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5 Tips for Incorporating Twitter into Your Social Networking Strategy

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Social networking is all about connecting and building a community. To me, it’s really no different from socializing in “real life”. Sure, it may be a little more difficult because you can’t hear the person’s tone of voice or see the twinkle in their eye that lets you know they’re kidding but it still is a matter of getting to know each other, building trust and establishing meaningful and hopefully mutually beneficial relationships.

As we reach the end of 2010, I’d like to share a few simple Twitter tips that I’ve learned in my very first year of blogging.

# 1 – Personalize Your Profile & Background

Your Twitter profile is an extension of your brand. At the very least, try to incorporate your colors and your logo. The main challenge with designing a Twitter background is that it will look different on different monitors due to the various resolutions.

Check out this great article “HOW TO: Customize Your Background for the New Twitter” that Kimberly Castleberry refers to (in her comment below) to learn how! Don’t forget to use keywords in your bio but make it interesting.

# 2 – Your User ID is Part of Your Brand

If you haven’t created a user ID yet, keep in mind that Twitter only allows 15 characters for your user name. This is a good place to register your ID first and then hop over to the other key social networking sites and reserve it there. If you want to check to see the availability of your user Id first, go to KnowEm. Be sure to go to Gravatar while you’re at it. Upload a picture and tie it to your email address and URL of your website.

# 3 – Have a Strategic Goal in Mind

Why are you tweeting? Are you looking to build awareness of your brand? Are you looking to build your online community? If your intention is to use social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to engage potential blog readers, clients and/or customers, this should be a clear goal. One way to build awareness and online credibility is by mixing your tweets with valuable information and joining conversations. Ask questions, retweet and show appreciation to your followers.

# 4 – Build Your Following

Some people pursue Twitter as if it’s a game to see who can get the most followers. That’s fine for some but if you’re looking for quality versus quantity, you may be better off building a following slowly. Keep in mind your goals and search for people who have similar interests. One thing to remember is to try to keep the number of people that you are following relatively close to the number of people that follow you. It helps build your credibility. I’m very careful who I follow. I don’t follow someone just because they’re following me. To me, it’s important to have people in my online community that I can learn from and who I respect.

# 5 –Think Before You Tweet

Tweet thoughtfully. Try to add value by sharing information. Make sure you always leave room for someone to retweet your tweets. (In my case, I leave 13 characters – for “RT @keepupweb”). Try to write post titles that include keywords and are true to your content. Tweet several times during the day. I used to think that people would tire from seeing the same tweet more than once a day. In reality, by tweeting in the morning, afternoon, evening and late at night, I’m increasing the number of people who will see my tweets. I’m hitting different time zones and chances are the same people are not seeing the same tweets.

There are lots more Twitter tips out there. I just thought I’d cover the basics. What are your favorite tips for tweeting?

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By Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

45 replies on “5 Tips for Incorporating Twitter into Your Social Networking Strategy”

Thank God there are people who still find that tweets are not ways to show off and get the whole world to notice your every move. You should always add value in any tweet or at least give information on exciting new events. Thanks for the great post!

Glad you found them helpful Joey! It’s good to see you on here. I know you’re looking for tips to build awareness of your brand. So, I’d like to suggest that you go to http://www.gravatar.com and set up a globally recognized avatar. That way, the next time you comment here (and on other blogs), your profile pic will pop up. That way, we know you’re human and we’ll get to recognize you. Making a personal connection is a great way to build awareness.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..3 Ways to Build Awareness and Get Ideas for Your Website BlogMy Profile

You’re right Sherryl.
Twitter is a very good source of for traffic. However, I still got to learn how tell everything in just 140 characters. Conversations is my main problem in twitter that’s why I refer to do conversations on my FB page.

Excellent! since Twitter has so much few details available for users to put we must be wise in providing what we can.. I use my Twitter for business and to increase my FB page like by redirecting my followers to it.

Sherryl:

It is not a numbers game. I do like when people are following me each day. However, the key is to figure out your purpose on Twitter and then fulfill it. I use HootSuite and just upgraded to the Pro version for a 30 day trial to see other functionality.

I wrote on a similar topic with the post Why Should I Be on Twitter and What Should I Do First? http://bit.ly/gFI0rX

Thanks for sharing your experience and advice.

