Making Sense of Twitter

Setting up Twitter is a breeze save for the fact that your preferred name is no longer available or is too long.

[Tip: if you are thinking of scaling your Twitter efforts, then go grab all the possible permutations of your name. You will see that even with major brands they have names that are inconsistent.]

Once you have opened your account, spend some time on:

  1. The description of who you are or what you do. Don’t make it too clever – you will confuse your followers;
  2. Make sure that your brand or your personal picture is fit for purpose;
  3. Make sure that you look at the picture on the dashboards like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. When you have a busy feed, you will find that you will be looking out for the avatar as much as the name;
  4. You should figure out if the Twitter background mirrors your brand or persona. I have changed mine 3 times in the last month and am still not sure that it is right. Once I get my branding sorted (which I am in the process of dealing with) then I will upload a more consistent and self-styled background;
  5. If you do Tweet in a firm name, I would look at @Delloutlet who show who is behind the feed and consider if you should do the same. I don’t want to engage with ‘blob’ brand but a person;
  6. Make sure that you spend at least 2 but ideally 4 weeks listening on Twitter before you jump in. Look at what your competitors are doing as well as those people that you hope to connect with. I would suggest that you use a Dashboard and a set of searches to make sure that you don’t flit around all the time. Better still use something like Social Mention or;
  7. Have some objectives in place before you start. What are the 3 things that you want to achieve in the next 3-6 months;
  8. Work out a strategy that enables you to spend meaningful time on Twitter;
  9. Importantly, work out the tone, sentiment and content of your Tweets. Look at your communications or marketing plan over the course of the next 3-6 months (even if it is in your head) and work out how you can co-ordinate Twitter with your timeline.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of issues that you have to deal with. Chief for me is to pursue a policy of engagement, dialogue, thought leadership, sharing quality content and going off-line to network.

My conversation is tuned into my sector and I don’t tend to stray too far away from my messaging. I know this sounds contrived but my clients are largely in the legal space and therefore I don’t see the need to talk about some of my other passions like personal development and poetry (not yet anyway).

If you only have 1 Twitter feed consider if it is apposite to cover all the areas of the practice. It is unlikely to be fit for purpose if, for instance, you are trying to jumble up client service, communications, PR, business development and news. And then there is the dilemma of covering a number of practice areas. Can a generic feed cover all your practice areas? Me, I would take a vertical market approach.

Don’t underestimate the importance of Twitter to your brand. You will see how it has crept in across more and more social media platforms for log in and syndication purposes.

It is no longer just a case of going on and using that for all your firm needs. Go grab a dashboard like Hootsuite, Seesmic or Tweetdeck. Load up some tools like Friend or Follow, Twitterfall or Manage Flitter.

You also need to consider the important message of Tom Peters when he says that the calendar never lies. In other words if Twitter or social media is a priority then the time booked out in your calendar should reflect this.

If you don’t succeed then it is most likely because it hasn’t been given the time it deserves.

Finally, if you really want to make Twitter a success then your content and to a lesser extent your conversation is the only thing that is going to make a meaningful difference.

Lots of Tweets will not make up for shabby or non-existent content or your website of your nascent blog.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~


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