Social Media 101: How to Use Twitter, Part 3

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

So, here we are once again for the third and final chapter in our Twitter odyssey. Having covered the basic philosophy of tweeting, here are a last few tips to help you rise above the rest of the Twitterati.

Part 1
Part 2

VAT – Value Added Tweeting

Investor and author Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post about using Twitter without letting it dominate you. The advice is sound, but mostly along a different track to these articles (the focus is on being able to manage your time on Twitter rather than the substance of your actual tweets).

However, Ferriss does make a good point with the fourth tenet of his creed (“fourth tenet of his creed”? Why am I speaking like a Biblical prophet?):

“Don’t post unless you add more value than the attention you consume (both yours and others).”

Moses

To be fair, these kinds of things would sound cooler coming from Biblical prophets.

 Basically, this kind of leads back to parts 1 and 2. If you expect someone to read you tweets, you have to make it worth their while. Ferriss gives three examples of how to do this:

  1. “Add value if you consume attention.” As I said in part 1, no one wants to know about the mundane details of your boring life. But if you can add something of use your tweeting becomes much more valuable. Ferriss gives the example of providing the address of the restaurant where you got a great burrito instead of just saying you had a nice meal. But you can look at this in the context of journalism as well – don’t just say something like “David Cameron doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, add a statistic or something to prove it. Don’t just blog that violence is kicking off at a protest, tell people on what street it’s happening.
  2. “Use the tool for its best purposes and ignore the rest.” Put simply, use Twitter for what it’s good at – publicising small bits of information to a wide audience. Don’t try and use it to make a lengthy argument about economic policy – write a blog post (which you can of course link to on Twitter). Don’t try and use it to co-ordinate an article you’re writing with a small group of colleagues – start a Facebook group.
  3. “Linking is fundamental to adding value.” Why bother making several tweets covering all the interesting things in an online article when you can just link to that article? Linking not only makes people curious as to where the link goes (as Ferriss says), but for journalists it serves another crucial purpose: it allows you to back up the 100 character statement you’ve just made.

 If you’re taking up space on someone’s feed and not providing any value, don’t be surprised if they decide to stop following you.

Think Beyond Yourself

Another good article is Nate Whitehall’s Top 5 Ways NOT to Use Twitter. Essentially, most of Whitehall’s points come to down to one thing – don’t think about what you want to say, think about what you’re saying to everyone else.

So don’t constantly promote your own articles, promote ones from other people as well. Pose questions, respond to other people’s tweets. Not only will this be more interesting to your followers, it will help you build social capital.

Also, Whitehall advises thinking beyond just saying what’s happening where you are, and posting a picture on TwitPic. Yes, it’s terribly cliché, but a picture paints a thousand words. That’s really something you should utilise when you’ve only got 140 characters to work with. Allow your followers to engage more with your situation.

Final Advice

So this is the end of our little miniseries on producing better tweets. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and to finish off, here’s a final thought about using Twitter. If you take nothing else away from these articles, take this.

Just before you tweet, read back what you’ve said (this won’t take you long), and just think: “would this interest me if someone else posted it?”

(And if you only see one movie this year… you’ve got to get out more often.)

Use social networks for your business communication!

31 Mar

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

According to a study by BNP Paribas, 30% of internet users in Western Europe use social networks for professional means, chiefly to expand their professional reputation. This is a figure that cannot be taken lightly, especially when one looks at the rise of social networks, in particular ‘vocational’ ones like LinkedIn. Social communication within business is often seen as an unmanageable risk – you never know who’s gonna let something slip. This might, however, not be something to fear…

The business model has changed

The business model has changed! Today, the tight and traditional business model is fading in favour of greater openness.  Businesses in general must now deal with infinitely more complex systems. Interactions and combinations are multiple, and the set of the interdependence is confusing.

Business is no longer a closed entity. The boundaries between internal and external communication are increasingly fine, and it is difficult to contain information exclusively within your company, whether or not you yourself are an executive. Outgoing e-mails, facebook status updates, Twitter reactions, MSN, Skype… the list goes on. There are so many doors open to the outside that are not necessarily harmful to your business structure, provided that use of social platforms is monitored. A policy concerning what can and cannot be said on social networking sites should be developed.

Proaction in your day-to-day business activities

Many businesses have virtual doors which are communication channels, allowing informative flow both internally and externally. In 2011, it’s definitely impossible to close these doors, given the wealth of cyber communication available to employees. But the flow can indeed be controlled. Over 80% of business leaders don’t include their professional actions on social networks, and this is a shame. Social platforms are the perfect way to advertise and even show off your company in a particular circle, and it’s absolutely free! Andy Beal has defined a list of 12 key of e-reputation points that each company should monitor:

1. Your Personal Name

Whether you’re an independent consultant, or a very small cog on a big corporate wheel, you should absolutely monitor any media mentions of your own name. An extra tip, monitor your user names too: monitoring “andy beal” would likely not include mentions of “andybeal.”