Rob
Rob Berman recently posted..Does Your Logo Equal Your BrandMy Profile

Hey Sherryl, some solid stuff there as always! In the first section where you are talking about customizing the profile you might want to link to the post – believe it’s by mashable but could be SME – that lists the exact size limitations of the left hand area that can be customized on the new profiles. Its a lot smaller and more restrictive than the previous layout and that post with all the dimensions is really handy for anyone getting branding art made so they can just hand it to their designer. I seem to recall the post even included the PSD file that was scaled to the right dimensions. Would be a nice compliment to the rest of these tips 🙂
Kimberly
Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..Create Advanced Affiliate Links For MaxBlogPress Blog PostsMy Profile

Good tips Sherryl. I use Twitter in a couple of ways and one is observing. I use search and have lists that I monitor on Tweetdeck. Also there are a couple of others I interact with and just have a bit of fun which is like having a laugh around the coffee machine. It is one way to get others to also join in and not take ourselves so seriously.

I do agree with your point about leaving space as only today I wanted to add a comment and RT but there was no room so I didn’t do it.

Susan, I love the idea of the coffee machine. I need to have more fun with Twitter too. Last night I followed a tweet about a site that lets you search YouTube videos for music. I found myself listening to old 70’s music while I was working. Now that was fun!

Great tips as always. Twitter has been a great tool for me. It allowed me to bring traffic to my blog and also meet some great people. I even got a few projects from it, but I’m still having trouble with the following. I get lost of people who follow me and then don’t. I guess it’s because I don’t always follow them. Forgive me if I’m not interested in your online casino twitter feed. I really try to follow people who are like-minded who like the occasional funny video or story. We got to play sometimes, right?
Dennis Salvatier recently posted..What Is Graphic Design And Why Do You Need ItMy Profile

Dennis, I count you as a success story with Twitter since you know you’ve obtained projects through it. Up until recently, I did not track people who stopped following me. (I just signed up for TWUnfollow to track this.) There are some people I absolutely will not follow no matter whether they stop following me or not and there are others that I follow because they’re funny or they tweet about something interesting that I know nothing about.

“Online casino twitter feed” – I like that! Very funny. 🙂

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned two tools that make tracking your tweets easier — HootSuite and Tweetdeck. I just started using HootSuite and I’m able to follow the tweets of people of interest to me as well as mentions and RTs of my stream.

I’ve gotta agree with Jeannette, I’d be lost without hootsuite, new profiles or not…. beyond lists I use quite a few custom columns to keep keyword searches and particular peoples feeds at my fingertips. I absolutely adore the hootlet for quickly sharing something to my facebook page when I’m browsing and too lazy to manually cut and paste to get it to go to my page not profile. I also do a lot of tweet scheduling, if you ask me to share a blog post of your’s I’m going to schedule it to hit peek traffic hours instead of the middle of the night when I likely saw your message… I want the best exposure for the best content. Oh yeah and if I need to quickly share an image with someone, I save it to my pc and drag it into the hootsuite message box (making sure to select my account first), and it auto uploads it and turns it into an owly that when clicked displays the image, I actually use this to share screenshots in comments on facebook, just copy pasting the URL, far quicker than running out to twitpick and less of a nuciance to copy the url than uploading to facebooks albums (particularly if its a “this is what I see” that wont be useful later or to anyone else) and using their real long urls. And, one thing I miss about not having gone pro yet was the ability to sort columns by Klout which basically filtered out majority of the noise. So much to love and only one real bug with the application. I couldn’t live without it.
Kim
Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..Easy Comment for Firefox Speeds Up Leaving Comments On Blogs!My Profile

“Hootlet?” “Owly?” Ok . . . Clearly, I haven’t given HootSuite enough of a chance! Well, I said I’d like to understand why it was so popular. Thanks you two! I’m off to learn Hootsuite.

Very helpful post Sherryl. There are still quite a few people who are just getting started with Twitter. Recently, I read several bloggers write they automatically unfollow anyone who auto DM’s them – even if it’s a “thanks for the follow” via auto DM. I find this interesting and am glad I never set up an autoresponder.

Thanks Catherine. That’s good to know. I personally dislike autoresponders but I think automatically unfollowing them is a little drastic unless they’re simply following everyone who follows them. In that case, they may not be seriously interested in building a targeted following.

I’m not huge into the whole Twitter scene, but it makes sense that you would really think through your Twitter ID. It seems like it would be just as important as a url for a website or blog.

I actually reserved the domain name keepupweb.com as part of my branding and forward it here. (I wish there were some way to tell in Google Analytics if anyone actually comes to my blog through it.) I haven’t really intentionally directed anyone to that domain name but I could.

