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How to be smart on Twitter

19 July 2013 No Comment

Twitter has gone mainstream as people, brands and organizations flock to the social network. They set up profiles, find people to follow, start tweeting their hearts out and start to attract followers themselves.

It takes time but as follower numbers continue to rise, we know the effort is worth it, right?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Well, maybe not. Maybe all this tweeting, retweeting, following and friending is just so much spitting in the wind.  Maybe there is no real value in Twitter, or at least, no value in the way a brand is using Twitter.

It’s just good basic communications best practices, but you’d be amazed by how many companies and brands just keep on tweeting without linking that activity to organizational objectives. How many corporate tweeters actually understand who their followers are, why they choose to follow and even if these followers are the right people to be reaching out to?

The key to realising the true value of Twitter as a communications channel lies in understanding how and why key stakeholders use the social network.  Only then can you figure out how best to reach and engage with them.

Start by taking a good look the Twitter community. Examine the Twitter profiles of all followers to see what keywords are used and assess if these interests align with those of the company or brand. Those that match most closely represent the core followers who are most likely to engage and build a relationship of trust with the brand via Twitter.

Understand the mix of followers in terms of the sizes of their own communities. Those that have zero to 500 followers usually belong to normal, everyday users of Twitter. Those with more than 2,500 followers are probably Twitter power users… usually corporate, brand or otherwise professional users of the social network. Those with between 500 to 2,500 followers will likely be active personal users, small companies or less active corporate or brand users.

How active are the followers? How many have tweeted thousands of times? How many hundreds of times or less than that? This is an indication of how these followers tend to use Twitter. Are they active participants or merely observers? This should inform Twitter engagement and content development strategies.

Examine those followers who have most followers. Who are these people? What do they tweet about?  Why do they follow this profile?  The answers to these questions will be helpful in understanding if you should engage with these online influencers, and how.

Map out reciprocal Twitter relationships and interactions. Which profiles are included most often with @replies and which hashtags are used a lot? This will indicate the strongest relationships and where the brand participates in larger Twitter conversations with other users. Who is behind these profiles and do their interests align with those of the brand?  How big is this the group in relation to the number of followers overall?  This is a measure of the real value of Twitter’s current value for the brand.

Twitter, as a communications channel, offers great reach, flexibility and a huge opportunity to raise awareness and build communities of trust. Take the time to think it through.

This post was originally published on the Thornley Fallis blog.

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