2. Your Company Name

Another “no brainer.” Monitor your company name, but also monitor any likely misspellings or legacy company names. For example, GlaxoSmithKline should also monitor “GSK,” “Glaxo,” and “Glaxo Wellcome.”

3. Your Product Brands

If you’re Google, you should monitor the reputation of your key product brands. What’s being said about “Android” or “Gmail.” The same goes for your product brands. You may not be able to keep track of all your products, but you should track the ones that are the most vital to your business.

4. Your CEO (and other execs)

I’ll make you this promise. At some point in his tenure, your CEO will put his foot squarely in his mouth. You should monitor all possible iterations of his name, so you can be the first to know–or at least know before the WSJ finds out.

5. Your Media Spokesperson

Even if CEO might is a recluse, I’m sure someone in your company is in the public spotlight a lot. If I were Lenovo, I’d monitor mentions of David Churbuck–after all he’s likely discussing Lenovo on his blog and Twitter. (Knowing David, this post made his radar within 2 minutes of being published…hi David!)

6. Your Marketing Message

“So easy even a caveman can do it?” “Just do it!” What if those campaign slogans were accompanied by “sucks” or “I’ll never buy from them again?” Monitoring your marketing campaigns will help you understand if your message is getting across, and what your customers have to say about it.

7. Your Competition

Surely you’d find value in knowing your biggest competitor just got the jump on you. Reports suggest that inside Lenovo, execs knew about the launch of Apple’s Mac Air within minutes–important for Lenovo, as it was planning it’s own ultra-light notebook.

As we explain in the book, Pepsi found itself in troubled-waters over the revelation its Aquafina was nothing but purified tap water from New York. If Coca Cola monitored the buzz for Pepsi’s products, they would see how consumers reacted to the news–and prepared for the questions about its own “tap water,” Dasani.

8. Your Industry

If you keep a watchful eye on industry trends, you can spot opportunities and potential disasters. Everyone’s raving about the iPhone, but some hate the touchscreen keypad? Maybe BlackBerry should offer a handset that offers both a touchscreen and its highly-praised keyboard.

9. Your Known Weaknesses

Your brand has a weakness. If that’s a shock to you, I apologize for being the bearer of bad news. Still, it’s better I tell you now, than a customer tell the New York Times.

Take an honest look at your products and services and ask yourself, what are our weaknesses. If Dell has admitted to itself that it’s customer support sucked, maybe it would have been in a better position to discover–and respond–to Jeff Jarvis sooner.

10. Your Business Partners

If you’re Boeing wouldn’t you want to know if one of your airline customers just declared bankruptcy? How does that effect your quarterly sales numbers? For you, maybe the CEO of a company you did that “co-branded” campaign with, was just snapped leaving a brothel–how would that reflect on your own reputation.

Identify your key business partners and make sure you know what’s happening to their business.

11. Your Clients’ News

OK, for all of your internet marketing agencies–and anyone else that knows the value of keeping clients happy–here’s a tip for you. Monitor the news for your clients and then send them a note to congratulate them on their accomplishments–or maybe “get their back” if you see trouble brewing. Your retention rate will go way up!

12. Your Intellectual Property

If you invested the time–and expense–to register a trademark or copyright your work, shouldn’t you make sure it’s not being infringed upon? Apart from enforcing trademark infringements, you should also make sure there aren’t any cases of mistaken identity. Did someone just complain about how much their Google iPhone sucks? You might want to suggest a correction–or maybe not, if you’re Apple.

Simple!

5 ways to integrate Twitter into a website or blog

31 Mar

by Ben Miller

I recently saw on Little Twitter illustrated (in French)  that there are several ways to use Twitter without going through the actual Twitter.com site.

But there are also several other ways, both technical and graphical, to integrate Twitter into a website or blog – by employing ready-to-use scripts, plugins (mainly for WordPress) and other widgets.

