Twitter seems to have come out of nowhere to become one of the world’s most popular online social services behind Facebook and MySpace. Twitter now has millions of users, and even Oprah got on it, putting it in the minds of millions more yet (and irking thousands of existing users in the process). Celebrities and CNN are all about Twitter now, it seems. But most of the people on twitter are your peers and your clients and customers.
Simply put, if you’re not using Twitter, you’re missing the party. You know, the one where all the deals get made behind the scenes. The one you’ll regret not joining. If you’re using it but you’re still wondering what all the shouting’s about, you could probably use some help in getting more from it. This going to be a big post. I’ve put a lot of work into it to make it the ultimate resource for you. It’s even got its own table of contents:
- Understand what Twitter is from the perspective of marketing your business
- Know what the three most important priorities are for using Twitter effectively
- Understand the tactics which support each of the three priorities
- Learn how to set up Twitter for maximum effectiveness
- Learn Twitter vocabulary
- Discover what NOT to do on Twitter and avoid blunders
- Know which tools to use to fulfill your Twitter marketing objectives, why, and how to use them
- How to make money on Twitter
There are a ton of free and paid ebooks and information products out there purporting to give you the secret keys to the Twitter kingdom so that you can make tons of money (which, as we all know, is the secret to happiness). I’ve thought long and hard about writing a Twitter book myself, but have decided against it. Instead, I’m going to give you all the important stuff I know for free and without even asking you to download anything. It’s all right here in this post.
Blogging is not just about blogging anymore. Hasn’t been for quite some time. Blogging and social media empower and synergize each other. Often, the same mindset and strategies work for both. Although blogging didn’t begin its evolution defined as being an aspect of social media, that’s how we look at it now.
What is Twitter… Really?
So what is Twitter, really? As Deana de Bara said in The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter here a few months ago:
The program began as a research and development project inside a small San Fransisco start up, and was initially used as an inter-office communication tool (think instant messenger). It was officially launched online as Twitter in July of 2006.
The best way I can think to describe Twitter is that it is basically a public chat room, only instead of reading what everyone has to say, you can pick and choose who you listen to as well as who listens to you.
Twitter is like being at the party where all the deals go down. If you’re not at the party, you miss being in on those deals. I’ve seen freelancers refer clients to each other on Twitter, help promote each other’s blog posts, and join forces to promote a cause they believe in. I’ve seen people say, “I need a developer/designer, anybody know a good one?” and a few minutes later, somebody gets hired.
And yes, I make money from Twitter, directly and indirectly (more on that later).
The more involved you are with other people in your field, the more knowledgeable you become, which makes you look far better to your clients than the next guy who’s not doing online marketing the way you’re doing it. This leads to long-term success for your business.
Twitter represents the single greatest personal marketing opportunity you have besides your blog; it is to be used eagerly, and not passed up. However, it must be used carefully.
Microblogging is technically what you do on Twitter. You have no choice, really: the service limits the number of characters you can type when posting to only 140. Each post is like a teeny-tiny blog post. The reason for this so that you can use Twitter from your mobile phone as well as your computer. Using your phone service’s SMS service, you can post to Twitter. This small (literally) difference between Twitter and other social media services online makes a huge difference, because you’re not chained down to a desktop or laptop computer. You can use Twitter from anywhere, and people do. This significant feature makes Twitter far more useful to many more people than other social media services.
It is said that brevity is the soul of wit, and nowhere is that tested more than on Twitter! Trying to say something meaningful in only 140 characters can sometimes be a challenge (but a good one if you’re overly verbose).
How Twitter is Social, and Why it Matters to Marketing Your Business
The way that you gather and build an audience on Twitter is by having people “follow” you. Funny thing is, they’ll only follow you if they want to. So you have to think about what kind of value are you going to bring to the table: why would someone want to follow you? (This is almost exactly like blogging: why would someone want to read your blog?)
When others follow you, they see what you post on Twitter (a post on Twitter is called a “tweet”). When you follow them, you see what they post. When you follow a lot of people, you see many micro-posts in your Twitter stream. Your Twitter profile page will consist mostly of a list of these tweets going down the page.
