Letterman Tweets! What’s Your Twitter Strategy?
Admittedly, even as David Letterman began his very first Tweets live on TV (snicker), there appears to be a great deal of nonsense communications, noise and ad hoc chatter. He says, “it’s pointless and infantile.” But Dave, remember this medium is a relatively “new medium” and just beginning to blossom into maturity. You can, indeed talk to David Letterman about whether ”You Smell Veal And Peppers?”
But, seriously what is your Twitter strategy? Does your organization, agency, firm have a Twitter strategy?
With more than 70 Million users on Twitter, it is definitely the “buzz” word of 2009. Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging micro-blogging service that works over multiple networks and devices. Truly, mobilizing communications into“now” PR.
Indeed, Twitter appears to be THE sensational social network micro-blogging tool for entrepreneurs, job seekers, and companies. Twitter is being used as a research resource, a collaborative enterprise social medium, PR, communications and marketing tool, an audience measurement source, messaging utility, networking facilitator and broadcast system. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens right now—from breaking world news to updates from friends.
There are plenty of ad hoc strategies for approaching how to make effective use of Twitter. And, for some, it may seem like it’s getting more complex each day. Here are some Twitter stats
Is your Twitter strategy via one person posting aimlessly with many Tweets all day? Or, are you posting only as reactive Tweets to others? Does your organization have many people with Twitter accounts post about each internal line of business? Are you considering many single Twitter accounts? Are you considering Twitter accounts by topic, for many topics? Or, is your approach really more seat of the pants’?
“The majority of practitioners … still prefer to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ and use intuition rather than intellectual procedures to solve public relations problems.” ~Managing Public Relations (1984), James Grunig and Todd Hunt
With the excitement over all the new capabilities, social media and near real-time communication. Initially, it may appear that your Twitter engagement success will need only three elements; enabling technologies, core applications and a shift in behavior.
You may hear or be part of….“We’ve got to get on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. And, as part of that immediacy, you may also hear that there is sense of urgency. Ok, so you signed up and have an account or multiple accounts. Once completed, you begin hearing water-cooler discussions, hallway whispers and planning sessions with may contain some of the following: Initially, to many people, Twitter may not make a lot of sense at first. How in the world can sending little 140 character messages to a bunch of people, many of whom you’ve never met, help us grow our business, build our brand or be effective outreach? What do we do now? How do we do this? Who’s going to do it? Who will maintain it? How many tweets can I/you/we/they manage? How many should we send out daily, hourly, weekly? Why are we doing this? How many topics can we/you/they manage? How many responses can you/they RT in response hourly, daily, weekly, monthly? Who should we RT on? What if we end up with 2,000, 4,000 or 10,000 followers in under a month? Are we strategically ready to respond to each and every single follower? Do we send canned micro-conversations? What if you/we get no followers? How will we handle disgruntled audiences? What if you/we only get “women” followers who spam our account with messages wanting/sending messages to follow you to their “picts” or other services? How will you handle this if it these as ReTweets to some of our topics? What if staff want to take part as individuals? Again, Why are we doing this? Do we need to tell everyone internally?
In, a nut shell, avoid trying to fit two or three divergent strategies into one Twitter account as a melting pot.
Some of old school PR methods may still be of significant value for our evolving new communication world. Case in point, the Edward Bernays paradigm outlined in his influential 1920s book, Crystallising Public Opinion and expanded in his classic 1955 PR text, The Engineering of Consent, on which most modern public relations thinking is based, is under challenge from new approaches which if continued without adequate research will speed up “PR’s descent into disrepute.”
As a result, I plead for the continued need for the “Engineering of PR as a result of well founded research upon which one should base their basic Twitter strategy.
Therefore, to answer the Twitter strategy question in part, I emphatically assert that your strategy should not be ad hoc, should not be many different things crammed into one channel, but based on a sound strategic MarCom 101 basic formula, wherein Marston provided the R.A.C.E. formula for public relations which identified four stages. (research, action, communication and evaluation). Cutlip and Center provided their own formula based on this which they expressed as fact-finding, planning, communication and evaluation. For the purpose of this discussion, we will only focus on the emphasis of doing your research first. Research is more than just a one-off activity at the end of campaigns and programs, but an ever on-going integral process of communications.
Evaluate inputs, outputs and outcomes as part of a continuous, integrated communication process (R.A.C.E.) from the earliest stages of planning, then if need be…hourly, daily, weekly, monthly. Use a range of formal and informal communication research methods which will lead to your final evaluation being strategic and much more valuable to management when aligned with mission and objectives.
