Tag Archives: insights

Ten Top Twitter Tips

I’ve been Tweeting (making posts on Twitter) for some time now, both for personal learning/enjoyment and to engage in community conversation on behalf of several clients.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service, allowing users to send little 140-character messages out to “Followers,” exchanging tidbits of conversation and potentially exposing that conversation to a larger grid.

Here are some hands-on tips to help you get started on Twitter, or add some insights if you’re already there. To really understand this, reg for Twitter and toggle between your profile page and this post…but you’ll get the general idea by just reading it.

1. Play with a friend. To get to know Twitter a bit, encourage a friend or two to sign on when you do. Then play. Post Tweets, poke around, get the feeling for how it works.

2. Meet your neighbors. There are a few ways to do this…

  • Use the “Search” box (just right of big Twitter logo; top of page) and key in topics/tags that interest you. When names show up, check the profile, and if it feels like an appropriate connection, press “Follow” beneath the profile pic.
  • If you find a profile you like on Twitter, and you “Follow” them, you have access to a mosaic of the people they follow (the pictures in the column toward the right of the Twitter page). Hover over those pics to see names; click on them to see profiles. Again, if there’s affinity, you can choose to follow.
  • Watch your Facebook (and other social network) friend statuses. If if reads “(Name) is twittering:“ then that person is using Twitter. Click through to their name, scan their profile for the Twitter application, and follow. Or just search for them on Twitter (but note: many people use a “handle” on Twitter that differs from their real name—I’m “ chep2m ”—so you don’t always get a direct hit).

Remember that as you “Follow” people the larger Twitter community will have access to you through the “Twit Grid,” so follow where you want to be found. And use discretion. Follow only when there is some sort of click; build slowly and you’ll find the right people.

3. Crack the code. Two simple Twitter tools to start with:

  • The “at sign” (this guy: “ @ “). Use it when you want to send a public message (called a “reply”) to a specific person. For example, if you sent “@chep2m : testing Twitter” it would reach me (even if I don’t follow you) AND it would show up in my “Replies” tab (near the top of your profile page…see it? Be sure to check this whenever you sign in to Twitter; it’s where people send replies or public messages specifically to you. (Note: if you send a reply message, make sure that you don’t add punctuation right after the name. “ @cheptum “ will reach me. “ @cheptum: “ (note colon) will not.
  • Direct messages. The letter “ d “ allows you to send a direct, private message to anyone you follow who also follows you. Access these direct messages through the narrow column to the right of your Twitter profile, following the phrase “Direct Messages.” Note that this will only work for mutual followers (when both parties follow each other). Practice this with one of your Twitter friends.

4. Read the Twitter blog. Just book an hour and do it. And check back now and again. It feels like the people at Twitter can’t keep up with all of the noise and growth (love that problem) but they bring some good info together here. It’s worth a wander; enjoy…subscribe if you like it.

5. Keep a list of Twitter enhancements, or bookmark mine (coming soon). The list is growing every day; some of them are quite useful. If you come up with a new one, add it to the list.

6. Make noise beyond the Twittosphere. Only way to build a following is for people to know you’re there. Add your Twitter address to your email sig, your online profiles, even your business cards. Add a Twitter RSS feed to your Web page or Blog (details in my Business Twitter Tips). Here’s how I added a Twitter “friend stream” to my WordPress blog.

7. Tweet early, Tweet often. Show up. Post Tweets. Ask questions. Join conversations about things that interest you. Comment (using the “ @ “, of course) on smart things your Twitter friends say. Say “thanks!” when others share good info. Just engage in the whole Twitter thing and you will figure each other out.

8. Go mobile. Tons of Twitter apps for the iPhone and Blackberry… and beyond. Set your preferences to dial up/down on what actually hits your phone (almost nothing hits mine) but send updates even when you’re remote. I use PocketTweets but Twitter mobile clients abound.

9. Don’t be a stranger. Say hi on the weekends. Tweet in the evening. Bring a bit of your self into your Tweeting, even if you’re using it primarily for business connections and learning. You check in with your colleagues about their outside lives and interests, right? Same applies to Twitter.

10. Enjoy. Twitter delivers a cool world of conversation, chat, social currency, and great information to one fun, active place. Work and play with it. Twitter is a cool landmark in the growing social ecosystem and I believe it has an ongoing part to play in the growing business conversation that all of are a part of. Have fun!

One more thing. Eleven is such a random number, but I had to share one more: use Tweetburner if you are posting URLs in Tweets. It shortens them (remember: 140 characters max) and makes them trackable, plus you can post to your Twitter account directly from the Tweetburner window. Be sure to add a bit of (con)text before you post the URL. Try it…easy.

Want more? Read Tara Hunt’s excellent post on Twitter and these good insights from WebGuild.

Stay tuned. I’ll do a Top Ten Twitter Tips for businesses very soon.