Here’s where it starts to get interesting: you can basically chat with other people on Twitter. All you have to do to send a public message (anyone can see it) is to preface their Twitter name with an “@” sign. This conversational aspect adds an entirely new dimension to Twitter that makes it a game-changer. It’s like they took blogging, commenting, and instant messaging and blended them altogether into the perfect social media storm.
But it gets better. There is a “behind the scenes” aspect to Twitter, as well. You can exchange private messages with someone when you are mutually following each other. These are called direct messages (DMs for short), and they are why Twitter has become such a deal-making phenomenon. A lot of the hidden deal-making that takes place between people who know each other online is happening in Twitter direct messages. I know, because I have experienced more than my fair share of them. In fact, it’s how I met and decided to go into business with Grant Griffiths, the first product of which is Blawging Lawyers (and more to come).
So you have microblogging, public messages to others, and direct (private) messages to those you’re mutually following. The combination of these has had amazing unintended consequences.
After all, it’s not what the tool does. It’s what you do with the tool. People have proven amazing things can be done with Twitter.
The question that you’re supposedly answering every time you tweet is: What are you doing? Most people gleefully ignore that and use Twitter for whatever purposes they see fit. Twitter’s founders have been amazed at how people are really running with the service by creatively using it in ways they never could have anticipated.
One of the fun aspects of Twitter is its jargon. If you’re going to use it successfully, you need to know the lingo. People love to take the words twitter, twit, tweet and combine them with other words to make up fun new words, like tweeple.
Autofollow - Automatically following other users who follow you. This is a setting in Twitter, but tools which integrate with Twitter may also automatically follow other users–a practice which has met with much scorn, because of its use by spammers and over-zealous marketers who don’t understand the value of relationship-building.
Block – If you don’t want to ever see anything another Twitter user says, you can block them. This is commonly done when people are spamming or offending you on Twitter.
Direct Message/DM – Private messages sent to other Twitter users who are following you, and whom you follow. Mutual following is what makes DMs possible.
Follow/Followers/Following – When you want to read what another Twitter user posts, youÂ follow that user. Your followers are all the people who are interested in what you have to say and in interacting with you on Twitter. When you are logged into the service, you can follow others with the click on a button.
Hashtags – Hashtags are a keyword prefaced with a “#” sign. If I tweeted about SEO, for example, I might put #seo in the tweet. There are services online which scan for these and people can also search on them and see all the tweets that contain a particular hashtag (the # is also called a hash sign).
OH - An abbreviation for “overheard” followed by something funny or entertaining which the tweeter overheard someone say. This is what happens when people are out and about tweeting with mobile devices–life all around us can be quite entertaining at times.
Reply - A tweet that is a public message to another Twitter user. These tweets begin with @username.
Retweet/RT – Copying another Twitter user’s tweet and adding the letters “RT” plus their Twitter username. This allows you to spread great tweets by others and credit them.
Tweeple/Tweeps – Tweeple is a combination of twitter and people, meaning twitter followers. Tweeps is a similar combination of twitter and peeps (already slang for people).
Tweet/Tweeting – What you call a post on Twitter. Tweeting is what you’re doing when you’re writing posts on Twitter (some people say “twittering” instead).
Twit – A non-pejorative name for a Twitter user (or at least used tongue-in-cheek).
Twittering/Twitting – Another way to say you’re creating posts on Twitter (it means the same as tweeting).
Twoosh – A tweet that uses exactly 140 characters.
URL Shortener – A URL is a web page address. Because of the character limit in Twitter, long URLs would destroy any chance of sending a link to your followers along with a message. A URL shortener service redirects your long URL to a much shorter one that goes to the exact same address, saving space. Twitter does this automatically with URLs that you type or paste into the message window, provided that even with the URL, the message is still less than 140 characters.
How to Set Up Your Twitter Account for Maximum Effectiveness
I’m going to assume you can figure out the sign-up process in a logistical sense. What I’m talking about here is how to do it for the greatest effectiveness in marketing your business.
- Pick as short of a Twitter name as you can that still describes you. The shorter, the better, since you only have 140 characters in a tweet, and that includes the username of anyone you’re replying to or retweeting.
- Don’t put funny symbols or numbers in your name. Why make things more difficult for other people? Underscores or numbers make your Twitter name harder to remember and write correctly. Everyone’s going to have a hard time with a name like M1cha3l_Mart1n3, for example.
