Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category


This blog chronicles my journey as a 23-year veteran of PR and marketing as I come to terms with social media. This is part 3 of my 3-part series on using Twitter.

Part I, 6 Steps to Embracing Twitter Successfully or Don’t Be an Egghead, talked about
• the best way to set up a Twitter account
• how to listen to the Twitter stream
• how to Tweet

Part 2, So You’re on Twitter—Now What? addressed
• how to write a good tweet
• how to retweet
• the importance of setting up notifications
• saying thank you
• favorites
• gaining followers
• hashtags
• trending topics
• common Twitter jargon
• the best time to tweet

This final instalment deals with organizing your followers, making the most of 140 characters, and the least (and most) retweetable words.

Organizing Your Tweeps (Followers) with Lists

I don’t know about you, but I follow a wide variety of people on Twitter—reporters, news outlets, PR types, bloggers, social media types, marketers, publications, politicians, people who talk about politics, people from the part of Canada where I live, funny people, and a handful of celebrities.

I follow more than a thousand tweeps, many of whom communicate for a living, so they tweet a lot. Let’s just say listening to the whole disorganized steam is overwhelming.

I’ve been looking for something to help me manage my Twitter account. I gave Tweetdeck a try, but I just couldn’t get the lists to work for me. So based on a recommendation from Memorial University marketing professor @lylewetsch, I signed up for the free version of HootSuite.

What HootSuite Does: HootSuite is a social media management system created by Ryan Holmes of Vancouver, Canada in 2008. In HootSuite, you interact with a dashboard, which allows you to manage multiple social media accounts. Currently HootSuite supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Mixi, MySpace, Ping.fm, and WordPress. Using HootSuite’s App Directory, you can also use HootSuite to manage Tumblr, Trendspottr, Constant Contact, Digg, Flickr, Get Satisfaction, InboxQ, and YouTube. While I have loaded all my social media accounts into HootSuite, so far I am only using it to manage my Twitter account.

According to Wikipedia, as of January 2012 HootSuite has over 3 million users and over 700 million messages sent. In other words, it’s popular. Amongst other things, that means there’s lots of support.

Get Going on HootSuite: Once you’ve signed up on HootSuite, you begin by creating a tab on your Hootsuite dashboard for each of your social media accounts. You’ll need to sign into each account and give HootSuite access. Within each tab, you can create 10 lists. The default Twitter lists are your Home Feed, Mentions, Direct Messages, Sent Tweets, and Your Tweets Retweeted. Besides managing your Twitter stream, you can tweet, shorten links, and schedule tweets from within HootSuite.

Personally, I’d really like to know if there’s any way to create more than 10 lists for the same Twitter account within HootSuite. Suggestions? If so, please leave a comment!

HootSuite Lets You Manage More Than One Account on a Network: If you have more than one account on a social network (say Twitter accounts for personal use, school, your employer, and for freelance work), you can manage them all from the same HootSuite dashboard.

Setting Up Lists on HootSuite: Set up lists by clicking on Add Stream on the upper left-hand side of the dashboard. Start by selecting the profile (account name) and the type of stream (eg., home feed, mentions, direct messages). You can also choose to set up lists in which to carry out searches, search on keywords, or create your own lists.

If you choose to set up your own list, you can make it either public or private. If you choose to make a list public, your contacts will be notified that they have been added to your list and the name of the list to which they have been added.

Add Your Contacts to Your HootSuite Lists: When you have created your lists, add your contacts.

1. Click on contacts on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
2. Select the Twitter account from which you wish to create the lists
3. Your list of followers and the list of people who you follow will appear.
4. The names of the lists you created will appear.
5. You can add people to your lists by clicking on their avatars and dragging them to the desired list.

TIP: Set up your HootSuite account now before you add any more tweeps. Let`s just say that sorting more than a thousand followers into lists took hours, and hours, and hours.

Making the Most of 140 Characters

140 characters is not a lot of words. And with those handful of words, you are trying to create the kind of content people want to retweet. So I thought I’d share the most and least retweetable words and phrases.