For a variety of specific high level Twitter strategies consider some of the following:
- Corporate Reputation Management
- Event Coverage
- Media Relations
- Product, Service, Promotion, Sales
- Internal Communication
- Investor Relations
- Customer Relations
- Crisis Management
With any of these strategies, you will then need to use three key steps for each: follow, create and engage.
Twitter Strategy Considerations: Do Your Research First.
Research & Identify: How do you want to use Twitter? What function will it serve in meeting your objectives, target audience, needs and goals?
Research and know who your target audience, competitors and stakeholders are and what they are saying on Twitter: There are more than 50 research, tracking and analytic tools available to help track your audience, trends, messaging and your performance on Twitter. Learn a bit more about the basics of Twitter Search here. Here are a few named directly, Twazzup, Twitteranalyzer, Tweettronics,Twittercounter, Tweettronics,Twitnest, Klout, SuiteSpot, SuiteSpot,Monitter Wefollow, Twittermap.tv, Twittermap.us.
Research Who to Strategically Follow: Avoid following hundreds of people or companies immediately as this tactic gives the impression you are spamming people with sales propaganda. Consider developing strategic partnership followers/stakeholder to help leverage your outreach efforts, working in concert with other top industry SME’s. Therefore Research Who to follow, and identify people and agencies in the industry, business, niche, or company inline with your overall goals and objectives. Perform your due diligence before following someone. Do not sign up for an auto-follow service
Research Keywords: Make a list of relevant and timely keywords to help you find the conversations you want to follow and Tweet about. See what others are doing/using. Consider comparing these Key words what you are already using on your Internet sites, cloud tags, meta tags, search engine SEO Strategically synch them all.
Research: Integrate Search/SEO/SEM: Input in your keywords, names, topics into the internal/external search engines to tap into the conversations you wish to follow and engage in.
Develop & Vary Your Strategic Messaging: For example, for every 15 “Tweets” you may want to write or respond to 10 external value based tweets and then post 5 are about your products, services, or events. Create your editorial “calendar” for a daily, weekly basis. But also beware who is Tweeting about your topics as well, as misinformation. You can research this with a variety of tools as well. Within your 7 value messages leave links to your resources, services, products
Strategically Plan to Use Tiny Urls: Use these valuable links to shrink the size of your URL links so they fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit. Since the launch of Tinyurl.com about 100 or similar sorts of URL shorteners have developed. As of Spring 2009, Bit.ly over took Tinyurl’s use on Twitter.
Strategically Plan to RT. “RT” stands for Re-Tweet. This is a form of recognition and the best strategy for networking. When you want to recognize someone’s Tweet content you simply place RT and then copy their Tweet. This provides your network with the valuable information and opens up a line of communication with that person, organization or topic of discussion. Consider this may require more real time communication planning scenarios. How will you handle this? @: This is another form of recognition. If you @person or company you can ask them a question as well as publicly recognize them for their writing, topic or discussion. This is engaging with your audience.
Research and Strategically Plan for Your #FollowFriday: (Consider Target Audience, Other Twitters, Other Lists, Other Topics, Other SMEs, Trending Up) Twitter Strategies: #Followfriday Recommendations: during your #Followfriday efforts use a combination of messages. Write a few #followfriday messages, then create a Mr.Tweet recommendation. Make sure you check the auto tweet option on your Mr.Tweet recommendation, so it shows up in your tweet stream. Mr. Tweet, the self proclaimed “Your Personal Networking Assistant”, recommendations. Much like the strategy behind Linkedin recommendations, Mr Tweet recommendations allow Twitterers the opportunity to strategically recommend their favorite Twitterers. The Twitter strategy in making use of favorites can be used in conjunction with your Mr.Tweet Twitter strategy. Mr.Tweet Recommendations: There are two methods to writing a recommendation on Mr. Tweet. You can use the Mr. Tweet internal search engine to find people you want to recommend or you can allow Mr.Tweet to suggest people you may wish to recommend.
Keep your ear to the ground continuously monitoring and evaluating the pulse. And, as Dave Letterman said, “someone go outside and see if the followers coming!”
Be sure to have fun!
- A Twitter Guide:
- A UK Gov Twitter Policy
- Tweetdeck, Organize followers into specific categories (i.e. industry leaders, customers, etc.)
- A List of Social Marketing Examples: Thanks to Peter Kim
- Offshoot: Examples of Social Marketing by Channel Type: Ray Schiel’s Blog
- An External Wacovia Brand Twitter Case Study
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