Thursday, October 07, 2010

 

The Definitive Twitter Guide: A Conversation with Author Shannon Evans

Twitter may be easy to use (how long does it take to write 140 characters or less), but making it a productive, revenue-producing tool for your business is another story.

That's one reason why The Definitive Twitter Guide by Shannon Evans is such an important read for business owners and marketers alike. Throughout this easy-to-read book, Shannon shares a plethora of best practices and sage advice for turning one of today's most popular social media tools into a central part of your communications, networking and lead generation efforts.

I recently asked Shannon to share some of her ideas & perspective on Twitter with our readers. A transcript of our conversation is below.

How do you decide if Twitter is right for you in the first place? Is it for everyone?

Twitter is not for everyone. It really depends on where your 'people' hang out. If your target audience is 13-21 year olds, Twitter is probably not the right place. If it is businesses who produce goods/products/services for 30 somethings and over than Twitter is worth exploring!

It is for anyone who wants to listen to interesting conversation, learn about news and events as they unfold, and for crowd sourcing. Twitter is a terrific tool for businesses and organizations to:

The best or most powerful attribute of Twitter is that if done right it helps you promote, expand, and reinforce your credibility in the marketplace.

What kind of commitment do you need to have before you get started?

The start up with Twitter is minimal. Create a keyword rich profile, find good people to follow, and listen to others. The investment of time comes in figuring out what to say and who to say it to or who to cultivate as a follower and advocate for you and your product/goods/services, etc. Paying attention to what is being said and who is saying it can be time consuming. Fortunately there are wonderful tools to help with that.

Depending on your business model and what you deliver and what your goal is with Twitter than the time can be 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a day or a couple of hours a day. Most businesses will be the former rather than the latter!

What are your best practices for frequency, type of content, interacting with other Tweeters?

It depends on the purpose and intent of your account. Comcast uses it to listen to complaints about service, report outages, etc. Eric Rudolf uses it to promote his Small Company Blog and his article writing services. My friend Tamara Sellman uses it to promote her writing workshops and her writing genre. My Kids Heros uses it to raise awareness of wounded warriors returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan and to raise funds for various related charities. I use it to continue to collect case studies of businesses and non profits who use Twitter successfully for the second edition of this book.

Frequency is related to the needs of your audience, the commitment you are willing to make, and the useful information you might have to share. It could be posting something pertinent once a day, spending a few minutes early in the day and again late in the day responding to those who are sharing their experiences with your products or services or those of your competitors. It could just be that you saw something interesting that someone posted that was interesting and might be of interest to your following so you share it (retweet).

There are no hard rules about how to interact. There are merely some things related to etiquette that govern what is appropriate in your circle. So spamming, heavy sales, rude flaming comments, etc are just not done.

There are lots of services that will help you accelerate follower counts. Are those valuable?

NO! Would you hire a service to pick your friends and then send them to your 'house' to hang out? There are some tools that can help you better choose who to follow by keywords in profiles and tweets. THOSE are invaluable for finding like minded people to build your following one by one. But I stay away from bot followers.

There’s been quite a bit of debate about outsourcing social media work. How do you feel about that?

I think that is a loaded question. Would you hire someone who does not know your business or organization to pick up the phone or go out on the showroom floor and talk to your customers about your goods/services/products? It is a case by case basis.

Personally I believe you speak best for yourself. But perhaps that is not true in every case. I feel strongly about keeping it in house. But I am from the south and we are big on the personal touch. Social media is just that...social. So no matter how you use it you have to personalize it so it is right for your brand, your organization, and your audience.

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