Marketing Director

8 ways to use Twitter

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his post will give you tips and ideas about ways that Twitter can benefit you, your business or your personal brand.

1. Store, access and share links, videos, articles or pictures

This may seem strange when great sites like Delicious, Friendfeed or Digg are out there for bookmarking but Twitter is evolving into an all-in-one. Using Power Twitter, a Firefox add-on, you can search through a Twitter Profile for keywords. If you don't use Firefox you can also use Twitter Search to search for a twitter name and a keyword(s).

If you are using Power Twitter the add-on will automatically open embedded video and pictures on your Twitter page without having to click a link.

I have been tagging my tweets with keywords (marketing, twitter, facebook, technology, business, Canada, etc.) for three reasons. First, people searching Twitter for those topics may stumble upon my tweets. Second, when I want to find an article I tweeted about 2 months ago I can simply view my own profile and using Power Twitter or Twitter Search I can search only my profile updates to find all of the links I have tweeted about those search criteria. Lastly, Google will be crawling those keywords and can return strong organic search results (FUTURE POST: Twitter as a Google keyword tool).

I am in no way affiliated with Power Twitter I hope they read this and I have more to say about their app in the future, it's great, although it hogs a fair amount of memory.

PROFESSIONALISM SIDE NOTE: Tweets, links, replies and everything else in your profile paints a picture about who you are and what you are up to generally. Imagine customers, business partners, friends and employers going through your Twitter profile and seeing what you have been reading, saying, doing or promoting.

2. Connect & talk with your customers past, present & future

This is the most important and complex element of Twitter to business. These days everyone is using Twitter to sell themselves, their business or 1500 Followers for $200. There is so much noise out there. How can you cut it?

Whatever your selling, to truly make Twitter work for you: Use traditional sales for traditional selling and Twitter for a more advanced form of Customer Relationship Management.

This is your business' opportunity to get free, easy, cheap customer feedback and market research. Twitter users are not a true measure of the population, check this out for marketing statistcs on twitterers to get a better idea of the Twitter demographic. Ask customers what they think of your offerings through Twitter. Generally, the people who respond are likely the customers who are most interested in the new products or services your company produces.

Also by replying to people's questions with advice and a link to your business you will encourage the entire Tworld to visit your business and consider your value proposition because you have offered them something up front; the advice. This will be one of the new economy's buying criteria: consumers want something upfront to engage in a transaction with a new company.

One can also use Twitter to connect with customers to offer them more value. A method that will pay off in the long-run as Twitter is now only beginning to penetrate the mainstream. This value-added Twitter service is something done well by the Retro Bakery's Twitter/Blog "simply delightful", JapaDog Hot Dog Stand Vancouver (@japadog) and Vancouver-based Provident Security (@ProvidentMike).

3. Break news, send emergency messages or communicate when other methods are not working.

This method is one of the most popular uses of Twitter. News now travels faster than even newspapers who jumped onto the net early had thought it would. This way of using Twitter is sadly most well documented by three recent plain crashes near Denver, New York and Amsterdam.

In each case an ordinary citizen was the first person to report the crash and it was first widely reported on twitter. In each of the latter cases the 'reporters' also took photos. In the case of the New York Hudson River crash landing miracle (great work by the pilots) the photo was the kind that would usually would fetch $100,000 from the Associated Press or Reuters.

Emergency Alerts are perfectly suited to Twitter read ----> A great story about Government intentions to use Twitter for emergency messaging.

The recent outage of Gmail almost caused Twitter to crash as millions of users turned to tweet to see what was wrong with their beloved Gmail. Read about it here. This outage has raised questions about Google's near monopoly and whether or not it is truly good for internet users to rely so much on one source when that source could go down. The debate is sure to rage for years.

4. Spread News

On Twitter you get news the instant that it's posted, usually the night before anyone receives their PAID newspaper subscriptions, it is being spread through the Tworld (Twitter World) for FREE. This is a great way to use Twitter to add value for your followers because of course they deserve more value, we all do.

Posting links should not be over used and can be helped by using these qualifying questions:
  1. Did you read the whole article?
  2. Did you think it was worth keeping or ready again in the future?
  3. Would my friends appreciate reading it?
  4. Are my followers like my friends?
These are just some ideas about how to personally validate the importance of a link to your twitter network. Be sure to twitter about this blog post if you are finding it useful. This is my first Twitter blog post and your feedback is greatly appreciated.

5. Send information/links to your facebook network.

On Facebook people often spend time browsing Status Updates. As I post links on Twitter, which is linked directly to my Facebook, I see a large numbers of clicks coming from FaceBook(links are tracked using HootSuite). Its my Facebook network clicking my Tweet links because they find them interesting. I will discuss a little later about tracking your tweets in the #8.

Linking your Facebook status to Twitter can be a bit much for some people in your Facebook network to take. TweetDeck's new Facebook integration is amazing for this with a simple check box next to either the message box with a check for Facebook and one for Twitter.

There are some great services that can help you out. This is especially true if you tweet very frequently or use excessive tweet language. Tweet language can be difficult for Facebook users to understand.

6. Monitor what the Tworld is saying about Anything

Use Tweetgrid to monitor what people are saying about up to 9 different topics/keywords in real time. Just visit the Tweetgrid link and click "3X3". Now enter the keywords you want to track into the boxes and let it rip. This can slowdown other internet activities and should be used while doing other Twitter activities and not general browsing.

Tweetgrid is an awesome tool for tracking tweets. You can also use tools like Tweetdeck to seperate tweets into categories.

7. Monitor your community and connect with locals

By following local news organizations, politicians, community leaders and others like yourself you will be able to connect yo your local community in a whole new way. This an awesome way to connect to people in your community you may never had connected with without Twitter. Just use Twitter Search or Tweetgrid to look for your city/town name, the name of your area or community center. You will shocked with how many people in your area are using Twitter.

8. To track link metrics and more

Using Hootsuite, TwitPwr or others you can track how many people click your specially shortened links.
You can also find out where those clicks came from in terms of site(Facebook, twitter & other feed sites), country and date.

Hootsuite is not the only service which will track your tweets and
try this link for 26 ways to track your tweets. TwitPwr and Hootsuite add a title bar on the top of your clicked links , a small price to pay for the services you receive in return. One of those services is the chance to put a Google Adsense ad benefiting you in the title bar with Hootsuite's own ads. Check out Magpie basically Twitter's own affiliate marketing.

It's a good trade-off. It's also something that could turn off savvy and experienced Twitterers; some of whom are already wealthy and some of whom just feel it is in bad taste to monetize twitter in anyway.

To the other 99% of the population out there this is an opportunity for you to offer valuable information to your followers on twitter and facebook while also opening the door to a financial opportunity for you.

NOTE: You may lose some followers applying these changes to your tweets but if you continue to offer value through your tweeted links then you will ultimately gain more tweeters than you lose.

Be sure to Read this great post from Kris Colvin: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Twitterers.

Lastly, no matter what you do on Twitter offer people 90% valuable information and 10% self-promotion - The 90-10 rule.

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