 I’ve learned so much from Twitter and can only hope my contributions add value to my follower’s lives. If you’re tweeting let me know so I can follow you and you can find me there @stevewoodburn.

 With 24 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at: stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com

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