The 20 Least Retweetable Words as identified by award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella in a study he conducted in 2009:

• Game
• Going
• Haa
• Lol
• But
• Watching
• Work
• Home
• Night
• Bed
• Well
• Sleep
• Gonna
• Hey
• Tomorrow
• Tired
• Some
• Back
• Bored
• Listening

The 20 Words and Phrases Most Likely to be Retweeted as identified by award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella:

• You
• Twitter
• Please
• Retweet
• Post
• Blog
• Social
• Free
• Media
• Help
• Please retweet
• Great
• Social media
• 10
• Follow
• How to
• Top
• Blog post
• Check out
• New blog post

Next Time . . . Getting Started on LinkedIn

Are you already on LinkedIn? Do you have LinkedIn tips to share? Do you have LinkedIn challenges you’d like solved? If so, please leave a comment . . . I’d really like to know.

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When I started this blog, I thought I’d be pumping out entries left, right, and centre. Then I fell for the siren call of Twitter. After several interesting weeks, I’m back at my blog. And at least now I can claim to have something to say about Twitter.

Be warned—I love puns. The worse they are, the more I like them. So it’s inevitable that I’d start by saying something like this—what’s all the Twitter about? Well, on March 21, 2012, Twitter’s 6th birthday, it had 140 million active users who were sending 340 million tweets a day. Clearly Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, particularly for those of us who work in public relations or marketing.

I had a Twitter account long before I started this blog; but I was following no one, and no one was following me. Just as well as I was neither tweeting nor listening to other people’s tweets. And yes, I said listening. Following the Twitter stream is a great way to find out what’s on people’s minds; and it that’s not listening, I don’t know what is.

Roughly a month in as an active Twitter user, and I now proudly follow 765, and 287 follow me. To date, I have sent 265 tweets.

Based on my own experience, this is how I recommend you approach using Twitter.

1.  Get a Decent Headshot

If you’re going to take part in the world of social media, and that includes twitter, get a decent headshot. And if any of your social media accounts are going to have any relationship to work, dress in a way that best reflects your professional self. Not a glamor shot, but not too stodgy either

Why is it so important to have a decent headshot? Well on most social media, and especially on Twitter, we’re limited to the sense of sight. People can read our words and see our pictures, but they can’t hear our voices or read our facial expressions or our body language. So it’s important to take full advantage of what there is. And one of those things is your own sweet mug. Here’s mine:)

What about using your company logo or wordmark instead of a head shot? If your logo or wordmark is very well known, you might choose to use it. I’ve come across a few people who have chosen to hedge their bets by combining a headshot with a logo or workmark; however, in my opinion the image as it appears in the Twitter stream is too small to do this successfully.

In the Twitterverse, the avatar that appears next to each tweet you send is about the size of a postage stamp when displayed on a notebook, tablet, or desktop, or the size of a pencil eraser when viewed on a mobile, so it’s important that your headshot look good small. There is a caveat, however; if someone chooses to click through to look at your profile, your headshot will appear approximately four times as large, so the resolution needs to be reasonable.

2.  Choose a Name that Reflects Your Brand

Once you have a headshot, sign yourself up. If you can at all, use the name you’re known by or your company name as your user name or handle. It will make it easier for people to find you; and for those of you who are concerned about branding, it maintains a level of consistency with your brand.

Then before you do anything else, upload your headshot. If you don’t, your avatar will appear as an egg. Many people assume the account attached to an egg is a Spam Bot—not a real person—and no one wants to follow or be followed by a Spam Bot. Users are much more likely to engage with another person. We know what people do with eggs:)

3.  Create a Stellar Profile

Next, and this is really important, fill out your profile. Many people base their decision to follow someone on their profile, so make sure yours gives a clear indication of your interests on Twitter and hints at your personality. You can also choose to add your location to your profile. Usually, sharing your location helps people put you in context; however, if you do business globally there are instances where you might be better off omitting your location. If you have an employer, and this is your personal Twitter account, you need to make it clear in your profile that the opinions expressed are your own not you employer’s, or you may run into trouble at work. Your profile is also the place to direct people to your blog, website, tumblr account, and facebook page. Make sure, however, that these things line up. If you’re tweeting professionally, you may not want to share a facebook page that focuses on kids, puppy dogs, and Farmville with your followers.

