Category: News Created on Friday, 20 January 2012 07:21
If you have a computer and Internet connection then chances are you engage in some form of social media. You Tube is the world’s 3rd most visited site and Facebook is ubiquitous with upwards of 800 million users. Then there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google+... The list and variety of the various social media sites is almost endless. Using social media for pleasure is fun and for business it is an essential marketing tool that offers cost effective promotion that spans the global marketplace.
Since the ICT road show is currently taking place in Dominica, as it has in many other countries, and ICT awareness grows stronger each day I thought I’d share some insights on one social media tool that is very powerful and yet widely misunderstood: Twitter.
Twitter has 250 million users is another but many people (me included) don’t quite get it at first. Twitter is a shortened blog format, where you can ‘tweet’ anything you want in 140 characters or less. It’s short, sharp and straight to the point. You can tweet your mood, views and link to your website, blog or photos. Twitter records an amazing 200million tweets per day.
Following and being followed
Once you have created an account on Twitter it’s a good idea to create a relevant profile description so people can see at a glance if you are the kind of person they want to hang out with in Cyberspace and vice versa. Even before you start tweeting you can follow others based on common interests. Others will follow you back in the same manner and that’s where the real communication begins.
Celebrities and well known people on Twitter have verified accounts and rarely follow more than a handful of other users but for the average person it is social media etiquette to check out those who are following you and give them a follow back if they seem interesting.
Twitter allows you to connect to wide social network according to your focus groups and there is also a facility to narrow down your viewable tweets by creating lists of Tweeps (as people on Twitter are known) around a particular subject.
In order to get new followers on Twitter you have to be interesting and share relevant information but it is also important to connect with other followers and not just blast out constant links and self promotion. Using the @ before a Twitter name will feature that person in your tweet and have your post show up on their page which is useful for conversations and mentions.
Follow Friday is a way to list some of the people that make an impact on you and share a group of interesting people that others may wish to follow. As the name suggests this is usually done on a Friday and there is even a Follow Friday tool which makes it even easier to keep track of those you wish to give a shout out to. This tool also incorporates options to do this on any day of the week and for any occasion.
Retweets (RT’s) are when you share another person’s tweet with your audience by a simple click of the retweet button. If someone retweets you tweet be sure to thank them! There are entire social network forum groups devoted to retweeting each other’s information. These can be effective but time consuming and most of the time it is best to engage with your following, build good relationships and write something that is worth sharing. Twitter automatically shortens URLS but for extra tiny versions that are easy to read it is worth using a free service like Tiny Url to shorten them in advance. For optimal retweets try to do write less than 140 characters as the RT’S will include your Twitter name also.
The Hashtag # is another Twitter protocol that enables easier searching on subjects of interest and can also be an effective way of grouping tweets and analysing marketing effectiveness. For instance there are hashtags about sports, current events, interest groups, countries etc – you can hashtag anything! People participating in blog carnivals or live chats often mark each tweet with a designated hashtag for identification and communication. The Hashtag can also be used for fun and humour at the end of a tweet such as #Icantbelievei’mhashtaggingthis! Hashtagging a tweet opens your conversation far wider than your followers as it can be found by anyone else interested in the subject and can gain you new followers too.
It is vital if you have a business or blog to tweet as soon as you create something new online. I see many online magazines whose writers fail to even retweet their own information! If you are not going to do it why would anyone else? However it is not always possible to be online and your audience may peak at a time you are unavailable. It is therefore also recommended to use a scheduling site that will send your tweets at specific times. These sites include Social Oomph, Twuffer, Tweet Later, Hoot Suite and Timely.
Be Nice and Have Fun!
Social media is woven into the fabric of many people’s lives these days. While some people conscientiously object to sharing their details online, most people are involved in at least one social media site for business or pleasure. On Twitter, as with any other social media site, it is vital that you don’t hide behind a computer screen as a mask for unfriendly comments– be civil and don’t say anything to a person that you would not be willing to say to their face. And remember you have no idea who will be reading your tweets and who they can get retweeted to so don’t share all the details of your life – the next person that interviews you might just check up on your Twitter profile before deciding if you get the job!
Terri Henry is freelance contributor to MNI Alive. She is a writer & wellness consultant with a focus on natural health, ecological awareness, and sustainability. She is also a mother of two and blogs on the subject of natural parenting at ‘Child of the Nature Isle’. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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