5 steps to Twitter success

This is really for the benefit of one of my work colleagues who asked for some advice on what to do about Twitter.  It was an unanticipated request, so I didn't have time to plan a step by step approach.  Even my half-day Twitter 101 workshop doesn't offer a linear path to follow.  It is more of an immersive experience to give people the knowledge and the language to figure out for themselves what to do with T-word that they feel compelled to do something about.

Here is a simple to follow 5 step process if you feel like figuring out this Twitter thing.

STEP 1 - Why?

What do you want to do with Twitter?  The answer to that question will determine everything that follows.  Do you want to just observe and use it for informational purposes?  Are you in a professional role that requires you to manage an organizational Twitter account?  Do you want to build your personal brand in the community?  Maybe you simply want to understand what all the fuss is about?  Whatever the reason, start by figuring it out and writing it down.

STEP 2 - Learn the basics

Whether you're intent on being a lurker or an influencer, you have to achieve a basic level of literacy to be conversant and effective in this social media space.  The purpose of the hashtag (#), placement of links and rich content, and the profile identifier (@) all come into play as do retweets, favourites, lists, and myriad other things.  This is where taking my Twitter 101 course would be handy.  Of course, the internet is filled with insights and information, too.  Take the time to learn the difference between:

You'll never believe it! Prime Minister Harper was seen shopping in Fort McMurray this afternoon.


You'll never believe it! @PMHarper was seen shopping in #YMM this afternoon. #ymm #fortmac #cdnpoli

These messages are identical in content, but will have drastically different levels of penetration based on their structure.

STEP 3 - Get started

Carve out some time every day to begin doing what you set out to do.  Find 15 minutes to read tweets, find followers, do some searches, and if it's part of your motivation, write a few tweets and fire them out.

"I don't care if you're on social media personally," I said to my staff as this stuff was exploding about 6 years ago, "but I absolutely need you there professionally."

Those that jumped in with both feet grew into some of the most most influential social media voices in our region.  In order to get it, you have to do it.  There is no other way.

STEP 4 - Make a commitment

Based on your objective in Step 1 make a commitment and stick to it.

If you only want to watch what's going on in the Twittersphere, find time in your day to check it out.  Do a quick scan walking between meetings.  Grab your iPad in the evening and just play with it for awhile.

If you are setting out to be a presence on Twitter, either personally or professionally, then make a commitment to tweet.  Whether it's once, twice or 5 times a day, find a number and don't output any less than that.  And be sure not to feel bad that you're not keeping up to the super users.  There are many of us who, as my friend Don Power (author of Twitter for Skeptics) says, think in tweets.  Don't even try to keep up with us, you will stress yourself out.  You have to walk before you crawl, and even if you have the aspiration to be a Twitter phenom, you have to establish your voice and presence slowly and surely.  It starts with setting a target and sticking to it.

STEP 5 - Measure your progress

There are multiple metrics that you can tap into to find out how you're doing.  How many accounts you are following, number of tweets, number of followers can and should be tracked and recorded somewhere if you really want to win in this space.  Other tools are readily available to you if you want to measure your influence, reach and effectiveness.

My favourite is Klout.com.  It automatically gathers data about your social media activity and gives you a score.  When you are being really affective, you will see your number rise.  Conversely, during the summer months or over the Christmas holidays, when people are less plugged in than normal, you will likely see your score fall.  This is normal.  Don't panic.

What tweets inspired retweets, favourites and a reply or response?  What was it about the structure of the tweet that worked?  How can you replicate the success attributes in other ways?

What are the tweets that are catching your eye, and why?  What can you learn about what other people are doing?

Millions of us have found personal value from Twitter, which is why it has been integrated into so much of what we do.  For me, it is a vehicle to share information with my community, a conduit to content that I want people to see (like this blog), and a way to stay in touch with what is going on in the world.  Ultimately, you have to find value in the space or you will eventually leave.  If you take these 5 steps, you will find out within about a month whether Twitter has added value to your life, or if it has been a time sucker.

Happy tweeting!


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