The news has recently been inundated with reports from the new social networking website on the block, Twitter. George Orwell spoke of how it is always better to write a simple sentence in the media. Perhaps this is why Twitter has taken off so well with the public?
Twitter is quite simply a ludicrously easy social networking device to use. Due to this simplicity the scale of use for this social networking tool is huge. As the Twitter website explains, the focus is on a particular question “What are you doing?” The most basic function of Twitter is to answer this question. Obviously this question implies a focus around daily routines, the less understanding around Twitter may joke with statuses such as “Eating a ham sandwich” or “Reading a book”. Fair enough, a lot of Twitter does include people writing such phrases, I am included in this.
The secret behind Twitter is to use the tool for your own advantage. It is no secret that there is a degree of selfishness in all social networking website. The only reason I am on Facebook is to stay in the loop with my friends. An individual must always gain something from signing up. Twitter is the blatantly obvious when it comes to personal gain since it is possible to share your articles, artwork or music immediately with a large network of people. Even if a person has a low amount of followers it is possible to use ‘#’ tags to shout certain tweets to a large audience. For instance the #bloggeries gives your posted article links increased coverage. Yesterday for Charles Darwin’s 200th Birthday the #darwin tag was used to list all birthday message to him. It is a simple but convenient method to get more exposure for your tweets and join in with a likewise audience.
Getting more followers?
First you can add me @michaelwhite1!
This is a common question for anybody who takes Twitter seriously. Nobody likes to be left alone with a handful of followers but neither do we want an horrendous amount of spam coming through our Twitter feed. I should add that I’m not an expert when it comes to getting more followers. Currently I have 286 people following my tweets but I’ll list some tips to help you boost those numbers.
1. If somebody follows you, follow them in return.
I view this to be more polite than anything else. Fellow twitters’ will see that you follow back and be more inclined to follow you in return. Always following back may not always ring true but some on Twitter view it to be only etiquette to return follows.
2. Do not keep adding vast amounts of people
For the more logical readers it then may seem sensible to add thousands of people and hope they all follow you back. Unfortunately this method doesn’t work, this is a method spammers use on Twitter and can result in a bad reputation. If you add many people then make sure they have similar interest. A great deal of my followers come from secular networking website which I am a part of. This resulted in a greater follow back.
3. Advertise yourself
Place your Twitter URL everywhere. Place it in the signature lines of your email, provide it on any websites you own, include it on other social networking website. If you are lucky enough to already have a range of people reading your blog or following your other social networking activities then you may get a big boost of Twitter followers.
4. Post unique or interesting links
On Twitter there is something called ‘RT’, ‘Return Tweet’. If you post an interesting or funny link then there is a chance other Twitters’ will include the same link in their status with your @username. This gives your profile greater exposure and consequently may increase followers. Alternatively keeping your profile focused on a specific subject area will make it easier to obtain a particular audience.
5. Get involved!
If you just post your own tweets and never get active with the Twitter community then people won’t follow you or possibly remove you from their list. You should be interested with what other people have to say. Twitter is a SOCIAL networking website, need I say more?
6. Do not auto Direct Message (DM) people
If there is one thing about Twitter I cannot stand it is when public relations professionals, marketing geniuses or ‘so-called’ entrepreneurs have set up an automatic DM to greet you once you have followed. It is such an obvious marketing strategy and consequently fills my inbox with huge amounts of utter rubbish. Mark my words, send me a automatic DM and I will kill you with a spoon.
7. Or… you could be sneaky
On Facebook there are several groups focused on Twitter which may help you gain more followers. You will also find many other groups like these on other social networking sites such as Bebo or Myspace. These groups usually follow the ‘follow me, follow you’ ode. A website which materialised last week, which I curiously joined was TweeterGetter. Provide your Twitter username and password and apparently you get more followers. Although I haven’t seen any real effect from this application yet.
So what about Public Relations?
It is in my view that anybody who doesn’t use social networking devices for modern PR won’t be around for much longer. PR is all about communicating a message and the internet provides the perfect platform for this. The trick is to create a large awareness but not appear to be spamming the life out of people. The point I raised over companies mass following users and creating automatic direct messages could badly affect your campaign. Unfortunately I have had no experience with online Public Relations yet but as a long-term user of web technologies I still think my advice holds an awful lot of value.