Why can’t you tell if anyone comes through that to your blog? I’m sure I’m misunderstanding something – you aren’t looking for the referring sites functionality of Analytics are you?

301 redirects are not tracked as referring sites. There is a way to pass URL parameters but honestly, I don’t think it would be the best use of my time to read about and implement it. It may be easier than I think but I don’t really know what I would do with the information other than satisfy my curiosity. I am curious if anyone else has reserved their twitter name as a domain though.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Twitter a Distraction or a Referral Source Take My PollMy Profile

Hi Sherryl,

I have not approached very many in order to follow; for whatever reason, most follow me first. I think I may show up in the “Similar to You” area, or someone sees my name being retweeted. I tried to follow a whole bunch at once to see what would happen, and only a few followed back anyway.

I don’t follow everyone back–only those with a real website that looks like they are both serious and competent. LOL, and I don’t follow back someone with a zillion followers, yet has only 3 or 4 tweets themselves. (How do they do that, anyway???)

If a new follower wants my attention, they will often RT me, which is a nice nudge to get me to follow back.

And that leads me to my main point. It doesn’t matter how many followers I have, or how many they have. If they don’t tweet me to their followers, there isn’t much to gain by having them clutter up my viewer–unless I’m simply looking for notches on my belt, which I’m not.

I don’t need to announce the number of my “followers” on my website to impress newbies. That real estate is too valuable to waste on nonsense any experienced person would see thru in a second.

It’s not cold-hearted to refuse to follow for strictly business reasons.

There are really only a handfull of my followers who ReTweet me, and of course, I do the same for them. The “club” of those who interact with me is pretty small, overall. And they are the people I try to RT.

One could make the case that if I had a zillion followers, that would help my friends whom I RT, but I figure most of my so called “followers” aren’t really paying attention to me anyway; they just want me to read their stuff.

Nice post!

Rick

Twitter has been a source of stress for me and based on your your reply to some comments it is likely that I’m not uitilizing it optimally. In the end, I believe your approach to limit those with whom you connect and interact with is key. Relationships, not numbers is what matters. I started following a bunch of people who also followed me after we all posted our info on a Linked In group. I thought that “exposure” to the masses would help. Wrong!!! Thanks to your post, I will re-think Twitter!

Keyuri, Do you use Twitter lists at all? If you can identify the followers who are interested in parenting, you could start organizing them now. That way, rather than seeing everyone’s tweets, you could narrow it down to those people in that list. Then you could concentrate on RT’ing their tweets and following their blogs. If you follow another blogger who targets the same readers that you do, you can look at their lists and see who they’re following. Good luck! The key is just as you say, relationships not numbers.

I do have twitter lists but need to educate myself on the simple technical aspects of how to optimally use them. I appreciate your suggestions. Thanks Sherryl.

I always make it a point to start and end my day with Twitter. And, for the space I leave for easier retweeting is I usually make it a point to leave at least 25 or more characters as much as possible. Thanks for sharing this, Sherryl. This is a great help for a lot of people.

Hope you enjoyed your New Year’s celebration!

– Wes –

Thanks Wes. I probably should leave more characters for RTs. Another thing that I should be doing is using more #hashtags. I really don’t use those. Follow Fridays is another think I need to work on!

Hi Sherry,

I tend to agree with Joseph but that might be because I am doing something wrong. I am not finding any reciprocity with regards to interaction and engagement. I also get tons of direct messages, most are just sales pitches and those that I do respond to – don’t respond back. However, I will continue to tweet, pay heed to your advice, and hopefully… will soon start seeing results.

A funny aside, regarding your #5, I am usually very careful in what I tweet or re-tweet making sure it is valuable. Once or twice I floated a trial balloon and tweeted something inane just to see what would happen. The result? After those tweets, i gained at least 10 times the amount of followers than when I tweet “value”. The most effective tweet was “If you are close enough to talk behind my back, you are close enough to kiss my ass” LOL Go figure!
Julie Weishaar recently posted..It’s All in the Delivery…My Profile

That’s great that you gained 10 times the amount of usual followers with those tweets but I have to ask. Were the followers that you gained people that look like they’re just self-promoters who are going to DM you with their sales pitches or were they people that you decided to follow back?

Hi Sherryl,

I love your #4 point. For the longest time, I was insanely jealous of all the accounts who had thousands and thousands of followers, until one day it just hit me… quantity doesn’t meant squat!

