In a recent article, I made a generalization about Twitter only being used to drive traffic to a designer’s web site or blog. There were a couple of comments, stating I was wrong. Sure, it was a generalization to save 1,200 words, telling people what they already knew, but in face-to-face discussions with peers and a few private messages received, there have been some interesting points made about Twitter and the power, as well as the problems it presents. It’s amazing what can be said in just 140 characters and the power a tweet can wield.
Recent tweets from users in the Middle East, about protests and government responses, broadcasting news long before mainstream news sources could even get close, shows the global influence and communication possibilities. So why do people still think tweets about their buying a cup of coffee is tweet-worthy?
As with any digital communication network, Twitter is not alone when it comes to foolishness. I once wrote, referring to client who asked what good is Twitter, that it is “a billboard along a highway you pass at seventy miles-per-hour.” That was perhaps too simplistic but for the client’s usage, it was perfect. What IS the proper usage? How can you avoid users ‘muting’ you? It depends but there are uses that are just a waste of bandwidth and openings for spammers and twits.
Twitter Can Become a Passion
What can I say? Like all creatives, I get passionate about things but you wouldn’t read an article entitled, “Why I Get Too Passionate About Twitter” or “Twitter is the Bestest!” I believe in Twitter and the power it has to communicate. I see my articles tweeted and retweeted and find inspiration and connections each and every day via the tool. I also spend too much time weeding out the spammers and followers that will merely clog my feed… or worse.
I’m sure you’ve received one or several of the annoying tweets that claim someone is writing bad things about you on the web, which in my case is a legitimate claim with some… or most of the article I write, or the simple tweet “@(you)” with a link that once clicked upon will give you the options of clicking “OK” to the free iPad or having to escape out of your browser to avoid whatever malware is about to be plunged like a knife into the gut of your hard drive. God forbid you click it via your smart phone because there is no option, at least on my Galaxy, to escape and then there are nights of tossing and turning, wondering what consequences clicking “OK” just to be able to use the web app again will bring.
I check out each and every follower who pops up throughout the day.
- Fellow creatives – OK.
- Certain businesses or design studios that might be my competition – OK.
- App developers and software sellers – OK
- Bands and DJs – sometimes, if they seem like prospects for freelance work.
- Real estate developers in Costa Rica – OK but only because I want to retire there.
- People with lots of followers but not one tweet – NO
- People with a few thousand followers but they do not follow anyone back – NO. They aren’t going to do my business any good because they aren’t seeing my tweets (they follow and unfollow quickly to gain followers).
- People who do nothing but post quotes from dead celebrities, poets and statesmen – NO, unless it’s Dorothy Parker!
- People who are only tweeting thanks to others for who-knows-what and secret little LOL messages – NO. I’m not part of that private party and don’t want to attend.
- People who tweet where they are having lunch or coffee – YES but only to reply that I’m robbing their house and then I unfollow.
As I said, people have different reasons for using Twitter. Mine is to post messages to that aforementioned “billboard” and share information.
Can Twitter Connect People?
In the comments of the article I mentioned at the start of this piece, one young designer, who is still in school, wrote;
I use Twitter on a daily basis, to share articles I think other creatives would interesting and to engage in conversations with others in the industry to discuss or find out more about a topic. It’s also great for freelancer, with opportunities to network with companies like design studios who can hire me for projects. [sic]
There is nothing wrong with that. Many people unselfishly share inspiration and education via tweets and it’s not only helpful to others but if you are known for finding great material, you will pick up quality followers.
Twitter will connect people as well as sell to them, but you need to target your twets, like this young designer does toward design studios.
Quality, not Quantity!
I suppose if you only follow close friends and they follow you, tweeting about your whereabouts makes sense, hoping someone may join you… if they are reading your tweets the very second you post them. If I go to the bathroom, which I’ve been known to do every now and then, I come back to see there are 1,200 new tweets awaiting me… and I don’t follow that many people in the scheme of average follows. It’s following those lists that floods my feed with people included who I don’t follow directly. Yet something else that can be of help or hindrance.
