Follow to be followed on Twitter

A Hotspot report “State of the Twittersphere” (pdf) has revealed some interesting insight into the popular micro blogging site.

With massive growth in the last year (600% according to 70% of users joined in the last year.

With 35% of Twitter users having 10 or fewer followers and 9% of Twitter users not following anyone at all, many of the new followers may not understand how social networking works.

Many attempting to access this rapidly growing network often seem to expect the masses come rushing to hear their messages, however this environment is not for one way discussion – to be successful you’ve got to either have some real hot property that twitter users are going to be eager to follow or actively engage with the community.

Some simple rules for starting with Twitter:

  • Post at least a message a day to show people who visit your page you’re twitter account is active
  • Find others who have similar interests and follow them (don’t follow just anyone)
  • Only follow those who are active users – active users are more likely to follow you
  • Follow others in small chunks, keeping the gap between followers and followed no more than 200
  • Use friendorfollow to discover who you follow who does not follow you back
  • Re-post messages of interest, giving credit to the originator
    • to do this precede message with RT or Retweet ‘@theirtwittername’
  • Reply to messages of interest
    • to do this precede message with ‘@theirtwittername’
  • Send messages to those who follow you thanking them for their follow*
  • Follow those who follow you*

* Auto follow and auto notes to new followers can be done via SocialToo.

And of course follow my twitter (I promise to follow you)

Twhirl your Twitter

Twitter is an excellent tool. It is a quick and easy way to let your friends know what you are doing without insisting that they have to visit Facebook to see your current status. Because it is a micro-blog entries take no longer than to send a text message.

For politicians Twitter is an easy way to let constituents know what you are doing and which campaigns you are supporting. For businesses Twitter has huge potential for you to keep in touch with your customers.

Since joining Twitter I have set up and use several accounts. My Wellbelove twitter is my personal twitter with a mixture of SEO / SEM and Social Media together with general stuff. My Clapham twitter I share with my fellow Clapham Town councillors with updates of work we are doing in the ward. My CllrWellbelove twitter is used currently to let people know what I am doing as Deputy Mayor of Lambeth and next year I will use it for updates as Mayor. And finally the BiggerThinking Twitter is used to highlight updates to BT’s Bigger Thinking thought leadership programme.

Managing so many accounts was proving difficult. Constantly logging out of one to then log into another – until I discovered Twhirl.

Twhirl is a Twitter client that enable you to connect to multiple Twitter and FriendFeed accounts. I can now have four windows open at the same time, enabling me to monitor messages from other Twitters and easily add fresh tweets to any of my accounts.Screen short of Twhirl

Another excellent feature is the ability to send the same message to other Twitter type sites at the same time. With Twhirl you can have the same message appear in Pownce and Jaiku. This solves the problem that if your friends are on different networks your Twitter message can now appear on all three simultaneously.

Other features include posting messages to TwitPic, search tweets using TweetScan and shorten long URLs using snurl, twurl and

When setting up your account I would suggest switching of the audio alerts – especially if you are following a lot of Twitters.

Other Twitter Favourites



Making the most of your content: Social Media Optimisation

Many politicians and businesses have barely begun to get a grip with Search Engine Optimisation, but do need to learn about Social Media Optimisation if they wish to stay ahead of the game.

Social Media Optimisation is about utilising the social media environments to promote your messages and content. In some cases this involves taking your content into the environment where your audience is comfortable and already visiting on a frequent basis. This could be by simply copy and pasting your content into these different environments, however if you want to make the most or truly optimise you need to think about where the content is going and adjusting it to be more applicable for the audience and the type of site.

With a majority of the social media environments do not be tempted to simply signpost to your main site. A consumer of your content should be able to choose to stay where they are to get information, feel free to highlight your main site but do not expect them to always go there. Remember what is important is not just the number of visits to your website but to get across those messages.

A good example of the use of Social Media Optimisation is the Barack Obama Facebook page which at the time of writing has over 718,000 supporters. Here visitors can watch video’s, catch up with the news via a feed, view pictures and enter debates via the Facebook Wall. The huge number of fans will not just be evidence of his popularity but because this page is updated on a regular basis Facebook users will want to have a ‘supporter’ link on their page as a quick way back to this page.

The rules are different with micro blogging services such as Twitter, with a limit to the number of characters you message has to be short, sharp and to the point including a link to the full story either on yours or another website. A good example of the use of this is the unofficial Twitter for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown.