Here is a selection of 10 ways to integrate Twitter into a site or blog:

1) The Tweet This button: Available as a plugin for WordPress (but also for Joomla and Blogger), this button, found at the bottom of each article, allows users to post their favorite articles on Twitter . Tweet This is to Twitter what “Digg” is to, well, Digg ! In other words  a visual boost for blogs. You can see an example of implementation of Tweet This button on this blog .

tweetthis 10 façons dintégrer Twitter dans un site ou un blog

2) The Re-tweet button: Proposed by Tweetmeme , as a WordPress plugin or independent accessory.  Clicking on this button, as in the previous case, publishes an article on Twitter. It is customarily said that the value of information posted on Twitter is measured in the number of retweets (or RT) received, i.e. the number of times it is re-published (and repeated) by different members. Retweet button, which displays this number on his meter, is an indicator that measures the relevance of information . To see it in action, look here.

retweet 10 façons dintégrer Twitter dans un site ou un blog

3) The followers counter: In the style of a RSS Feedburner subscriber counter, similar to all social media obssessees eager to display the size of their cyber manhood, and therefore influence, Twitter counters allow users to see how many people follow them on the site. You can see your own follower count at TwitterCounter

twittercounter 10 façons dintégrer Twitter dans un site ou un blog

4) The Follow Me button: In addition to the RSS subscription button and email subscription, theFollow me  button on Twitter gradually added to the arsenal of loyalty that bloggers offer their readers. There are no rules and no need for plugins for this: just create a button with a graphics programme, and put in a prominent place on your blog, not forgetting of course to incluude a link that points to your Twitter account.

5) Display your latest tweets on your site: Those who are Twitterly active and want to the visitors to their personal site to see their latest Twitter posts without leaving their page, new tweets can be displayed in several ways, either using a WordPress plugin , or directly by using the proposed Twitter widget , which offers the advantage of being installable on any site with a simple copy and paste, even though its customisation options are fairly limited.  Beware, however: Twitter is a platform where freedom of speech is paramount, where you can say anything you want, and it’s easy to forget that whatever you say will appear on your own site. Just sayin’..

twitter widget 10 façons dintégrer Twitter dans un site ou un blog

Are we entering the age of the Social Media Election?

28 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

While we’re all excited about the Royal Wedding on the 29th April, it’s the 5th May I’m looking forward to.  While there’s perhaps a little less anticipation in the lead up to the AV referendum in comparison to the hysteria surrounding Kate Middleton’s dress, it marks an exciting moment for anyone looking at how journalists turn to social media to cover news stories these days.

In fact, Paul Waugh from PoliticsHome even makes a nifty comparison between past elections and the upcoming nuptials on Charlie Beckett’s POLIS blog: “It’s going to be a very social media Royal Wedding. Like the election debates, it will be TV that gets the big audiences but it will be the online networks that feel the buzz…Everyone will get a chance to have their say, regardless of the official or mass media coverage.”

So, how will coverage of the voting on the 5th May differ to what we saw last May in the General Election? We’ve already seen the BBC live blogging its election coverage and The Telegraph had an interactive election map, to name just two tools journalists have used in their past coverage.

With the arrival of the latest app – an iPhone canvassing app – this election will be what Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, calls in a Caledonian Mercury article: “the first social media election”.  He claims: “the Tories spent a lot of money on social media last year but the country wasn’t quite ready. This year it is.”

And if MPs are using iPhone apps to canvas and Twitter and Facebook to connect with the electorate, you can bet your bottom dollar, the journalists won’t be far behind.  Take for example, how much discussion’s been stimulated by the referendum and, more to the point, the platforms being used on which to discuss the issues: there’s a Google groups AV debate and even a Facebook app that lets you try out AV, using polls and trivial examples:

Fun examples help the young (and typically apathetic) engage with what the referendum’s all about!

And for the journalists? Well the struggle to engage young people with politics is a subject about which the journalist typically finds much to write – even the BBC’s at it! So FB apps like this one get their own fair share of news coverage, for instance on this LSE blog post.  Social media is increasing the demographic who can follow, participate in and enjoy the upcoming election (referendum).  And the journalists have picked up on that: it’s not just straight results coverage with statistics and analysis anymore.

Twitter in Parliament

27 Mar

Ian Kearney

@iankearney

Earlier this year Twitter users were given permission to Tweet from inside the courts and now, as of yesterday, MP’s have been given the go-ahead to Tweet from inside the Chamber.

Yes I am aware that MP’s have been doing this for quite some time but the Procedure Committee have just given it the official go ahead so its safe to see we will be seeing a lot more of it now as MP’s battle it out in the obligatory popularity contest that will ensue.

Despite what the critics had to say the report dismissed them by saying:

“Banning [mobile devices] from the Chamber might make the House appear out of touch with modern life and would mean that those in the Chamber would be the last to know of breaking news widely available on the internet.”

“MPs should be allowed to use handheld electronic devices, such as iPads and smartphones, in the Chamber of the House of Commons provided that they do so with decorum and regard for others.”