When I look at the profile pages of people who have followed me on that specific day, I have to wonder why someone who is listed as “mom, craft lover, Oprah fan and optimist” has 317,895 followers. The answer is, she (or possibly he… don’t ask, don’t tell) is being followed by follow collectors, spammers, coupon deals and the Snuggie®. While I have always thought that every connection is a prospective client, I use that philosophy at LinkedIn and not Twitter. As with any targeted marketing plan, you need to identify your prospects and focus on reaching them.
So, is the young designer who targets design studios for freelance work correct? Yes but who else does he target? His follow numbers were very low, not that it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have quality connections but if it’s that low, there are more effective ways of communicating with more prospects. Still, we all need to start with one follower and build from there.
Twitter Doesn’t Rely on Followers
If you want to use Twitter for marketing, then there are apps available to help you track, organize and make the most of the social media tool.
One of the best ways to entice people into following you, aside from bribes and blackmail, is to reach out via a hashtag. Hashtagging specific interests like #webdesign will have your tweet seen by non-followers. These non-followers in turn will retweet your tweets to more people. It’s a great way to go viral and it doesn’t rely upon your follow numbers.
Hashtracking is currently in closed beta but you can email for inclusion. This app is great for tracking your hashtags and can be used for presentations if you need to show analytics to social media customers or your boss.
The app will determine how many Tweets there were posted, how many people you have reached and the number of retweets received. Additionally you will get a display of the top 10 users from the hashtag, which is very helpful to identify key players in the field to help build a quality following or just to follow the top Twitter users for that interest, which is a strength for any company with a targeted audience.
Twitsprout is one of the favorite all-in-one analytics tools (in beta with free sign up). Whether you are just interested in being a serious Twitter user or need to quantify your social media efforts to a client, this tool will help you put it all in one place.
Although Twitter now automatically shortens URLs, you probably want to consider Bit.ly if you need analytics for your link tweeting. A free Bit.ly account will give you access to a dashboard where you can shorten and share links to multiple Twitter accounts, which can be helpful for large businesses that have multiple departments, individuals that have several social media clients that have the same target audience and individuals with multiple personalities who want to tweet where each one is having lunch or coffee. You can also see the stats for any Bit.ly links you share through your dashboard and plug your Bit.ly API key into several supporting management apps to get stats for links you share through those applications as well.
Considering the follow limits slapped on Twitter accounts, you sometimes need to clean house of non-followers and inactive accounts. Justunfollow is the broom that will give you a 50 person per day ability to remove those selfish, horrid, I-thought-they-were-my-friends-and-I-will-destroy-them-without-mercy… sorry but I was shocked to see those who weren’t following me when I grabbed the image for this article… but I digress.
Removing more is part of the premium service but do you really need to remove more than 50 people per day?
There is also an easy click to see who is following you but without you following back and a button to see which accounts are inactive but just taking up precious follow limits.
Manageflitter is another program for tracking people who follow, unfollow, treat you like dirt when you open your heart to them and they stomp on it because… but I digress. This app has some functionality that Justunfollow does not. For one, you can download a CSV backup file of your Twitter connections.
Manageflitter has quite a sense of humor you need to see by actually going onto the site but aside from a twitter of laughter, it does have some great features for keeping a clean and trim feed and the pleasure of unfollowing those ingrates who are just oh too good to follow you back!
Now that the pleasure and nasty thoughts of digital revenge is covered, use whotweeted me to pinpoint those who love and support you and your 140 character gems.
The site claims the app “will analyze a URL and show you its most influential retweeters, potential reach and timeline. Due to Twitter API limitations, It works best on blog post URLs that are between 1 day and 2 weeks old.” Topsy and Tweetmeme promises the same but I’ve noticed they have tweet number listed that don’t match the original source of my articles, so user beware of promised analytics.
Buffer the vampire slayer? Well, while some sleep, others are tweeting. There are those who say there are optimal times to tweet for maximum views and possible retweets. The tweet world moves fast and your tweet may zoom past follower’s feeds too quickly to be seen and appreciated.