- It’s better to use your real name rather than the name of your business. For example, “phillyfamilylaw” is a bit long and impersonal. Even though links on your Twitter profile page don’t pass PageRank for SEO purposes, your Twitter profile page still stands a good chance of ranking highly for your name, so use your real name as your Twitter name if you can. Also, you want to be as “real” as you can. Nobody wants to interact with a corporate entity. They want to talk to people.
- Set your Twitter account settings so that you receive email notifications about follows and direct messages. You may want to turn this off later, but it’s a good idea in the beginning so you know what’s going on and can follow and respond to people.
- Set up your mobile phone/device to use Twitter if you’re so inclined (best if you have a QWERTY keypad on your device, like a BlackBerry).
- Upload a decent-sized nice picture of your smiling face. On Twitter, you want to be a person first, and a business second (it’s better marketing if you do that).
- Customize your Twitter profile by choosing unique colors. Use the same colors as your blog for branding consistency. You can get a fancy Twitter background image, too, if you want.
- Create a Twitter welcome page on your blog (hide it from your blog’s normal navigation). Use this Twitter welcome page as the URL you put in your Twitter profile.
- Your Twitter bio has to be super-short. A good way to do this is to say what you do but also mention something personable about yourself, like this: “Logo designer who loves baseball and reading SF/F.
Your Top Three Priorities When Using Twitter
Your number 1 priority in social media is to provide value to your audience. This is the basis for everything else.
Your number 2 priority is to drive that audience to your blog. This is done in many ways, some of which I detail below, but generally, fulfilling priority number 1 leads to healthy start on priority number 2.
Your number 3 priority is to grow your audience. Taking care of priorities 1 and 2 help with this a lot, but there are specific tactics which will assist in this.
The Tactics Which Support these Priorities
Use TweetDeck as your main Twitter application (this is so much better than using the Twitter website) and learn how to create groups. Create a group for your own tweets so you don’t lose track of what you say to others.
Create a group for the people you really want to pay attention to (wouldn’t want to miss a tweet from) and use it as your main column in TweetDeck instead of All Friends. This allows you to follow many more people than you otherwise would. What that does is cause more people to follow you (because you’re in more places in more people’s profiles). This way you can follow a lot of people without automation (which people hate) but you don’t have to see every single tweet that goes down. I’m not saying that you should ignore the others, I’m saying you’ll just want to pay more attention to the smaller group. I always make sure I give the All Friends group some attention during the day.
There are other applications besides TweetDeck, but so far, none can top it for me. There is even an iPhone app for it and you can synchronize multiple instances on TweetDeck for any number of computers or devices.
Twitter Notification Settings
For as long as you can stand to, have your Twitter settings so that you receive emails when you are followed. Follow people back unless they are obvious spammers or nutjobs. Having a close ratio of followed to followers shows you to be a “hub instead of a “broadcaster or “listener”. Broadcasters have many followers and few followed. Listeners are the opposite (or they’re actually spammers). But a hub has enough of both to be balanced. You want to be a hub or a broadcaster to have reach and influence on twitter.
When you get popular enough, the emails flooding in about new followers will become too great to deal with. At that point, turn that setting off in Twitter. You have reached broadcaster status and it’s no longer practical to deal with that many emails and profile checks. Just let people follow you and if they get on your radar by replying to you, then you can consider whether to follow them back or not.
The Secret to Promoting Yourself is to Promote Others
Retweet and promote other people’s stuff as much as you can. To be blunt, this gets people to like you more and gets them to feel obligated to reciprocate (without you even asking). It provides value to your own followers without you having to hardly even do any work (appeals to the lazy slob in all of us!).
Suggest people to follow. Suggest to your followers that they should be following a particular person you think they would find interesting. Who should you suggest to your followers? Anybody else you find interesting, smart, and entertaining. In other words, suggest people that you find interesting, and chances are your followers will find them interesting, too. They will appreciate you for it.
Make People Feel Special
Send direct messages to people a lot. It makes them feel special and part of your inner circle (which of course they might just be). Use DMs to let others have a scoop on a juicy link. Tell them you thought of them and that they might be interested (I am not for one moment suggesting you should be false about thisâ€“no way. Be real, but do it and it will work wonders for you).
