Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thinking About You :: Twitter Cheesing 101


Super Bowl XLVII was notable in American Football history for many reasons: it was the 10th to be played in New Orleans, it had two brothers playing against each other (Jim and John Harbaugh) and, during the game's third quarter, a power failure suspended play for thirty-four minutes. During that time, the person running Oreo's Social Media account had the bright idea (no pun intended) to produce the graphic above and then post it to Twitter [*]. 15,811 Retweets and 6,505 Favourites later it's clear to see that using Tweets effectively is as much about seizing your moment as it is being informed or funny. In the first of two Guides I'll be publishing over the next two days for the NBI (Newbie Blogger Initiative), we're going to give you some pointers to making your 140 characters work for you as effectively as possible. If we're going to learn from the cookies (and you really should, @Oreo is a great account to follow for smart ideas) it's not just about picking your moment, but what you do with your characters even before you press 'Tweet.'

Let's get ready to Twitter...

10 Twitter Tips to Keep Everyone Happy (especially your Followers)

1. Make an Effort.

Like anything else, people notice when you make an effort. Now that Twitter's trying to model itself to be more like Facebook (because in shock news that matters), it's probably not a bad idea to embrace the possibilities. One of my first tasks when I return from Holiday is to redesign my headers across all versions of Social Media for a more consistent look. Yes, I KNOW I'm not a massive corporate behemoth but I get why a brand identity matters and what it can do for people who have absolutely no idea who I am. You should too. Find a look that people can learn to recognise across multiple platforms, including Twitter. Trust me, it does work.

2. Think before you Type.

There's nothing worse than reacting to something only to discover an hour later you totally grasped the wrong end of the collective stick. The key to Twitter is indeed immediacy, but not if you're going to end up upsetting someone in the process. For the sake of everyone's sanity, including ultimately your own, make sure you consider EVERYTHING you say. This is a pretty good rule of thumb for writing generally, but it has additional resonance in a medium which actively plays on the speed of response time as a selling point. If all else fails, if it would offend you, there's a pretty good chance things won't end well.

3. Don't Spam.

If you're using sixteen Tweets to make your point, you're failing to understand the basic significance of this medium. If it needs any more than five Tweets to make your point, GO WRITE A BLOG POST INSTEAD, then use Twitter to post a link to said post, which is what it is supposed to be for. The same goes for pictures, Vines, You Tube videos, programmes that link your game progress, Tumblr and indeed anything else that doesn't grasp that your audience is alive, breathing and not happy about the cost of downloading all this useless crap you are generating on their 3G Wireless plan. Most likely you'll end up being unfollowed or muted, neither of which gets your message across.

Timing is Everything. No, REALLY.

4. When is as important as What.

Picking your moment, as Oreo showed at the top of the page, is really what Twitter does best. Immediacy and succinct are the two words to bear in mind when you're deciding to make your point, and images do that really rather well. However, you could make the best visual gag known to mankind but post it when half your audience is asleep and lose the moment. This is where, at least for me, being 5-10 hours ahead of the US is a distinct advantage, but a loss when Blizzard pull a late night and I need to be there when they announce summat. No matter, knowing your audience means understanding your timelines, and there are some basic rules to follow to maximise your impact:

  • 5pm local time is a great time for retweets? Why? Because many people are waiting to go home and access Social Media from work, or may already be on their way home and Tweeting from a mobile device.
  • Lunch and Dinner time (12pm/6pm) are also great times as people spend time in front of personal devices before eating, or maybe their screen at work.
  • Both weekends and midweek are great times to generate extra interest and engage your audience.
  • Don't ever tweet too many things at once, unless you're watching Eurovision, major sporting events, TV shows or indeed anything where 'real time' tweeting becomes socially acceptable.