This is what my Twitter profile says:

Public relations and marketing veteran, advertising junkie, and mother of teenagers.
NL, Canada • www.ishouldhavedonethisyesterday.wordpress.com

Don’t link your Twitter account to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts because

  • Many of the things you Tweet don’t make sense out of the context of the Twitter stream.
  • Even if your Tweet can stand by itself, the subject might not be suited to your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections.
  • While the subject of your tweet might be suited to your Facebook and LinkedIn audiences, the tone that’s suited to Twitter isn’t likely to work on Facebook on LinkedIn.
  • If you’re a frequent tweeter, all those messages are just going to piss off your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections, who are not accustomed to being inundated.
4.  Start Following People

I started by following reporters, professional associations, news outlets, good causes, people who blog about public relations, marketing, and social media, some of the better known social media gurus (the good ones almost all seem to hate being called that), and a couple of celebrities.

Here are some suggestions from those I follow:

@PRSA @IABC @PRDaily @OnlinePrMedia @AdWeek @MrMediaTraining @helpareporter @prconversations @MarkRaganCEO @socialmediaclub @jeffbullas @SocialMedia411 (Social Media Insider) @SocialMedia Rvl @SocialNetDaily @PamMktgNut @BlogHer @WmJHartman @Reuters @AP @TheCdnPress @tw_top_news @NewsHour (PBS) @washingtonpost @TIME @nytimes @cnnbrk @guardian @NewYorker @Tweet_Leap @TweetSmarter @HuffingtonPost @historyweird @AncientProverbs @BillGates @Oprah @DalaiLama @ladygaga

You can use the search feature in Twitter to find people. You can sign up to follow many bloggers from their blogs and many companies from their blogs or websites. More and more, people are adding their Twitter handle to their e-mail signatures. Furthermore, when you are on your Twitter homepage, there is a suggested list of people to follow, some of whom are sponsored (i.e. they are paying to be promoted in this way).

And of course you can follow me @judymsnow.

When you are thinking about following someone, clicking on that user’s name will allow you to see their profile, number of tweets sent, number of people they follow, number of people who follow them, and their tweets. General wisdom is that you don’t want to follow someone who has no avatar, who has not tweeted, or who has no follower, although sometimes this may just mean they are new to Twitter—perhaps you can start your journey together. When a Twitter egg is attached to an account that tweets a lot, follows lots of people, and has next to no followers, it is safe to assume you have found the account of a Spam Bot, so don’t follow it.

Not everyone you follow will choose to follow you back, so don’t take offence. The Dalai Lama has more than 4 million followers, but follows no one. When you are notified that someone is following you, check out that person’s profile. You can choose to ignore them, follow them, or if they make you uncomfortable, block them.

Bear in mind that everyone can see who you follow and who follows you, and you may be judged by the company you keep.

5.  Start Tweeting

It is important to get a few tweets under your belt fairly quickly so that people who look at your account can tell that it is active and get some kind sense of the kind of content you share. What to do?

You can start by using the built-in retweet function to retweet a tweet that you like. You can also tweet a favorite quote. (FYI, quotes are the most popular content on Twitter.) Or you can just tweet your own comments—something interesting that you’re doing, or the topic du jour. You do not have to be 100% consistent in the kind of content you tweet, although received wisdom is that you’re more likely to be followed, to retain your followers, and to have your tweets shared if you’re not all over the place. I’ll talk more about that later.

Keep it short! Your tweets cannot exceed 140 characters, including spaces. Twitter will tell you when you go over. Tell free to use commonplace abbreviations to get your count down. Most experienced Twitter users try to keep their character count down to 120 or less, because it allows people to add a little something if they decide to retweet.

Be careful what you say about your employer, clients, and customers. If you wouldn’t want it published on the front page of your community daily, don’t say it on twitter.

Most people who are actively engaged in social media are happy to have you share their content; however, be sure to give credit where credit is due by adding RT @twitterhandle or via @twitterhandle to your tweet

6.  Mind Your Manners

Unless you are never going to need a job, a client, or a customer, you need to mind your manners on Twitter and present yourself professionally as realistically speaking your tweets are available for all to see, not just those you choose to see them. (More on this later.)

Next Time

Next time I’ll talk about Twitter trends, #hashtags, basic Twitter jargon, writing an effective Tweet, how to get retweeted, growing your number of followers, and the best times and days to Tweet.


As a 51 year old who has worked in communications and marketing for 23 years, I am ashamed to admit how little I know about social media. And it is cold comfort to know I am not the only communications professional to find herself in this boat.

