To say Twitter is hot is quite an understatement. In a world thirsty for leadership, everyone seems to be following these days. In the past week, I have attended some interesting presentations on the Internet and making sense of social media for business. It’s a reality and a resource—no doubt, but there is still rampant confusion about how to optimize it. I am very interested to know how you view social media and use it.
I met a true social media master this week—Ben Smithee. He is an astute Gen Y entrepreneur steeped in the savvy of social media—particularly for market research. He says no one has ever called him a guru, but I certainly would. Ben has an impressive grasp of all the latest and greatest tools. Regarding Twitter, he recommends we not Tweet as a business, but as a human voice. Make your messages personal and conversational—not institutional or programmatic. Interact with customers, donors, or clients as individuals, not a solid mass. It’s Communication 101. Make it intimate. Vulnerability is where real connection happens. In fact, I absolutely loved Ben’s term for social media—“ambient intimacy.”
And then, it hit me! That’s the magic of social media. It permeates our everyday lives. Call it habit or even addiction, as some have. For many, social media can become part of their everyday unconscious impulses. That’s why we need to pay attention to this stuff. We can actually use Twitter and other social media tools to enhance intimacy with patrons, donors, customers, or clients by humanizing your missions and our value propositions. Focus on the anecdotal—on stories with authentic fiber, as opposed to carefully crafted messages. It takes so much more than an understanding of the tools and technology that power social networks to inspire change and build long-term, meaningful relationships. You must immerse yourself in the conversation.
You are the personality and the soul of the brand you represent. Think of social media as the page where we compose digital poetry to inspire. These tools are born from technological advances, but they are rooted in the most basic elements of human communication—conversation, curiosity, caring, and connection. I guess you could call them the four “Cs” of social media—a girl’s (or boy’s) “second” best friend, I suspect. Here are a few more tips and concepts for your Tweet Sheet:
• Tweet. Message to your followers.
• Retweet. Share status messages on Twitter. It’s a great way of building relationships.
• @Replies. Direct a message that is available to all. Great way to lift others up.
• #Hashtags. Create ways to search and group information/initiatives/activities.#MoRanch
• Promote your blog or podcast. But try to do it conversationally. Ask people what they think or pose a rhetorical question. Don’t just SPAM the URL. Also, be careful about headlines or questions that are TOO provocative. I have learned this the hard way. Sometimes it’s best to leave your clever copywriter hat in the closet and just be REAL.
• Follow a specific cause of entity. Consider finding the right people tweeting about that cause or entity, and build a blended dashboard tool such as Hootsuite.
• Understand how people are really using Twitter. Monitor the @ replies, and see how they interact with others. Some folks use Twitter like a megaphone, and others use it like a walkie-talkie.
• Make business connections. As always, listen first. Learn more about the person, follow their links, read their blogs, and get to know them. As I have said in the past on my blog, it’s a courtship. You date before you marry. In this space, you listen, respond, and participate—before you pitch or solicit!
• Create a tweet strategy. Instead of tweeting “what are you doing?” try “What are you passionate about?” The answer to that could be very interesting and revealing.
And for nonprofit causes, hashtags have become an effective tool in building awareness and motivating action. They make it easy to search and identify a particular trend. Blame Drew’s Cancer http://blamedrewscancer.com/# (hashtag: #blamedrewscancer) is a great example. Drew Olanoff recently contracted Hodgkins Lymphoma, and launched his campaign. The tweets are pulled into http://www.blamedrewscancer.com with the goal that their sheer volume will trigger a large donation from a nonprofit organization. The site recently announced that Livestrong will be a partner.
So, get creative! And let us know—what’s working for you? Follow me.