23 February 2010

Twitter as social media — How to do it right!

The word social media is buzzing around the town, both online and offline. Simply put, the social media is a platform where the providers and the recipients engage with each other. This is slightly contrary to traditional media where organisations and individuals chose to only talk to their customers or users and expect them to receive and endorse it.

Thanks to technologies like blogs, facebook, Twitter, Google buzz, etc, social media has evolved more powerfully on the Internet. Here not just celebrities or authorities, but also the voice of a common man echoes. Other members of this community who are at the receiving end are also able to voice out their views and be heard.

Not just tech geeks and celebrities, but cats, squirrels, dogs, and even gadgets (@Toaster @OfficeChair @HacklabToilet @PiMPY3WASH) use social media such as Twitter, and now it is has become more compelling for brands to ‘be there’ in such social media and engage with their customers.

Let’s take ‘Twitter’ as a sample social media for our discussions today, as I use it more as a constant source of information and interactions in real-time. It takes less than five minutes to Twitter: sign up with username, password and e-mail address. But it’s a bigger game after that.

Here are few tips and guidelines for those who joined Twitter and are finding it confusing. The power of Twitter lies in your network: people who follow you on Twitter, others whose accounts you follow and those who (RT) Repeat Tweets — your posts to their network of friends online.

Here are few things to get you started.

  • Locate people you know in real life on Twitter and follow them — most often they will also follow you backv Wish them and reply just as courteously as you would in real life.

  • Although limited by 140 characters, your tweets must be readable — along with spelling and grammar, clarity of communication is important.

  • Etiquette and diplomacy are vital when you have only 140 characters to communicate and what you say is available for the open public to readv As much as possible keep you tweet text length under 120 characters. This makes it easy for others to repeat your posts along with your username without much editing work.

  • If you make mistakes, do not hesitate to apologise and say a simple ‘Sorry’ — Tweet friends are more understanding than you can imagine and nobody is perfect.

  • Read full timeline (appears when you click on a username) of a user to understand their style, context and areas of interest. You can get to know about them when you read their profile or the blog/website link that appears in their profile.

  • Several abbreviations and words with numbers used on Twitter are taken off from the chat lingo, so check their meaning in case of doubt.

  • Be ready to dedicate a little more time in the initial stage to read other’s tweets. It gives you a fair idea what is going on within this little community and they share their posts in their own unique style.

  • If you see links in a post, they lead you to photographs or video or even website links — this may take some more time to load and read. You can mark such tweets as favourites and revisit them later when you are free to view.

  • It is a matter of respect to reply to tweets directly addressed to you — They appear when you click ‘Mentions’ link.v Also use the search box wisely — type words of interest say news, hobby, technical buzz words etc — the results are tweets on this topic. If you like any of these tweets, you can repeat tweet them with attribution (RT via their username)

  • Before you RT other Tweets make certain the links are working and information is fairly authentic. Try not to spread false rumours and bad information through your account.

  • Corporates that Twitter their offers and new updates from blogs or website are treated much like any other marketing campaign. But when it is humane and lighter, customer relationship only gets stronger.

  • One wise tip: Take a second to re-read your tweet before clicking that ‘Update’ status button. “Am I sending to the right person the right message using the right words”, ask yourselves.

  • When over 50 million Tweets flood twitter every single day, make certain you add your value there or at the least make someone smile with your Tweet.

While the above can only serve as a guideline, practical experience cannot be replaced. So see you all on Twitter and follow me @SangitaSri and happy tweeting on social media.

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