5. Understand When for your Audience.

The thing about general rules of thumb is that everyone is different, and actually what works in one person's social media sphere is quite likely not to work for another's. There are specialist tools online that analyse your Twitter audience and what it does, but you don't need fancy smanchy infographics to tell you this stuff, you just need to get to know who's reading your Timeline. I know the best times to target posts as a result, when the most people on my timeline will be reading Twitter, because I've taken the time to interact with them, and to learn when they're talking to me. This makes this next point possibly the most important of the 10 I'm going to give you.

6. Engage EVERYONE.

If you're not using a platform such as You Tube or Twitch to 'engage' your audience, you may find it quite hard to get noticed. That's because you need to understand that Social Media is about... well, being social. I'm not suggesting complimentary drinks or free sausages on sticks for each new follower, but taking the time to talk to people doesn't have to be the cynical exercise in marketing some people might have you believe it is becoming. I can understand how audiences work and what to do to maximise them, but this doesn't mean I don't also grasp that if you don't actually make some kind of connection with the people you're talking to, there's really not much point. I've met some fabulous people using Twitter, the same way I'd meet people via Facebook or Tumblr or even in Warcraft. Not everyone becomes your friend, but it doesn't hurt to treat everyone the same, with decency, common sense and respect. Because you would hope that's the way people would treat you, and that's why if you want to be friends with Twitter, Twitter will need to become friends with you.

When I said engage... oh, never mind...

7.  Scheduling is Perfectly Acceptable.

Just because Twitter is Immediacy Personified, it doesn't mean you can't sneak in stuff to LOOK like you're paying attention when you're not. Scheduling stuff for Twitter is perfectly acceptable if a) you're honest with your audience and b) you keep an eye on things. Needless to say, if you end up Tweeting twenty-six copies of the same message because you're not paying attention, people will see right through you. There's a Guide on scheduling blog posts using Twitter as advertising coming tomorrow. Suffice it to say, I'll be watching every post that is scheduled this week very closely. Your ideas are only ever as good as their execution, after all.

8. Embrace the #Hashtag

I watch clever companies almost every day use the hashtag to great advantage: a savvy marketeer will add a tag to a post and encourage posters to use it to get themselves noticed. They'll then search for that hashtag amongst the sea of 'noise' that Twitter invariably creates and post the best responses, in turn generating more traffic and updated use of the tag itself. It is brilliant in its simplicity, and when used well is an extremely potent tool for getting your Tweets noticed on a wider stage. Learn how to use your # and the benefits are manyfold, just don't use too many in a post. Why? #TooManyHashtagsAreUltimatelyAnnoying. Or summat :P

9. Make a List, Check It Twice

The other key advantage with Twitter that far too many people overlook is the ability to build custom lists of Followers. For instance, for my Azeroth In 5 account, I have a list of all Blizzard's notable staff members who have a public presence, which makes keeping up to date with news and developments as they report them considerably easier than having to wade through thousands of accounts at any given time. Certainly if you are the kind of person who wants to organise what you're reading or focus on specific interests (You Tubers, Twitch streamers etc) having Lists is a great way of focussing in on a section of the 'output' without getting lost in what can often be an awful lot of noise.

10. It's Not The End of the World.

Unless someone's paying you to monitor Social Media, all of this isn't worth getting upset about, or angry, or indeed allowing yourself to become unduly emotionally invested. Like Facebook, or Tunblr, or indeed anything where you are indirectly removed from actual social contact, it is probably wise not to become overly wound into the significance of events. Don't get hung up on who follows and unfollows you, don't make this about just how many numbers you have. This is a fact I tend to forget myself sometimes too, and it bears repeating: what matters most is what you do, not who listens to you doing it. It can become quite easy to obsess about your numbers, your reach or your engagement. Know they exist, understand what they mean, and then MOVE ON.


[*] With thanks to this article which I used for research purposes and which deserves suitable credit as a result, this example really is as good as it gets. Pick your moment, and Twitter can make you a star overnight. Literally.


dobablo said...

Nothing generates hits as much as some innocent innuendo.

kunukia said...

Very nice post.