Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: It’s Nothing Personal – Twitter is What You Make of It

It’s Nothing Personal – Twitter is What You Make of It

I was working through a client’s marketing plans the other day when I hit on the subject of Twitter.

“Have you set up a Twitter account yet?” I asked.

I heard one of the youngest of the team, maybe twenty-something, let out a snort. This was a conference call so I couldn’t see her expression, but it’s never good when a client snorts in the middle of a meeting.

“Well, I’ve heard of Twitter,” the CEO of the company replied, “but I’m not really sure what it is.”

I had a brief nanosecond to consider how I would describe Twitter to a serious business person when the young marketer chimed in, “It’s this thing where people say what they are doing at any given moment.”

I have to admit that this was my impression of Twitter not too long ago. I likened using Twitter to trying to get serious work done sitting in a grade school cafeteria. I saw it as hopeless amounts of inane chatter interrupting real work.

But Twitter has evolved. Or maybe it’s me that’s evolved. Either way, I don’t see Twitter in the same way I used to. I suspect, a great deal of it is because I’ve created my own Twitter guidelines. As a business user these have served me well so I thought I’d share these with you:

- I only use Twitter for professional purposes. My friends and other contacts can connect with me through facebook, email, or in-person since holograms aren’t available yet.

- Since I only use Twitter for professional purposes, I only follow those who are in my profession. Sometimes I’ll follow a client to see if they are getting the hang of using the tool, but for the most part, I follow fellow-marketers.

- When I find someone interesting, I will click on their ID to see their last several tweets and determine from those whether they stay on topic or not. For this reason, if someone has protected their tweets, I tend not to follow unless I know them really well.

- For the rare mistake I make, I have no qualms about unfollowing.

- Twitter is not IM and it’s not email. You aren’t expected to read every tweet. You could drive yourself insane trying to keep up.

- Since nothing I tweet is personal, I don’t protect my tweets. That means anybody can follow me unless I purposefully block them.

- I try to tweet a couple of times a day to stay involved. This is pretty easy for me since I have my blog linked to Twitter and it posts my blog. The other tweet is most often about a useful blog post I found, or a retweet of something that someone else tweeted. Both of these types of tweets help me “pay it forward” by recognizing the work of others in my field. Karma-wise, it seems to pay off.

- I use Twitter to research companies. My tool of choice is TweepSearch to find who from the company is tweeting.

- I use TweetDeck to segment those I follow into groups. This allows me to more easily focus on those I am closest to or find most inspiring.

- I follow the old rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I suppose that someday if I'm stuck on the tarmac for six hours I could break that rule, but generally I tend to be pretty even-keel, especially online.

- And, for the one that will make most “Tweeps” gasp in horror, I don’t keep Twitter running throughout the day. I’ll open it up a couple times a day when I find I need inspiration – something to blog about, an answer to a challenge, or just a little pick-me-up.

Since most of you who read this blog are probably using Twitter, I’d love to hear what guidelines you’ve set for yourself.

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