The Twit(ch)hikers Guide to the Twitteralaxy - Part 1

For me Twitter has always been an exciting place to look, listen, connect and share. However, I am aware from the dozens of social media training workshops I’ve held over the past year with literally hundreds of people both via Business Training Made Simpleand in-house – Twitter is the one social network that seems toTwitter Tips - Getting started using Twitter fox everyone.

“I want to use Twitter but I ‘don’t get it’” – is a recurring theme.  As too is – “but, what do I say…”?

So here are just 5 of my top Twitter tips for getting to grips with Twitter in an effective way for 2012.  More Tips to follow in Part 2.



Twitter Tip 1 - Strike the 80/20 balance

Of the 200 million tweets a day – it’s evident that most Twitter users are behaving badly.

Pushing links to self promote is fine – and if part of your overall thinking and planning, perfectly acceptable. However, don’t make ‘link pushing’ the only thing you do on Twitter.  Twitter enables continuous conversation – but effective conversations have to be two way (or multi-dimensional). When starting out with Twitter consider yourself in a strange land. You’ve no idea who lives in the land, are they friendly?, what language do they speak?, who can help you find your way and point you in the right direction?, who can you make friends with? – you get the picture.

In this strange land you’ve entered, would you then stand in the middle of the market square and start shouting about who you are and what you do – randomly ranting, and without even knowing if anyone is listening?

Nope, firstly, you’d use your ears and eyes and listen and watch – suss out the space, listen in to what people are talking about, what are their issues, what are they looking for – can you perhaps help them out too?

We’re equipped with two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason - survival. Use them accordingly for your online survival too.

Respect the channels for what they are. They’re not ‘bill boards’.  Get the self promotion balance right – aim for 80% conversation and 20% promotion.

Twitter Tip 2 - Focused Listening rather than Unfocused Publishing

In keeping with Tip1, Twitter is a rich repository for research and listening-in to the sentiment and needs of people.

If you’re using Twitter effectively, as well as ‘conversing and sharing’, you need to be listening in for relevant conversations and needs.  After all, far better to respond to someone, perhaps sharing a link to a recent resource you’ve created or a landing page etc – rather than constantly pushing out noise that isn’t relevant to the audience at large.

Make sure you’re tracking keywords and sentiments that you could respond to in a more targeted and purposeful way.  (Hootsuite is great for this, but other apps are around too to help you track, even basic Google Alerts).

Listening in overcomes the question “but what should we tweet” – if you’re answering a question, or pointing someone in the right direction or connecting them to someone you think could be useful to them, or sharing a blog post, (yours or someone elses) – then what you publish won’t be some random rantings about a new product launch – but instead a purposeful answer to a genuine need.

Twitter Tip 3 – Grow the Trust

Following Tip 1 and 2, you’ll start to grow an understanding of who to follow and growing your followers by proving useful and having genuine conversations with others.

Building a good relationship takes time and nuture.  We’ve all got a ‘friend’ that every time we hear from them they want something from us - and how much do we just love hearing from them?

Don’t become the ‘friend’ that is constantly asking something of others – “please RT,  pls sign this now, take this survey, poll”. Again, it’s perfectly acceptable to do this occasionally – but don’t make it your mantra. Consider how you’d play it ‘offline’ and remember that Twitter is all about two way conversations.  You want to give your followers reasons to know you, like you, share your content – and ultimately generate new business.  But the new business generation may be sometime down the line.

What’s important is that you grow your ‘share of mind’ in a positive and purposeful way.  So when they need to find someone they can trust to deliver a service you provide – you’re top of their mind.

Twitter Tip 4 – Have an Objective

“Yeah, I’ve set up a Twitter account but I never use it – not sure what to do with it”.  I hear this all the time.  Often it’s branded – and out there for all to see – great PR, not!

Ask yourself - would you randomly send out a direct mail campaign without thinking about your audience, messaging, call to action – and importantly, objective?   All campaigns should be about delivering on the objectives of the business. We don’t just do them for doing’s sake. And the same goes for ‘social’.

Before you dive into setting up a Twitter account ask yourself what the purpose of the Twitter account is. Is it customer support, brand awareness,  a specific short-term campaign, garnering support, lead generation?

The objective of the Twitter thread determines everything you do with it, right from the name you use, the picture the bio, the people you target, your influencers – pretty much everything. So don’t start out blindly.

Think, plan and learn before you dive in.

Twitter Tip 5 – Quality over Quantity

At the beginning of every training working, I ask each delegate what they are looking to get out of the day. A recurring theme on the Twitter Strategy workshop is ‘to grow the number of followers’.

This is indeed a credible and relevant objective for Twitter. However, big warning here – focus more on the quality of your followers than the quantity.

What’s the point of having 10,000 followers if not one of them is engaged with you and listens to what you have to say.  They won’t be sharing, hearing or engaging with you.  Therefore, what you are sharing is totally ineffectual. It’s just noise.

Growing a targeted, engaged and purposeful audience takes time.  To own an engaged audience means they've got to grow trust in you – and have time to learn that what you’re sharing is 90% great stuff. Therefore, when you say something, they’re more likely to be tuning in.

These are the right type of audience to acquire - key influencers, who, when you share something of relevance – they share it with their audiences, extending the reach, leveraging their audiences and growing more awareness for you.

So, to summarise:

  •  Remember the social platforms don’t behave like traditional platforms. It’s not about ‘pushing’ messages out one way – but rather, having a conversation, one to one or one to many.
  •  Leverage the social channels to listen in to the needs of people. Social channels enable this like no other traditional media, so don’t waste the opportunity to listen and learn by only spouting forth.
  •  Unless you're Lady Gaga – it’s not about having huge followings – but more about finding the right following.

More to follow in The Twit(ch)hikers Guide to the Twitalaxy  - Part 2.

Meanwhile, do share your views and tips with me too – I’m all ears…

Best wishes for a happy Christmas and a fun filled and prosperous 2012.


Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Carvill Creative covers all aspects of online visibility – website effectiveness, social media marketing, social media management and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.


Passionate about Online Visibility - creating an integrated approach across websites, blogs and social media platforms.

MarketingMichelle Carvill