Once set up these additional environments should not take a huge amount of time to maintain. When you create any new content it should, where appropriate, be produced in a variety of formats for the different environments. With video this would mean limiting the length and file size for YouTube, topping and tailing with a promo for your site. For Google video you do not have the same limits on size of the video so you could add a promo to the end.

When entering Social Media environments it is important to be respectful of its users. Spamming will not be tolerated and will be damaging. Don’t expect everything to go your way, where visitors can leave messages they can leave both good and bad ones. That is not a reason not to go there though – if someone wants to attack you or your brand they can set up their own groups to do this. At least by you owning this page you can monitor and respond where appropriate, though often your fans or supporters will do that for you – and the debate could drive interest.

Social Media Optimisation is a useful addition to your campaign. Done properly, as many – if not more, people will view your content. For the small investment in time uploading your content to several different sites you can – and will – reach new audiences, customers and voters.

Are you a twit or a twitter?

Many politicians are familiar with being called a twit, as would be some front line staff of many organisations large and small. Not many would be familiar with the term ‘Twitter’.

So what is twitter, and should you be twittering?

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service allowing members to send updates which are text-based posts, which can be up to 140 characters long, to the Twitter website. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

Updates can be added to a twitter by a wide variety of ways including via the Twitter website, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific.

Those wanting to keep up-to-date with your twitter can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. Your twitter alerts can either be open to anyone to subscribe or you can create a closed group of approved subscribers.

You may think that this is pointless, or great fun. The majority of twitters so far are people just wanting to keep up-to-date with what their friends – but does Twitter offer opportunities to politicians or businesses.

For politicians there are several opportunities, twitter could be used to keep voters updated on what they are doing or update supporters on their campaign. Twitter alerts could be used to alert voters to the need to vote, and which party to vote for.

For businesses twitter could be used to alert subscribers to special offers, new products or updates to their website.

For a charity this could alert supporters to new campaigns or updates on fund raising efforts.

For a television company they could remind fans of a particular programme to alert fans to when their favourite programme is going to air.

For music artists they could tell their fans where they are playing or highlight a new release for downloading online.

Twitter could be used to alert members or employees of internal messages, though if you have a closed list you will need processes to identify and remove those who move to another organisation.

As with all subscriber services those setting up twitters for either political or business purposes need to remember that if you spam your audience they can and will unsubscribe. As with email marketing you must ensure that a message goes out soon after your subscribers come on board, if you do not send an update for several months after they joined the subscriber may have forgotten that they subscribed and see the message as spam.

140 characters gives similar challenges that those writing for Google Adwords, especially in German language where the words are typically a lot longer.

So why use Twitter as opposed to an SMS delivery service? Twitter is a social network with, if your updates are open, others able to discover and subscribe to your updates from their Twitter account. Adding a Twitter button on your site will attract your visitors that are already Twitter users to subscribe to your alerts.

You can monitor how many ‘followers’ you have, send direct messages to individual followers and followers can send direct messages to you.

How to create a Twitter account
This is very easy – simply visit the Twitter website and register. Think about your username as this will be associated with the messages on your feed.

Twitter to your Facebook
Often when I advise politicians on how to best use the web to communicate with their constituence they tell me how they have no time to maintain so many sites and to communicate in so many different ways. One of the great developments of Web 2.0 sites is the convergence of features from many different websites as they allow each other to feed into them. With the Twitter Sync application you will not only send out messages to your ‘followers’ but update your Status Profile on Facebook at the same time.

How to add your Twitter to your WordPress page
You can see my twitter on the left hand side of this blog. To do this yourself after setting up a twitter account go to the WordPress dashboard, select presentation, widgets, drag RSS 1, click within RSS 1 to configure, from the bottom of your Twitter page right click on the RSS button and copy shortcut, put this shortcut in the configuration box for RRS 1, you need to save changes and then should see this in your WordPress page. If it doesn’t work check you’ve saved at every stage and that you see the confirmation that your blog has been updated. Other blog services also have widgets that enable this.

Should you really twitter?
Many years ago in the United Kingdom the telecommunications company ran a campaign featuring a character a chatty bird called Buzby. If Buzby was still around today I am sure he would be twittering away – if you don’t other’s will be twittering louder, and reaching those you need to twitter to.