How to Really Use Twitter for Business & Communication 101
As a social media consultant or maybe I should say enthusiast, I hear some of the same questions repeatedly. It seems that the availability of social media tools is growing faster than people’s ability to understand how to use them. For many, social media is not the main job they have to do in a day. Even so, these same people understand that at some point they will need to function in the world of Web 2.0.
I’d like to answer some of the questions that I have been asked in my job as a social media consultant. The most obvious place to start seems to be with the notion that social media is a waste of time. There’s no tool that people feel is more useless than Twitter.
The Problems Some People Have With Twitter
There is too much noise with Twitter. How can I follow the conversation when millions of people are all talking at once?
If I find the people I know or want to know how can I have actual conversations?
How do I use Twitter for growing business? I can’t devise a strategy that makes sense for selling my products or services.
First Things First: Filter Your Conversations
Before we can talk about getting business with Twitter or any other social media tool, we have to begin with organization.
When we filter something, it means we sift it to remove any unwanted particles. I may be the only one left old enough to remember when my mother used to sift flour. She sifted it to get rid of clumps and anything else that would not be wanted in a recipe. Sometimes she added ingredients and wanted those to be mixed well. (Well, this is what I remember about that anyway)
With Twitter, the same concept applies. It is necessary to get rid of the clumps of useless conversations from among the 17 million (Americans) who actively tweet. There are two ways that you can accomplish this.
First, the easy way…Use Twitter Lists
Twitter gives us a way to pull out the conversations we really want to be a part of and put them in a separate place. That’s the most basic description of a twitter list. For example, if you are an aspiring author and you want to meet published authors, literary agents and publishers then you could have a list for each one. As you follow people who fit into one of these categories, you could decide to pull them out of the big pile and put them on a list so that all their conversations are more easily accessible.
It is easy to create a Twitter list. Here are the steps:
Go to your account on Twitter.com
On the right-hand side, you’ll see your profile picture and bio, the number of people you follow, those who follow you and the number of lists where your tweets are listed. (Didn’t know that did you?)
Keep looking down the side bar until you see the Lists category. If you have already created a list or two, you’ll see them here. If not, you’ll see the button to create a “new list”.
This button opens a dialogue box so you can name a list. You can also decide whether you want the list to be private or for public viewing. Now, a little caution is in order here. When I first discovered the list feature, I just started added lists like crazy and putting someone on it. Later, I realized that I had not really thought about my strategy for putting a person on a certain list. My lists were confusing and less effective. However, now that I have a better understanding of why I am following some people I have gone back and moved people to other lists or created new lists. It’s not impossible to reorganize your lists but it is time consuming. I wish I had thought about it a little more initially.
Therefore, my suggestion is to create about three basic lists first. Those lists could be Friends/Family, Co-Workers, and Retail. Do you get the picture? The first two lists should be fairly easy to populate with the appropriate people and the third could be your favorite places to shop.
How do you find people to put on your lists? I think the hardest part about finding the conversations you want to be a part of is getting creative with search.
Have you ever been reading a magazine or newspaper and see the Twitter symbol? Well, that means you could follow that business or person on Twitter. Perhaps you want to follow what’s happening with the environment and you have no idea who to follow in that arena. Try going to a blog directory site like Technorati. A simple search on the term “environment” brought up over 6,000 blogs. Now you can look at the first 5 or 10 and determine if any of those authors have authority. Follow the ones you want.
The same thing applies for business communication. Are you selling B2B and need to get close to the CEO of your city’s top 10 businesses. Start by looking at their website. Does the CEO blog? When they blog they almost certainly tweet? Follow the ones you want on the appropriate list. Just listen at first then just add to the conversation by asking a question, retweeting, or sending a direct message. But do be careful here. Selling to top executives is often a lengthy process but it can be shortened by meeting up with them on Twitter and skipping the gatekeeper.
Now, I know I said there are two ways to use Twitter lists effectively for following conversations and meeting people. Keep coming back to our blog. Over the next few weeks we’ll delve more deeply into Twitter, Facebook, and blogging as a means for communicating and developing business.