All this raises a few issues. Will we see Tweet-happy MP’s spending more time hashtagging then paying attention in Commons? Will the house of Parliament look more like a classroom full of texting teens than a government? Will the public be able to sway parliamentary business by Tweeting their MP’s?

There are both positive and negative consequences of this decision and I am sure it wont be long before we start to see the results whatever they may be.

The 3 best tools for social media bloggers

27 Mar

by Ben Miller

One of the main challenges we face when leading a social media campaign is choosing which tool to use to control the our cyber developments. It is important to have multiple platforms that allow you to manage and monitor your online activity, but it’s often difficult to use them all at once (diverse as they are!) which means that we can’t envisage our actions in the grand scheme of things.

To localise and control our social media-based activities, custom desktops like Netvibes were invented.  Such platforms allow you to add all profiles in the same space and also customise the necessary feeds. Moreover, we also have other tools designed to ‘revitalise’ profiles in a simpler way, as is the case of FriendFeed. In short, they’re tools to make cyber life a little easier.

Some of the most useful for control your activity are:

Netvibes: One of the most popular platforms that uses custom desktop to control posts on the web.  It’s divided into tabs so that  an RSS widget can be added to each post. In this way, we can create a personalised desktop from which to update our Twitter and Facebook profiles, and to add widgets to control YouTube and Flickr (among other utilities) and open a custom tab that automatically adds the RSS of blogs that we specifically search for in forums or other blogs. This allows immediate control of our platforms and activities.

iGoogle: Broadly speaking, iGoogle works similarly to Netvibes as an incorporational platform for widgets and feeds. iGoogle makes blogging and projecting easy, because, as with the other Google tools, you only need an email account to get started.  The big disadvantage is that it cannot be made public.

 

TweetDeck:  This is another tool that integrates various social networking profiles.  The advantage of is that users can view  each of the profiles in columns and add customised columns. In Twitter’s case, TweetDeck can be used to control tweets, searches, or direct messages at a glance.  It also has the advantage of being able to highlight active profiles in various social platforms – v useful for online campaigns and corporate profiles.

The big difference with TweetDeck is that it isn’t used in the browser itself – instead you have to download it as an application.

Social Media 101: How to Use Twitter, Part 2

26 Mar

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

Greetings faithful social medions (I have no idea why I just came up with that phrase, so don’t ask me), and welcome back to the (somewhat belated) second part of our guide to using Twitter in a cleverer fashion and not like, well, a twit.

Part 1

So in the last article, I said that if you want to be a proficient tweeter (or twitterer, or twerp, or whatever), you have to talk about something other than yourself. But what? Well, that’s what I’m going to cover today.

It’s all about USP

Mark: You’ve brought a snake?
Super Hans: Yeah. All these young spunks swarming about, you need a USP to gain a market share.
Peep Show, Episode 6.5

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. It’s a concept that comes up a lot in our Online Journalism courses, and one that I personally feel should be the core mantra of any blogger, and by extension, any micro-blogger.

Manta ray

I said "blogger's mantra", not "blogger's manta".

But “Unique Selling Point” sounds like business speak. What does it actually mean?

In a nutshell, USP can be summed up as: “What can I get from you then I can’t get anywhere else?”

You can’t just write a sports blog and copy all your content for the BBC sport site. Why would anyone read it? Why wouldn’t they just go straight to the BBC site themselves, which at the very least will have the advantage that they’ll have all the news up before you?

You wouldn’t do that. You’d add your unique insight  – funny, interesting, intelligent, heck, even just plain old obnoxious – to the stories. Or amalgamate news from several different sites. Or use your own contacts to get stories before anybody else.

But even that isn’t necessarily enough. Put simply, you have to be the best at what you do. You have to be, otherwise why would anyone be interested in reading your sports blog above every other one on the web?

And what’s the easiest way of being the best at what you do? Do something that no one else does. The thing that you do that no one else does is your USP.

USP Your Tweets to the Max

So as you might have guessed from the above header, this principle applies even to Twitter. You hear something, and you want to share it, but before you do, go through the following steps in your head:

  1. Is this story totally unreported?
  2. Do you have any new information about the story?
  3. Do you have an interesting thought to offer? Some facet that no one else has considered?
  4. Do you have a new quote from someone connected to the story?
  5. Do you have something funny to say about the situation?
The Chewbaccalaureate

What you find funny may vary from everyone else.

If you’ve gone through every one of those questions and the answer is “no” to every one, then, well, don’t bother tweeting it.

What should you do instead? Simple: retweet! Retweet!

Read Part 3 here.