Confessions of a Marketer: Our Social Journey to Twitter
Corjan Bast / 20 January 2015
We, at ITpreneurs have been active on Twitter for a few years now but we were not very savvy in the way we used it. In the second half of 2014 we decided to see what would happen if we changed the way we interact on Twitter. In August we started a new initiative to to spend 30 minutes per day on Twitter and here’s a list of the things we learned and subsequently changed as a result. So for all you IT training and consulting organizations out there, here are some quick, ready-to-use tips for you!
Stop The Shouting
First off, what did we do wrong? Sure, Twitter is a channel suitable for sharing information but what you share and how you share it makes a big difference. If I’m at a party with a megaphone and all I do is shout, I’m probably more of a nuisance than anything else. However, if I were to engage with the audience, mingle, listen and have good conversation, perception of me would be different. In a nutshell, that’s what we tried to do on Twitter, shout less, listen and interact more. We even created an acronym to help us out, S.T.S.: Stop The Shouting.
Be Real – Don’t Use Automated Messages
An example of STS were the automated messages in our timeline. We used a program that would look at who engaged with our content and tweets. The program would then send out an auto-generated tweet. The problem with these messages is that anyone will recognize it’s a message you did not write yourself. If you want to be personal and social on Twitter, why use an auto-generated message that gets posted on your timeline every week? Here’s an example of an auto-generated tweet (below). You can use various tools to figure out who engages with you, but don’t crowd your timeline with these types of messages. Write a personal message or tweet instead.
— ITpreneurs (@ITpreneurs) November 12, 2013
Use Tools – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
You might think I’m against the use of tools, I’m not, we just have to make sure we use them in the right way. There are a couple of tools I’m experimenting with. The first one is Twitter Analytics—accessible to everyone with a Twitter account. It provides information about which tweets did well, which regions your followers come from and what their interests are. Why is this helpful? Well, if you don’t have followers in the US (or very few), while you do a lot of business there, you’ve just identified a gap. Another tool I use is Socialbro, I use it to find relevant people in a certain industry or region. There are many tools out there, have any good ones to share? Let me know (@RyeTerseGramp).
Listen – Don’t Just Talk
Another thing we didn’t do very well was “listen”—yes, we shared updates, but we would never take time to see what our followers were talking about. Why follow people if you don’t take the time to see what they’re up to? Here’s an example of listening: we saw a tweet from Mark Smalley, who responded to Dave van Herpen about “doing webinars”.
@daveherpen I just imagine that I'm talking to one person. Which is usually the case with my webinars…
— Mark Smalley (@marksmalley) August 25, 2014
Since I’m a fan of Roger Courville’s book titled “The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook” we responded with the following:
— ITpreneurs (@ITpreneurs) August 26, 2014
They continued their conversation and Roger, the author of the book, even shared a free online copy.
Be Personal – Don’t Hide
We used to hide behind our Twitter account. Never sharing a picture from a real person. As a result, our messages on Twitter would not reveal who we are. A missed opportunity because we’re all pretty good people 🙂 Here’s a tweet in response to instructors delivering a course for an ITpreneurs partner.
— ITpreneurs (@ITpreneurs) December 9, 2014
Banish Corporate Lingo – Don’t Pretend
Related to the previous item, we used a lot of “corporate speak”. Why do we do this if we don’t have a “corporate” culture? There are 150 Preneurs (that’s what we call ourselves) working at ITpreneurs and there’s no reason for “corporatism” (unless that’s your strategy, of course).
Share Relevant Updates – Don’t Be Afraid
If there are relevant things to share with your followers, do share. For example, we had updated our course book covers. Since many of our partners follow us, Twitter is a good way to share this update with them. Make sure you add a relevant image, your tweet will look a lot nicer. You can also share relevant updates by retweeting content from others: helpful tips, relevant news, cartoons, etc.
New course book covers have been finalized. Soon, when you order course books, they will look like this. pic.twitter.com/kAPFrzOmNE
— ITpreneurs (@ITpreneurs) August 12, 2014
Use Video – Don’t Be Stiff
Last year, we started to experiment with video. Yes, we’re still a bit stiff but we’re getting better. (Gary Hardy, our COBIT Guru usually quotes the golfer Gary Player: The more I practice, the luckier I get”). Video works well on social media, as it engages the audience quicker. I’ll bet you usually click a video in a timeline on Twitter / Facebook / Google+.
Here’s an example of a video we shot to invite our partners and prospects to attend a series of Go-To-Market webinars. Since we already made the video, why not share this video on social media? By the way, we shot this with a simple point and shoot camera and used an iPhone as a microphone so you can do it, too!
— May Sau (@MayYSau) November 4, 2014
When is a Good Time to Take Initiative?
You might be wondering about when is the right time to start an initiative to improve the way your company represents itself on Twitter. The answer is: right now. It’s really that simple. If you are already managing your company’s Twitter account (or your own) set a date to when you are going to change the way you act. Write down the things you want to change and get started. You can use the 1st of the next month to track your performance. For example, how many interactions, follows and mentions did you have in month one versus month two. If you’re not managing your Twitter account but believe some changes need to be made, simply forward this blog post to your colleague.
Of course I didn’t even cover half of the things you can do with Twitter. A simple search online will reveal many possibilities. My intent with this post is to empower you to take action. And to inconspicuously alter a famous quote:
Be the change on Twitter you want to see in the company.
After one month, we went from closed-to-no-engagement to active engagement with many of our partners, instructors and Twitter followers. We added more than 100 people to our follower base and Twitter became our #2 (previously #4) social media channel (after Linkedin). Last but not least, we also generated two qualified leads.
Still to Come:
In my next posts, I will be providing more social tips around:
- Following partners
- Using Twitter Ads
- Hootsuite and looking at the keywords
- Getting conversations started
- Reviewing a followers website and sending a DM
But I still need to find some time to test these out myself 🙂