Compliment people publicly and privately. Both kinds of compliments make your followers feel special-and it makes you feel good, too. When others see you handing out compliments, they will follow you. Compliments strengthen your followers’ bond with you. Find something about the person you genuinely like and be specific in your compliment. As always, be real.
Provide Help without Expecting Anything Back
Being genuinely helpful is one of the best things you can do. Jonathan Fields is a perfect example of this. He doesn’t come on Twitter in the morning and blast his own links. Instead, he comes on and asks “Who can I help today?” It’s a wonderful example.
In fact, if you want to provide help and show off your subject matter expertise at the same time, use tools like Monitter, Twitter search, or the search capability of TweetDeck to look for keywords that signal someone needs the kind of help you provide.
This is karma in action.
Being retweetable extends your reach and grows your followers in a good way. Sometimes I sit in amazement and watch as retweet after retweet appears on my screen from something I’ve tweeted. I’ve made it into a little game I play to see how many retweets I get: the better the content of the tweet is, the more retweets it will get.
Break news. If you have the ability to break news on twitter that’s relevant to your followers, do it: this is practically guaranteed â€œretweet cityâ€ for you.
Don’t use all 140 characters if you want others to retweet your stuff. Give them room to add RT or retweet to it in front of your Twitter handle. Keep your tweets down to 120 characters for better retweetability.
Privately request others to retweet your stuff by DM (and you do the same for them when asked).
Secrets to Growing Your Followers
This is the subject of many a spammy autofollow sleazebag tactic, I know. However, that doesn’t mean you should be unconcerned with growing your followers. Growing them just to grow them is not the goal. Having followers is not the ends, it’s the means to an end. And when you’re marketing a business, that end is better relationships with people, which creates more leads and sales. It also helps your blog traffic considerably.
In other words, quantity vs. quality is not an either/or proposition. You can have both. You can have quality interactions with only so many people, and after that what you have is audience to broadcast to. If that many people want to hear what you say, good for them (and good for you, too).
Use Mr. Tweet to find other people on Twitter in your marketing niche and follow them. Many will follow you back, and theyâ€™re relevant to you and your existing followers.
Engage in conversations with top tweeters. Top tweeters are people who tweet a lot and who also have a lot of followers. The more followers a person has, the more likely those followers are to notice you, and the more likely they are to follow you.
Ask your followers to recommend you to their followers. This one takes a little guts, but if you know the other person well enough, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it. Most people are happy to do this for you, they just didnâ€™t think of it. You can do this via reciprocal arrangement through DMs.
Ask your blog readers to follow you on Twitter. And along the same lines, put a widget on your blog that has your latest tweets and/or the count of your Twitter followers.
Put a link to your Twitter profile page in the biography you include when you submit guest posts to other blogs (which means you should be guest-posting on other blogs).
Leave comments on blogs that let you include your twitter name, such asÂ TwiTip by ProBlogger Darren Rowse.
Sign up for TweetBeep, a service similar to Google Alerts, but for tweets. This will help you go where the conversations are happening that youâ€™re interested in. Engaging with others will get you more followers.
What NOT to do on Twitter
If you avoid these blunders, you will do well and prosper on Twitter, growing your followers and extending your influence.
- Donâ€™t just post links to your own blog posts.
- Donâ€™t tout your services incessantly.
- Donâ€™t whine or complain.
- Donâ€™t drink and tweet.
- Donâ€™t dispense professional advice which could get you in legal trouble.
- Donâ€™t do anything exclusively (too many replies, too many links, too many retweetsâ€“balance it out).
- Donâ€™t jump into the middle of someone elseâ€™s conversation without understanding the previous tweets in it.
- Donâ€™t keep tweeting the same exact tweet over and over again.
- Donâ€™t tweet a million times an hour.
- Donâ€™t send automated â€œwelcomeâ€ direct messages through services such as TweetLater (TweetLater is great, just donâ€™t use that particular â€œfeatureâ€) because people completely hate that.
- Don’t be a jerk (do I even need to say this? but it’s so easy to get angry and shoot your virtual mouth off).
The Tools Which Support Your Tactics
Some tools have already been mentioned, because they are so important to successful Twitter marketing. There are a staggering number of tools and services available, but we really only need to cover the best of the bunch in order to respect your time and provide the best results.
TweetBeep – Lets you track keywords in Twitter and receive emails about them. Fantastic canâ€™t-live-without-service! Track your own names/internet properties and keywords related to your practice area.