I am one of those PR/marketing types who subscribes to the school of “everything is marketing,” from the sign outside your shop to the way you answer the phone to your YellowPages listing (snicker). So for me to lack a command of social media is embarrassing, to say the least. Career limiting, you might say. Clearly, this has to change.

So this is where I am right now.

Websites. The grand-daddy of social media. Websites I get. I developed my first big website in 1996, and my second in 1999. Many more have followed. Websites are about words. They’re about logic. They’re about content and links to other, related content. With a few great pictures tossed in. And by 2001, I had even managed to grasp the [now] obvious benefits of advertising on other organizations’ websites—organizations that were popular with and followed by my audiences/publics/segments, whatever the hell you want to call ‘em. Thanks to my ex-husband, I developed a rudimentary understanding of SEO (aka search engine optimization for my fellow Ludites) early on. Just don’t ask me about Google Panda, ‘cause I got nothing to say. Yet.

E-mail. One of my true loves. Direct mail without all those envelopes, labels, and stamps to lick. Why god created Blackberries. That and texting, which I reserve for communicating with my teenagers [insert eyeroll here]. I am relieved to hear e-mail is alive and well as a marketing and communications tool. What I need to learn is how to tie it together with everything else.

Facebook. That’s where I go to share funny pictures, good jokes (especially jokes about language, pr, and marketing), and to comment on, and share, news stories I find interesting. With my FRIENDS. You know, people with whom I am well acquainted. But use it for work. Not a clue. This . . . must . . . change.

YouTube.  I really enjoy watching videos of animals doing ridiculous things. Yup. I’m one of THOSE people. Obviously, I do realize that businesses and causes exploit YouTube to great effect. Something else I need to get my head around.

LinkedIn. 64 connections and counting. Pretty good profile, if I do say so myself. Nice headshot. I do work in PR after all. Pretty soon I hope to start using it as something more than a place to park my cv.

Twitter. I know Lady Gaga (20+ million followers) and Justin Bieber (18+ million followers) are the people to beat! That’s the competitive, marketing type coming out in me. I’ve signed myself up for a twitter account. I follow a company, and I had (please notice the tense) a follower.  Years ago when I decided to set up a personal e-mail account, I used my somewhat unusual maiden name judy_cheater@yahoo.ca. This is the e-mail address I used for my twitter account. Based on my e-mail address (how do they do that?) I acquired my one-and-only follower @YouGotCheatedOn. Today I will start following people. Tomorrow, perhaps someone will follow me.

Pinterest. Got an account there, too. Figure I’m going to post the memes I like from www.icanhascheezburger.com on Pinterest. Duh. Thanks to my thirteen year old for explaining what a “meme” is. Suspect this will be the last tool I add to my professional kit.

And that leads me to blogs. I don’t blog. Even more embarrassing, I don’t read other people’s blogs with the exception of two great Newfoundland and Labrador blogs, “John Gushue Dot Dot Dot” (www.johngushue.typepad.com) and Ed Hollett’s “The Sir Robert Bond Papers” (www.bondpapers.blogspot.com). How old am I? I’m so old my second version of the CP Stylebook makes no reference to blogs. I read books and magazines (and not, for the most part, the serious variety that improve your mind). I watch and read and listen to news, mostly the real kind. I read all kinds of stuff about marketing and communications. I even read some websites. But  I don’t understand why people blog or why people read blogs. Now it looks like I’m going to have to eat those words – and post them. So here I am. And here you are.

As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic approaches (www.receivingtitanic.com),  I am determined not to go down with the ship. I figure I have at least 15 good years of work left in me, so would somebody please throw me a life buoy.

There’s the rub. Nobody’s going to throw me a life buoy.  Instead, I fear I’m going to have to build myself a nice, cushy social media raft.

So this blog is about that journey, a journey to discover how to master social media as a set of tools and integrate them with all the other marketing and communications tools in my possession. I’m hoping some of the old hands – the masters of these tools—will throw me an occasional lifeline. And I hope I can be of some help to others who relate all too well to my little diatribe, those who want and need to make this trip themselves, the trip to communications in the 21st century.

So from here on in I promise a lot less personal revelation and a lot more simple, concrete suggestions for how those of us with our feet stuck in the 20th century can sink our teeth into the 21st.