Creating Infectious Engagement: Social Marketing at the Stanford d-School

Huge props to the Stanford d-School team for opening their doors for “Creating Infectious Engagement,” a community discussion on virality, engagement, and “getting the word out,” whatever that word might be.

This conference featured case studies and speakers illuminating different ways to gain critical mass through grassroots, process-oriented and innovative methods. I appreciated how the various speakers shared diverse angles, engaging unique ways of thinking and “cross training” our neurons to fire in multiple ways around engagement.

CASE STUDY: LIGHTS OUT SAN FRANCISCO. Former Google PR guy Nathan Tyler (Google him. Entertaining) shared clear, actionable tips on “To-and-Not-To-Do” when building grassroots momentum. In his case, it was a groundbreaking 10/07 (03/08, too) event that inspired individuals, offices, and organizations around San Francisco to turn off their lights for one hour. He influenced city officials to power down the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge, and sparked “me-too” events in LA, Sydney and beyond.

Nathan’s key points:

– Connect with real people and be relentless, enthusiastic and authentic (Funny how the A-word continues to pop up).

– Keep it simple. Force yourself to limit ideas and do one thing well. Resist overdesign from the start. And keep that focus local and small for as long as possible.

– Start with your own community (online and real world) and let it grow from there.

– Remain honest, humble and open throughout.

– Make everything replicable (especially Web tools) and share widely.

– Little gifts, reminders, promotions outvalued posters and printed materials (my take on this was that people valued identity and connection more than words. They wanted the affinity more than they wanted facts).

Nathan emphasized that organic/grassroots momentum out-valued the ROI on relationship-building with established organizations, institutions and associations. He implied that their investment was diluted relative to the more “core” drive of impassioned visionaries, but conceded that there is a hand-off (when you reach a certain scale) were these partnerships assume more value.

SPEAKER: DAVID MAXFIELD OF VITALSMARTS. As the author of “Influencer: the Power to Change Anything,” David is no stranger to persuasion. His points on multiple sources of influence, and his movie about “learning will” (featuring a 6th grader running a marshmallow-based behavioral modification experiment with hungry 4-year-olds), were memorable, but his pitch felt disjointed.

I would have been more persuaded (I assume to attend one of his workshops, buy his book, or have him speak at my place of business) had he been more generous with what he offered and delivered real value instead of the “tease” he presented. Interesting lesson on conversion and uptake, right there real time.

CASE STUDY: COOLIRIS AND THE STANFORD PARTY TEAM. This was the one that blew me away. Not only is CTO Austin Shoemaker a fellow Apple Alum (and rower!), he and CEO Soujanya Bhumkar have created two amazing innovations. The first is a visual “wall” that grabs content from the Web, photo sites, social networks and even online catalogs to create a stunning “in the round” visual search engine that truly moves (in their words) beyond the browser. Second, and even better, IMHO, is a breakthrough program that puts marketing, product design, bd, testing, and all forms of innovation directly into the hands of the Party Team, a band of 37 Stanford students that assume responsibility for building buzz and integrity around the Cooliris experience.

With a student:”grown-up” ratio of 3:1, the kids definitely run the place, and they do it well. The “official” team supports their needs and innovations and guides decision-making to move with their initiatives.

I’ve long been an advocate for user-permeable organizations and customer/community proximity, and have even guided a few clients to form “student boards” for ongoing brainstorm sessions, but Cooliris’ work takes active user engagement to a whole new level. This is a company I will watch and learn more from and I encourage you to do the same.

SPEAKER: HAYAGREEVA RAO OF THE STANFORD GSB. “Huggy” introduced a simple mantra for creating engagement: “Hot Causes + Cool (as in “Cool”) Solutions.” The combination of an impassioned, emotionally-infused call—Change something! Think for yourself! Do it better!—and a bit of swagger in the implementation comprised Huggy’s suggested formula for inspiring a movement.

Citing microbrewing as a cultural movement, defined by a Hot Cause (“Wake up! You have tastebuds! Don’t let Big Beer tell you what to drink…especially if it’s their lousy brew) meeting a Cool Solution (the community, collective and culture of homebrewing) transformed the notion of “beer” in our culture and dramatically shifted the market concentration of artisanal beer (such that the US now outpaces Germany in artisanal beer production by some market ratio that I needed a brew to understand) over a very short period of time.

Huggy has a book in the works exploring the cultural causes of organizational change, and based on his research it’s one I would at least scan. The case studies would provide good inspiration applicable to a variety of products and markets.

All in all: time very well spent. I valued the various angles from which the four presenters (and the engaged, insightful d-School faculty) explored the nature of change and movement, and I found much of the content directly applicable to client scenarios I’m addressing now and thinking about for the future.

Gracias to my friend John Zeisler (who coaches at the d-School) for inviting me to take part.