TweetDeck – Undisputed king of the hill of Twitter desktip applications, and for good reason. You can create groups of followers, search, post pictures, and more. Highly recommended.
TwitterBerry – Popular Twitter application for your BlackBerry.
Tweetie – Rated the best Twitter application for iPhone.
CeTwit – Twitter application for Windows Mobile.
TweetLater – Lets you post-date tweets so you can tweet consistently, even when youâ€™re busy doing other things. The interface is a little hard to navigate, but itâ€™s a great tool to use.
HootSuite – Lets you post to more than one Twitter account or have multiple users behind one single Twitter account. Probably more useful for firms than solos. Also lets you track clicks on links you send to your followers in Twitter.
Twellowhood – Helps you located and follow people in your localeâ€“perfect for connecting with locals and getting media connections/attention & clients!
TweetSuite for WordPress is a plugin which has an incredible set of features for integrating Twitter with your WordPress blog.
How to Make Money on Twitter
I’ve hardly said this to anyone, but I have made thousands of dollars on Twitter. When you think of people making money on Twitter, you probably think of spammers and scammers, right?
Well, I didn’t do it by spamming anyone or autofollowing or doing anything devious. I did it honestly, by providing value to my followers. Some of the ways in which I do that result in money coming into my bank account. That’s what you call a win-win situation. To me, that’s the right way to make money on Twitter.
The ways in which I make money on Twitter are listed below. There nothing secret or unethical about them:
Lead Generation for Services
If you’re marketing your business on Twitter, and you’re doing it right, you’ll get leads and opportunities aplenty, which translates into more money for you. Twitter is the ultimate networking tool. This is an indirect and highly effective way to boost your income. I have acquired blog consulting clients because of my Twitter networking and by helping others.
If you engage in affiliate selling, you can post affiliate links in your tweets. The “rules” for this are the same as for affiliate marketing on your blog: the product on the other end of that affiliate needs to be highly relevant and beneficial to your followers. If I would be doing my followers a favor by tweeting the link even if it wasn’t an affiliate link, that’s how I know it’s fine to tweet it as an affiliate. I only tweet affiliate links for products/people I believe in and trust, and my followers know that. If you do this right, an affiliate link is just another valuable resource you’re providing your followers. For me, tweeting affiliate links is much more than just making money: it’s about helping my friends succeed.
I know it’s easy to take this too far, and many over-eager knucklehead marketers do. If you’re not providing value with every tweet, you’re going to lose the game: you soon won’t have anyone to market to because you’ll be unfollowed or even blocked. But I would never say “never tweet affiliate links.”
Links to Your Own Products and Services
Hell yes. If you have your own products or services, there is nothing wrong with tweeting direct links, as long as it’s relevant to your followers and balanced in the mix (you always have to keep these in mind). I and many folks I know have done this with astounding results. Don’t shy away from this. There’s nothing spammy or dishonest about letting people know you have something that will benefit them. Your followers like you or they wouldn’t be following you.
- From the perspective of marketing your practice, Twitter is the greatest thing since blogging itself. Itâ€™s â€œwhere the party is,â€ and you donâ€™t want to miss the opportunities that come from that.
- The three most important priorities are for using Twitter effectively are: 1) provide value to your audience, 2) send traffic back to your blog, and 3) grow your audience.
- Twitter has its own lingo, and you need to learn it. Luckily, it seems all you have to do is combine the words â€œtweet,â€ â€œtwit,â€ or â€œtwitterâ€ with other words.
- The tactics which support each of the three priorities are: use the right tools, promote others, be retweetable, make others feel special, and grow your followers.
- Setting up Twitter for maximum effectiveness involves some careful thought and a good picture of your happy smiling face.
- Avoid blunders such as over-promoting yourself, your services, or your blog.
- Use powerful tools to fulfill your Twitter marketing objectives, such as TweetDeck and Twollow.
- You can indeed make money on Twitter by getting leads, by tweeting affiliate links, and by tweeting links directly to your own products and services.
Blogging is no longer an act isolated from social media, and Twitter is fast becoming the left hand to bloggingâ€™s right hand. With a bit of common sense, effort, and the right tools, you can make Twitter amplify your online presence and get fantastic results.