Categorized | social marketing

Your first steps on Twitter

The day is coming.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or small business owner, you’ll eventually have to dive into the social media marketing pool with the rest of us. Right now, of course, that means — at a minimum — launching some kind of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn campaign.

But unless you’ve grown up on Twitter, you’re probably at sea as to what precisely you should be doing with it. Remember: as an entrepreneur, the most valuable asset you have is your own time, so frittering it away twittering is one more reason your startup or small biz will go bust.

So, if you’re new to the Twitter world, our staff here at Shoestring Venture have drawn up a set of first steps to get the most out of what Twitter has to offer. After the break, of course.

Immediately after setting up your Twitter account . . .
Start looking for people and businesses to follow. You’re looking for best-in-class twitterers, like CNN or Oprah, and models in industries similar to yours. Follow these people and businesses for a while. Let your gut be your guide. Which ones do you like? Which ones do you follow? What do they say in their tweets? How do they maintain your interest? How often do you hear from them? Your first step on Twitter, then, is to learn how to do it right. I can’t stress this enough. I have worked with entrepreneurs all over the globe who want to go from 0 to 60 on Twitter the second the registration complete. Don’t sweat it. If you haven’t been using Twitter to promote your business, services, or products for the last two years, well, two weeks ain’t going to be life or death.

Tweet on a schedule
All social media marketing is a bog with insidious quicksand traps ready to suck you in. And Twitter is no exception. I once said many years ago that magazines were the last refuge of an undisciplined mind. Well, social media marketing is the last refuge of an undisciplined marketer. If you do social media marketing, do it right. Treat it like you’re training for a marathon. You have a schedule and an output. Stick to it. Over time, you will determine the optimal number of times you should send out tweets (once per hour, once per day, twice per week, whatever) to maximize interest without boring people. The important thing is this: set a schedule for tweeting and keep to it like your soul depended on it. You don’t want to find yourself breaking the discipline by either skipping tweets or wasting your time over-tweeting. Remember: you have a business to run.

Followers and friends are not opt-in direct mail targets
The biggest mistake I come across in social media marketing is treating a list of followers or friends as if it were an opt-in email list. These folks gain friends and followers and send one ad after another to them. Your friends and followers don’t want ads, they want value. They want to read an interesting little sentence or learn from a great blog or article. So the next step you need to take is figuring out what you’re going to say that isn’t an advertisement. Here, the models you’ve been following will help. To a degree. In the end, a good Twitter campaing involves talking about yourself, your industry, good advice, movies you like. It’s the one marketing forum that leaves you room to kvetch, joke, gossip, and have a good time. Here’s the difference between social media marketing and regular marketing: you succeed at social media marketing only if you get people to like you. That’s the goal — the marketing results build from that. But if your inspiration ends at ads, then you might as well just give up now. And, above everything else, Twitter and all other social media marketing is a two-way street. Someone talks to you, you respond. Every time. No exceptions. And never forget that everything you say is public. It may feel good to flame someone, but all your hot-headed, indiscreet, brand-killing words are deliciously scandalous morsels for the whole world to enjoy. Just ask Lois Whitman.

Your sense of humor is one of your most valuable assets
Go to any dating site in the world and look over women’s profiles (forget the men because, well, you know how they think). On practically every single one you’ll see some variation of “I like men who make me laugh” as one of their top dating criteria. Well, learn from that. Being able to make people grin, giggle, or guffaw is your most valuable tool for building a following and keeping it. So, your next step is figuring out how to be funny within the limitations of the medium and the expectations of the audience. In the rock-em-sock-em world of follower-finding, fun always wins.

Line up topics all the time
Social media marketing, like blogging, forces you to rethink your every day experience. Once you have to write something one to four times a day — whether it’s a 1,000 word blog or a 140 character tweet — then you begin to face the horrible prospect that you may have nothing to say when the time comes. So, rather than find solace at the bottom of a bottle, you solve the problem by, well, starting to pay attention. From the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep, you’re being bombarded with things to talk about. Interactions with customers. Vendors. Things you’ve seen in a movie. Articles you’ve read. Complaints you’ve received. All day, every day, you’re being bombarded with interesting, valuable, funny, and important things to tweet (and blog) about. There is, in fact, no business so boring that you couldn’t generate ten or twelve knock-em-dead interesting or fun tweets (and half a dozen blogs) from your daily experience. You, my friend, just have to sit up and notice. That, to my mind, is the most rewarding aspect of social media marketing, blogging, or just plain writing: you suddenly start paying attention to just how interesting, funny, valuable, and inspirational your life, job, family, and business really is. So your next step is to start documenting all this stuff. Carry a notebook, a PDA, whatever. When you see, hear, or experience something, write it down and put it in the Twitter queue.

Don’t sweat the follower count
Believe it or not, if you build it, they will come. If you’re posting fun, interesting, and useful tweets, the word will get around (that’s the joy of social media marketing). In fact, if you follow our first step and just sign up to follow a bunch of people, you’ll find yourself with a nice group of followers before you even move to the next step. Even a small group of followers is a long-term business builder. You may not be Ashton Kutcher or Oprah Winfrey, but if you keep to your schedule and post quality tweets, you’ll get your audience.

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