I disabled my auto-follow, stopped following people I wasn’t genuinely interested in following, and started unfollowing a bunch of bots and other users. It was like a breath of fresh air for me and now I actually enjoy socializing on Twitter because I’m not paranoid about keeping up with the numbers game!

These are all really valuable tips for sure. If only all Twitter users would follow them. We’d have a happy Twitter community with A LOT less spam and a lot more REAL conversation. 🙂

Elise, That is so true about having a happier Twitter community with less spam and real conversation! I guess all we can do is try to control out own little piece of it! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

Sherryl – These are some excellent tips you have listed in this post. I really agree with you on your number 3 and your number 4. There are some people that jump on twitter that have no clear strategy in place or a goal. So they end up using Twitter like it’s a popularity contest they’re trying to win, and they end up wasting a lot of time socializing instead of engaging with potential blog readers and customers.

If your purpose for being on Twitter is to help improve your brand and your business then you need to concentrate on building a more loyal following of quality instead of a following of huge quantity but little quality to your purpose of being on Twitter in the first place.

Hi Sherryl,
I’ve been just starting out on my blog and I have no previous experience with Twitter, which is why I’m all ears (and eyes) when it comes to Twitter-related posts.
I think I’m not much into Twitter so far, as I am not too comfortable with microblogging. Don’t even know if someone is really paying attention to my tweets. However, I’m not giving up on Twitter just yet, as I think I only need some time with it. As of now, the only thing I usually do on Twitter is to tweet other posts from blogs that I find interesting for me.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Nice blog Johanna! Good luck with it. I left a comment for you, tweeted it and I’m following you.

I think your approach to Twitter is a good one. Some of the pros recommend listening to the conversation first and then joining the conversation. Retweeting posts from blogs that you enjoy is a great way to get started and following those bloggers is a good way to start getting followers too. A lot of people will follow you back. (I recognize a few of your followers already!)

Hi Sherryl,
Thank you very much for your support. It means a lot to a newbie blogger like me. 🙂

Hi Sherryl, thanks for sharing your tips re using Twitter to build up your business!

Twitter appeals to me less and less as I get more people following me. That does sound very odd, so let me clarify.

Its obvious that a lot of folks merely follow a fellow Twitterer because they are intent on building a massive list to market stuff to.

Hmmm… that does not sit well with me really. I go to my Twitter account and I see a huge amount of messages coming through each hour. I wonder how to possibly cut through all of them to find the real value without it taking me quite a bit of time in doing so. Or, if I were to watch my Twitter account for new posts, there is no doubt that my time is misspent there since so much of it is marketing hype, and only a few posts are going to be really meaningful to me.

Sorry that I’ve a bit of a negative outlook as far as Twitter is concerned, but its as well I share my experience, or at least I hope so 😉

Hope you had a real nice Christmas Sherryl, and have a fun New Year when the bells toll!

Regards and best wishes for 2011!

Joseph

I’m glad you shared your opinion Jo. Your experience with Twitter is definitely different from mine. Twitter was my 3rd source of referral traffic this month and it ranked as my 4th source last month. Granted, the numbers aren’t huge but they certainly contribute to helping my readership grow. Something that can’t be measured solely through statistics is the number of relationships that I’ve developed that I can attribute directly to Twitter. I know for a fact that several of my readers found my blog by following a RT (of one of my posts) by someone else.

I’d be interested in hearing more about your Twitter strategy. I rarely get more than 1 or 2 messages from Twitter on any one day and those are always automated messages from someone I recently followed. (The key may be my tips #3 and #4.) I make a conscious effort to promote other bloggers who I’ve connected with. Whenever someone leaves a CommentLuv link on one of my posts, I follow it. If it leads me to a post that I find valuable, I retweet it for them. If I can, I’ll leave a comment. If someone RTs one of my posts, I not only thank them but often times, I’ll follow them.

I don’t watch my Twitter account for new posts. I try to check my mentions and RTs and make sure to return the favor. I also keep separate lists of people who I have developed relationships with. In my “keepupweb” list, I keep the people who I’ve formed online relationships with. I like to mix RTs of my posts with RTs for others and tweets of posts that I find valuable. If I’m in a hurry and want to tweet, I’ll look at the tweets from the people in my favorites list and RT for them. All of these people do the same for me including at least one person who has a huge following.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I hope other readers share their experiences too. We can all learn from each other.

I hope you and all my blog readers have a wonderful 2011 too!

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