The interview in which I un-ironically used the term “Twitizen”

This is my second interview in a month about how to get ‘er done with Twitter: “How to Market Your Business – Twitter” by Elaine Ellis of Trada. I’m awkwardly pleased* to be included in this group of marketing** experts, and big thanks goes to Elaine for asking for my advice.

*I think the correct term is “humbled,” but simultaneously proud
**I have a thing against labeling someone a “social media expert” because I think it’s a subset of being a great marketer. That, and too many jerks claim to be social media experts.

Here are all my answers. Learn on!

How do you find people to engage with on Twitter?

If you’re fairly new to Twitter, there’s always the easy-as-tweeting-about-fish-in-a-barrel approach: Twitter’s “Who to Follow” page, specifically Find Friends and Browse Interests tabs. It does a decent job of thinking for you.

Beyond that, if I’m trying to find a conversation about a particular topic – let’s say community management – I first think about top influencers. Connie Bensen comes to mind, as do Thomas KnollMaria OgnevaJeremiah OwyangAmber NaslundTamar Weinberg… you get the idea. With any business or topic you’re passionate about, you likely already know who the cool kids are. You’re reading their blogs or buying tickets to conferences they speak at, and maybe you’ve bought one of their books.

After that, I look at who they follow and talk to. This can easily turn into a deep rabbit hole of a research project, so be patient.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I keep an eye on what terms and hashtags are in vogue. For community management, you can join the weekly Community Manager Chat by searching for #cmgrchat. I’ve followed and talked to a few people participating in this chat because I found what they had to say useful, and it was easy to engage with them because we shared a common and obvious interest.

Of course, you also want to check out who’s talking about and interested in you. For Web 2.0 Expo, I always keep an open tab of search results for our brand terms (#w2e, Web 2.0 Expo, Web2Expo, etc.) to make sure I can engage in a timely fashion with someone who tweets about us.

What tips and tricks do you use to be effective on Twitter?

Effective Twitter management requires the right mindset:

Be tuned in. Checking in only once a week means you’ll miss all the action. Use monitoring tools like Radian6 or any number of free tools out there (goodness, there are a lot) if you need help. Or, like I do, just leave a tab open to a platform such as Seesmic and occasionally drop in throughout the day. I have several Twitter Lists organized that I can check, and I keep a few search result tabs open at all times (I currently use Monitter). Listening to the conversation is vital.Quote from Kaitlin Pike

Be swift. If you see a conversation brewing about your brand or topic of interest, jump in! Waiting means you’ll miss the boat. You don’t always have to lead the discussion; participation can be anything from retweeting with a comment to asking a relevant question.

Be interesting. If you learn anything about being a good Twitizen, it’s to not be a bore. Make sure the person running your Twitter account “gets” content. Baratunde is a great role model of how to do this right. Check out his keynote “There’s a #Hashtag for That” for his take on what’s qualifies as interesting Twitter content.

One not-so-secret weapon to stay on top of your Twitter account is to schedule tweets. I use Social Oomph, which is free.

What are the most creative ways you’ve seen companies using Twitter?

Virgin America is simply killing it. They talk to – and not at – their followers. They’re savvy with how to use Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends. And they know how to run fun campaigns.

They’ve run two Twitter based charity/fare sale campaigns: Last year they ran a “Fly Forward, Give Back” Fare Sale that raised $50,000 for education causes – this campaign turned into their fourth-largest sales day. Just recently they redid this campaign with proceeds going to Stand Up to Cancer.

They also recently had a Twitter scavenger hunt at AT&T Park for the Giants v. Phillies game: Fans at the game could follow the Virgin America account or the #FlyTheBeard hashtag to get photo clues of where the airline’s flight attendants were. If you found a flight attendant based on the clues, you got swag and the chance to win a free flight.

As for Web 2.0 Expo, I’ve run the Tweet This Contest for the past two years with much success. We were the first conference to do this, and I’ve only seen my company’s other brands use it since then. (We’re now calling it the Refer a Friend Contest.) The basics of it: We give you an individualized discount code, which you promote on Twitter to your followers. Every time someone registers with your code, you get an extra 15% discount off your own pass. The person with the most registered attendees wins a free hotel stay during the event. Our audience has really responded to this, and they get pretty competitive with it. We’ve had a good number of people pay for their own pass through this contest plus a friend because they got so many people to register.

As a marketer, how do you determine if Twitter is successful for your business?

This is the most important question marketers need to consider before launching into social media. If you can’t track ROI, you can’t tell if your efforts are fruitful or wasteful.

For us, it’s a fairly straight-forward answer: tracking codes, discount codes, and a few free third party tracking tools (paid is fine if you need it!). Check out this tweet:

Tweet from Web 2.0

For starters, I’ve used a bit.ly link (http://bit.ly/llV4p9). If I want a quick analysis of how it’s performed, I simply paste that URL, add a + at the end, and hit enter (seehttp://bit.ly/llV4p9+). I can now see that 676 people clicked on this.

If you go to the landing page the link leads to, you’ll notice this at the end of the URL: “?_discount=twt”. I can now see in my web analytics report how this converted.

Also on that landing page is a discount code – if someone registers with that code, I’ll know they found us via Twitter. There’s more analysis going on here, but that’s the short of it. Additionally helpful is the fact that we use Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. They provide a good dashboard of how our Promoted Tweets perform.

Quick shout out: I’m also a fan of Tweet Reach. For a somewhat more complicated answer, I recommend checking out my colleague’s and my article on social media ROI.

What are the most common mistakes you see companies make with Twitter?

The most common mistake I see is companies talking but not listening: Tweeting about products and services versus engaging the community and creating a discussion. Other cardinal sins of Twitter include

  • not responding to complaints or questions (or not doing so quickly enough)
  • tweeting things no one wants to read – including the person who tweeted it
  • using inappropriate language for your audience – this is relative, of course, and could just mean you’re using  the wrong lingo, not that you’re cursing
  • ignoring the potential evangelists of your brand/not reaching out to thought leaders

But the root problem here is that the company hired the wrong person to manage their social media campaigns. When I consider someone for a social media or community management role, I couldn’t care less if they’re up on the hottest new Twitter related toy. I care if they have good judgment. Do they have a good editorial eye? Do they know how to deal with trolls? How to create conversation? A social media marketer with sound judgment and a firm understanding of community building is worth her weight in gold.

Anything else you think social media marketers should know about using Twitter?

Not having a firm social media presence today is like not having a website 10 years ago. The conversation is going to happen with or without you, and you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t properly engage with the Twitterati. Consider it a savvy investment to spend time developing your Twitter strategy.
Comments
2 Responses to “The interview in which I un-ironically used the term “Twitizen””
  1. Your answers were amazing! Really appreciated you participating. Next time I’m in San Francisco, I want to sit down and compare notes!

  2. Kaitlin Pike says:

    Let me know when you’re out here next 🙂 There are a few local places my friends and I would be happy to show you (read: drink with you there), including our Muppet themed bar: http://www.gadling.com/2011/07/09/muppet-bar-opens-in-san-franciscos-mission-district/

    Cheers.

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