To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question

Posted by Amanda Parsons on October 13th 2011 in Social Media, Company News

Just in case you missed it, here's our Director Alastair Banks' latest post for the Express and Echo... A very good day to you lovely people of Exeter. Hope you’ve all been enjoying the new weekly format for the paper - personally I’m a huge fan (and I’m not saying that just because I write for it now)...loving Mr Astley’s work - well done guys. So I’m back again for useful hints, tips and advice on the scary world of online commerce (my goal is to make it less scary for you). Today I’m going to focus on my friend Twitter. Those of you who know me, know I’m a big fan of it and have helped the likes of Exeter University, Olives Et Al and numerous other companies to define strategies for success on the social media sites, Twitter being just one of those. Twitter has been around for a good few years now (in fact it celebrated it’s 5th birthday this year!). However in the UK it’s really only been used heavily for the last few years and is still only being found by the masses now. Firstly, here are the basics: 1). It’s what’s known as a micro-blogging platform. You only have 140 characters to do your business. 2). It works on the premise of the question ‘What are you doing right now?’. Not everyone uses it in this way but it’s a good start. If you’ve been using Twitter for a while I have a question for you - Do you think it feels a little like being in a pub and everyone shouting at you? Yeah I do to, but it has fantastic uses for business and individuals when used effectively so I hope to give you some ideas on that today. If you’re not signed up, what are you doing? Go get yourself an account now - goto and signup a profile. Use a name which means something - Your name or your business name or perhaps a mixture of both. Fill out the bio properly (you only get 160 chars here so be concise), using some key terms within it that describe you or your business. Make sure you include a link back to your website so people can find out more about you and finally upload a decent picture of yourself. My preference is for a good mug shot, not some picture of you riding a horse across the glades which means we can hardly make you out, or putting up a logo which means nothing (I’m focusing on personal accounts here - not business by the way). Once you have your account, here are a few things you can do to start getting the most from Twitter. 1). Look for people to follow - Google people you know followed by the word ‘twitter’ to see if they have profiles eg: ‘Alastair Banks Twitter’. Follow them and then see who they follow. There is a good chance this will lead you to other people you didn’t even realise were on there. Following someone will send them an email saying you’ve done so and give them the chance to follow you back. 2). Goto and do a search on the term ‘exeter’ - This will show you everyone ‘tweeting’ (Don’t worry you’ll soon pick the lingo up) with the word Exeter in. This might highlight other people who look interesting or are worth following. 3). While you’re using you can go into the advanced settings and select tweets from a certain area - set it to Exeter and find people tweeting nearby. 4). If you’re into sport why not follow our successful two sporting clubs - The Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City FC both of who are active on Twitter. You can find them here: 5). Be sociable - Don’t just broadcast a message about your new offer or how great your company is or what you’ve just eaten for breakfast (unless you’ve just eaten at the Royal Clarence and want to tell everyone it’s fantastic of course). Engage with people, see what they are talking about, respond to questions from them, help them out where possible. Reciprocity is big on social sites. 6). Add some value - As above, try and add some value to others lives. Link people to articles of interest (even better if you’ve written them on your own blog as that will help your traffic). Tell people something they didn’t know about your industry or perhaps a hobby of yours. 7). How much to tweet - Anything less than once or twice a day is probably not going to see you add much value to anyone including yourself, anything more than 10-15 is probably overkill but that’s just my opinion and others may differ. I can tell you that if you are continually appearing in others streams with inane waffle, they will soon turn off. 8). Follow ‘Hashtags’ - A Hashtag is a way of following a conversation on Twitter. Anyone who tweets about a certain topic might add a hashtag into their 140 chars to allow others to follow a chain of tweets on that topic. The Echo now have a hashtag of their own for you to follow: #helloecho which was started by the fantastic @jamesmb (That’s James’ handle by the way). 9). Oh and make sure you follow the Echo team – editor Marc Astley @marcastley; features writer Catherine Fraser @MrsCFraser; business editor Gordon Richardson @gordorichardson; news reporter Anne Byrne @AnneByrne; news editor Rob Sims @Robsims1; news reporter Fran McElhone @FranMcElhone; sports reporter Jon Lewis @Echo_Jon; sports reporter Nick Warren @EchoSportNick; production editor Ed Oldfield @Ed_Oldfield; news updates @Thisis_Exeter. So there’s my starter for ten. Watch others and see how they do it, take time to learn. Until next time, have a great month, Alastair @banksy6 on Twitter
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