Every morning you can load your Buffer with a few tweets and the app posts them for you at optimal times over the day. One of the great things here is that you can add tweets to your Buffer from any website with one of the browser extensions. Best of all, with every tweet you send via Buffer, you will get detailed analytics about how many clicks it received, retweets made and the reach that tweet has made. How cool is that!?
You might also want to check out timely.is/#/. It touts the same service with ‘maximum impact!’
Too many people ignore the list function on Twitter. It’s an important part of pinpointing followers for specific tweets. Believe it or not, I have followers who want to read my articles, which shows there’s no accounting for taste. Foolishly, I have also ignored my own lists, preferring to rely on the lists others have created with my tweets on them as I lazily forget to add new followers to certain lists. Well, foolish no more with Formulists!
With Formulists you can easily set up certain triggers that will put others into the right list you have chosen. So if someone retweets, mentions or follows you, you can have them in the right list of your network without doing anything. That’s a great function for those of us who aren’t great at filing, maintaining lists or keeping up with our laundry… but I digress. A great advantage with Formulists is that it automatically keeps a tab on the most engaged people in your network for you… but it won’t do your laundry… but it will give you more time to ignore the ever-growing pile in the corner of your bedroom.
Want followers AND have them spread your viral material? Cloudflood gives you the power to give away content and have those who want it provide you with tweet and like power as well as giving you analytics with certain contact information for more marketing power.
Give away the first chapter in your ebook, a cartoon or two from your upcoming series, photos, etoys, etc. A terrific tool to get your new initiative hyped and amped!
There are literally hundreds of apps for you to use to become a savvy power user. Take a look at this list from Twitip but it will take you a week to go through them all, which is why I’m not going to list them all here!
If you have some time left over, then you might want to check out this handy list of apps, too!
Don’t forget to check Mashable for their lists… as if you would! Apps will continue to be released so it’s best to keep up with the technology. Twitter is a very powerful tool and will continue to be so. It’s doubtful any other site will ever overtake it for ease and popularity. Keep an eye onMashable for the latest releases.
Making Twitter Better
You can try putting your Twylah page in your Twitter bio, in your email signature or on your blog. It is a great way to extend your Tweeting efforts with no extra effort! An added benefit is all of your Tweets are also indexed in Google via Twylah, which is a great way to get more SEO oomph out of your tweets.
Embrace Twitter Tools
Leave the quoters and lunchers in the dust where they belong! You now have the tools at your fingertips to become a savvy power user. If you are going to spend the time using Twitter at all, why not use it in the smartest way possible? Whether you are tweeting for your own freelance business or for a company that underpays you and thinks you are a geek that deserves no respect and an office that’s really an old broom closet with a leaky ceiling and rats as your only friends… but I digress, these tools will make people stand up and pay attention.
Now that your head is spinning from all of these wonderful, helpful apps, how about a couple of apps that will help you tie it all together?
You’ve probably heard of Hootsuite. A “freemium” tool, which means that you can use the free plan if you have fewer than five social profiles to manage – the Pro version for unlimited social profiles including enhanced analytics isn’t too out of reach for even the least involved social media geek, costing only $5.99USD per month. The great thing about tools like this is you can tie together all of your social media outlets and view them through one source, somewhat like an evil James Bond villain. So, sign up and think of what evil name you want as a user. “Jaws” is taken, but I don’t think “Fingers” is.
Some people prefer Tweetdeck to Hootsuite.
They’re both powerful tools and I suggest you try both to see what best suits your needs and likes. It has features similar features to HootSuite in terms of creating columns to organize your Twitter activity as well as the ability to send longer messages using their Deck.ly service, which creates a shortened URL that directs followers to the rest of your tweet beyond 140 characters… if you just can’t stop blabbering on… like me but try to write an entire article in 140 characters!
*NOTE: The writer and FirstSiteGuide.com does not officially recommend or support any of these apps and only presents them for the reader’s information. There is no guarantees promised or implied.
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