8 Must Knows on Twitter 4 Business15 Jul, 2009 By: John Mancini imageSource
8 Must Knows on Twitter 4 Business
At the risk of pushing the edges of acceptable marketing too far, let me take
a chance and offer a thought – have you ever considered using Twitter for
My first reaction to Twitter was, “This is lunacy. What a waste of time.”
But after investigating, I think there is marketing value – granted, it’s edgy
but it’s there – in thinking about applying Twitter to your next marketing
So not to waste time, let me share with you what I learned along the way.
Let me tell you the “Eight Things You Need to Know about Twitter and Business.”
- In many ways, Twitter is like instant messaging. As
in instant messaging, the emphasis is on short, punchy messages. In fact,
the very definition of Twitter is 140 character messages that describe “what
are you doing?” That’s not much real estate. Longer than an IM, but
shorter than an email message.
- There’s a big difference between Twitter & IM -
Twitter “tweets” go out to the world. This is an aspect of “content”
publishing that drives many above the age of 40 berserk. It is the same
objection that many initially had to blogging – who cares to hear your
opinions about all the minutiae of your life? I’ve heard Clay Shirky talk
about this (Here Comes Everybody) and he notes that earlier generations of
(one-to-many) publishers had a built in filter – publishing mechanisms were
expensive and thus the publisher became the filter and editor. Social media
throws all that out the window because anyone can publish anything,
essentially for free. But I diverge. The point is that an instant message
goes to exactly whom you specify. Tweets can be viewed by anyone.
- Much of Twitter terminology will make you feel like an
idiot. It is hard for a grown professional person to even use the term
Twitter without generating snickers. Much less, terms like twitpeeps and
tweeting and retweeting, and twit-this and twit-that, and Ashton Kutcher.
[Note: There is a very off-color joke that Steve Colbert told on the Today
show about Twitter one morning that I will tell you if you buy me a beer.]
- The key to understanding Twitter and marketing is not
followers. It’s folders. Many I know who have not become twitpeeps ask me,
“Why on earth would you ever want to ‘follow’ anyone. It’s like being a
stalker.” Or even more likelier, “Who are those people following YOU? Some
of them are just plain creepy.” I think the key to understanding all this is
to forget about the following and followers. Educate yourself about hash
tags. Hash tags are denoted by the pound (#) sign and are essentially
folders of tweets that relate to a particular topic. Hey, folders are
something that those of us in document management know something about. You
can also search on particular terms. I find the biggest value I get out of
Twitter is through following a set of tags and terms that relate to our
industry. For example, one search I regularly run reports on the following:
#ecm, #aiim, #erm, “content management”, “document management”, and “records
management.” You get the idea.
- Twitter itself as an interface is not very good. You
can enter your searches and twits right on Twitter itself (http://www.twitter.com)
but it is not very satisfying. There are a number of clients out there, but
the one I like is Tweetdeck. Very simple and satisfying to use. There are
a gazillion (large number) of Twit apps and clients out there. Fun to
browse, but many are goofy.
- Speaking of goofy, do not expect Twitter to provide
moments of classic literature. There is much weirdness out there. I don’t
really get the point of tweets sent out to the void like this: “Moving home
facts: eating out vs. cooking 80/20 vs. 5/95, no cheddar, smoked short-back
bacon or Cumberland sausages.” There is an option to direct tweet someone -
just put a D in front of their name - but too often these kind of weird and
bizarre personal messages are just sent out into the world rather than to a
- Do not activate the text message delivery option. I
know a lot of people like this. It delivers twits from your followers
directly to your phone. I tried it and it drove me nuts.
- Lastly & most important, if you are using Twitter for
business or organizational means, tweet with that purpose in mind.
• Decide where you want to have a presence.
• Find the hashtags associated with those topics.
• Use the relevant hashtags in your tweets.
• Don’t just tweet junk. Tweet information that means something. Try to be
• Be generous in retweeting the tweets of others who are saying something
meaningful about the topics you care about. Follow these people.
• Use links. Shorten them (Tweetdeck does this automatically) before sending.
Drive people to your website.
• Don’t use up the full 140 characters. Leave 20 or so to make it easy for
people to retweet you.
• Set some time limits for yourself or all this can be pretty addicting. Like
15 min at the beginning and end of the day. Or on your cell phone when you’re
just standing in a line or waiting for an airplane. Don’t get carried away. It’s
a tool, remember?
There you go. Eight things you need to know about twitter and marketing your
business. Give it a try.
John Mancini is President of AIIM. He can be followed on Twitter at
jmancini77. For AIIM information visit