January 2, 2014
If you’re like me, then you’re a regular user of social media, but you’ve found that during busy times, you haven’t kept up with some social media activities you should be doing, or some aspects of social media you should be learning.
Since social media encompasses several diverse platforms, I’m proposing five New Year’s resolutions for just one of those platforms — Twitter. That way, once you get into the Twitter habit, you can apply the same discipline to other social media channels, too.
Forgive me if some of this isn’t news to you, but I’ve found that when it comes to resolutions, often the key is to take what we already know and apply it with consistency.
Let’s assume that you have an effective profile photo, an account name that helps you achieve your objectives, a bio that supports your Twitter program and a link that directs people to learn more about you — whether that link is to a website, blog, Facebook page or LinkedIn page. Now, on to those resolutions:
While anything on the Internet can live forever, on Twitter, your posts or tweets have a short shelf life — minutes or seconds. People tend to read tweets in real-time, as they arrive on their smart phones or computers.
According to experts, to create any sort of sustainable visibility on Twitter, you have to commit to tweeting four to 15 times throughout the day. Over time, you will get a sense of which tweets and which times work best for you.
One of the most common critiques of Twitter is the type of tweets that people post. Many skeptics don’t care to see what other people ate for breakfast or where they are at any given moment.
Just as you would develop any PR program message strategy, it’s important to think of the kinds of tweets that will advance the brand you are working to create.
A healthy mix of tweets includes a wide range of content. Personal tweets have their place. On the professional side, tweets can include: tips and advice, links to your own blog or website, links to third-party articles and content, replies to tweets that mention you, shout-outs to others on Twitter, quotes or inspirational thoughts, photos, and important notices or announcements. And that’s just the surface.
One platform I like is called HootSuite. It’s a social media management dashboard that enables users to more efficiently operate multiple social media accounts, schedule posts and tweets, manage accounts with multiple users, integrate various apps and monitor and analyze ROI, among other things.
With tools like this, you can ensure that your social media presence is more consistent, even during times when other demands may pull you away from your regimen.
A few other tools worth investigating include: MuckRack — which provides a stream of what is trending in the media on Twitter at any given moment — Tumblr, Digg and Instagram.
One of the biggest misconceptions of Twitter is that users only have 140 characters to deliver a message. Thanks to links, apps for photos, video and the ubiquitous hashtag, Twitter offers much more than that.
A way to manage your Twitter feed is to create and subscribe to lists. Let’s say that you want to see what the media in your local market is tweeting about. If you’ve created a list of all the media in that market, which you follow, then you can quickly see what reporters are tweeting about without having to wade through the tweets of everyone else you follow.
There are also Twitter chats. You can participate in these group forums simply by knowing which ones you want to follow, when they are scheduled and using the appropriate hashtag. #journchat is popular among PR people. According to #journchat’s creators, its mission is to “keep an ongoing, open dialogue between journalists, bloggers and public relations professionals.”
Another important element worth learning about is custom timelines. This is a new Twitter feature that gives you more control over how you organize and deliver your tweets. You create it, name it and choose which tweets you want to add to your timeline.
While all of this is important, if you make one New Year’s resolution when it comes to Twitter, then I’d humbly recommend not looking at it and other social media as separate from your ongoing PR program. The full range of important constituencies, including the media, has embraced Twitter. For this reason alone, it’s critical to integrate social media into existing programs.
Twitter can be a highly effective way to build a mass following for a PR campaign, but like any communications initiative, it requires a clear set of objectives, strategies and messages.
Remember, you must be persistent and consistent with your implementation. In the end, you should find the right comfort level to tap the power of Twitter for your larger communications program.