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ABC's of Using Twitter Effectively

Twitter has taken the social media network by storm. Although some are simply using Twitter as just another instant message forum, internet marketers are finding that Twitter is a powerful marketing tool.

If you're going to use Twitter in your arsenal of marketing tools, you need to be careful how you use it. Let me give you some tips from my experience.

Once you've set your Twitter account up, upload your picture so it displays on your Twitter page. Reason for this is it personalizes your page. It becomes real, other Twitterers can put a face to your tweets. The worst faux pas you can make is leaving the generic avatar Twitter provides. It's ugly and, well, so generic. Here's a tweet from a friend on this subject:

I don't know how many others feel that way, but Jack and I do. So follow our advice and get a pic up as soon as possible.

New internet marketers are in too big of a hurry. I recently made a post exclaiming, "Social media marketing is like dating, guys. Just hold hands on the first date".

Here's what I mean. Twitter is still a social media platform, first and foremost. Even though it can be a powerful marketing tool, you still have to make friends first. Getting in too big of a rush will turn fellow tweeters off. And they do have a tendency to turn you off - by removing you from their follow list. You don't want that, trust me.

Take your time, use the Twitter platform to build relationships. Go slow, just like you're supposed to when you're dating. Here is a golden tip: If you choose to send a new follower a Direct Message (DM), please don't include a link to an affiliate product! By including affiliate links in your welcome DM, that tells your new follower is "I just wanting to make some money from you".

Update (April 2009) I don't send welcome DM's anymore. From my unofficial surveys, most peeps think welcome DM's are trite and insincere. My sentiments exactly. If you're using auto DM's, STOP! That's the ultimate in insincerity. Every few days, I post a tweet something like this: "To all my new followers, I don't send 'welcome Dm's because they're trite and meaningless. But I am glad you're on board for the ride."

If you're dead set in sending a welcome message, send a personal one, don't use an automated service to do it for you.

I my opinion, you should use links sparingly and with caution when contacting new followers. In my initial message, I've stopped including a link to my website. I don't offer a free gift or anything related to marketing. I just want my new follower to know I appreciate them choosing to follow my tweets. My website link is located in my profile, if they want to learn more about me, they can click on it there.

A key I've found that works for me is to write an interesting message that compels the new follower to go to your page and click the link. This requires me to think about what I'm going to write.

In the past, when I sent welcome messages, I sent mine out personally rather than using an automated sender. I had a basic format I used, but I also looked at the new followers Twitter page. If there's something personal or if we have a similar interest, I will include that in the welcome message. If at all possible, I find their first name. Sometimes this requires visiting their website or digging deeper. I believe it will pay off in the long run. After all, social media is about long term relationships.

I changed my welcome message frequently, but it was always personal in some fashion. Here are some real examples I used:

I couldn't find a name for this follower

This follower flies hangliders, so did I long time ago, I used it to connect with her

RoadKillCarl and I had a humorous exchange of tweets over road kill

Couldn't find out much about this follower

My "live life..." comment has been effective in initiating responses back to me

If you get a new follower and see from their Twitter page you have something in common, I think its a great idea to fashion your welcome message around the commonality.

Once you've made a connection with someone, that is, you're following them and they follow you, try to keep your conversations in the Direct Message (DM) form. Several reasons for this, the most important is it keeps your conversation private. Because your tweets are limited to 140 characters, a conversation can quickly become a lot of tweets. Your followers will appreciate you not adding a long line of meaningless tweets in your public timeline.

Another golden tip worthy of mentioning. If you're using Twitter as a marketing tool, stay focused. Keep your posts related to your focus. Useless posts such as the following should be used spareingly or avoided:

    "drinking coffee"

    "I want pizza"

    "just returned from a walk"

    "i'm tired"

    "just went to the john"

    "just returned from the loo"

Obviously, you should use good judgement. Probably 50% of my tweets are just chit-chat, getting to know my followers. But my focus is to develop relationships. The other half of my tweets are useful information about marketing and business in general.

I've been asked several times by newbies to Twitter how to attract followers. There's much that's been written about this subject so I'm going to just sum it all up with a few words. Provide something of value. If you're new, jump into a conversation with a question. Or post a question to all your followers.

People like to click links. If you find something interesting in the news or on youtube.com, post the link and say, "this is cool...", "verrry interesting..." or "I found this helpful..."

One technique I use is to post music tunes from youtube on Twitter. I've connected with several followers because we like the same music.

If someone I follow is continuously posting absurd, meaningless tweets, I'm going to eventually remove them from my list. I mean, what's the use of following someone like this? I use Twitter to not only expand my personal network but also to learn from it, too.

Foul language should be completely avoided in your tweets. There's no room for "f*ck this, f*ck that" in any business environment. It's totally unprofessional. Some people aren't offended at foul language, and I'm certainly no prude. But if your purpose with Twitter is to build a business network, foul language will turn off more than it will attract.

What do you do if you are following people but they aren't following you back? To be honest, in the beginning I would unfollow those who weren't following me back. But I've changed my mind about this. Now, I go to their Twitter page and look it over. Are their interests similar to mine. Or, are they involved in areas I would like to know more about?

If there is a link in their profile to a webpage or blog, I go for a visit to look it over. More times than not, I'll find out a lot more about someone from their blog or webpage than is shared on their Twitter page.

If that doesn't produce sufficient results, I'll go back to their Twitter page and take a look at what they've been posting and who they post to. Most of time, you can learn alot about someone from their posts.

After this investigation, I send a post to them. And I'll make a comment about something I like or learned from their webpage, blog or posts to other Twitterers.

You know what, more than half the time, they respond back and follow me in return. It just happened again today.

This technique I've described takes some extra time, but it works. LIsten, you're only going to get from Twitter what you put into it. I know for multitudes, it's just a passing fad. But Twitter is a real tool to meet new people from around the world you would otherwise never come in contact with.

I've made a new friend through Twitter who was around the 4500th to join. He's been Twittering for more than 2 years. He's told me of the valuable relationships he's made and nurtured because of this medium. Twitter will be valuable to you also if you value it and invest yourself into it.

Your tweets should give value to those who are following you. I often just scan the tweets and if someone is asking a question or needing help, I try to provide an answer or solution. Here's a reply back to me after I helped a guy when Twitter moved the delete msg icon:

You can use humor as a way of providing value, too. Gregg Scott, @GreggScott is a master at using his pithy humor in his tweets. Here's a recent series of tweets:

Bottom line, go slow, build relationships and have fun. That's what social media marketing is all about.

Did you like this? Follow me on Twitter here: @david_tinney and learn more useful info in real time.

Related articles:
Why I Do #FollowFriday
Using Twitter Effectively