Giving a Tweet: Using Twitter Thoughtfully

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When speaking of Twitter, the inevitable questions arise: Do people even care about my tweets? Is Twitter an effective way to alert my clients about happenings at my business? How do I make sure I collect the “right” followers? Twitter, although a few years old, somehow still manages to summon skepticism in marketers on a regular basis.

A few days back, a great blog on the New York Times website waxed poetically about all Twitter topics. Author MP Mueller, founder of boutique agency Door Number 3 in Austin, gets right to the heart of all things Twitter-tastic. She admits that she herself had a hard time getting into Twitter and points out that the large majority of Twitter users are men (as women tend to struggle with using 140 characters or less to express themselves). She does, however, acknowledge the power of the medium, singling out Austin’s Bird’s Barbershop, which uses Twitter to alert clients of discounts. Bird’s, like fellow Austin-based business Whole Foods (which boasts more than 2 million followers) has taken to Twitter as a direct line of communication with its customers. Most interesting, though, Mueller notes that social media’s secret ingredient is time. It takes time to build followers, time to create thoughtful strategies and time to update everyday.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mueller on all points about Twitter – except her initial cynicism. As a citizen of Los Angeles, I’ve witnessed Twitter transform businesses, events and even celebrities for a few years now. I am thrilled she pointed out the time factor. We all tend to be magic wand addicted, meaning that we want wondrous results and we want them now. Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare all take ample time to manage (I recommend setting aside at least an hour and as many as four hours a day to be successful at social media marketing). She also makes some vital points about meaningful content. Avoiding mundane business announcements or lame humor in favor of conversation-starting tweets is another guideline to tweet by. The goal is not to create more Twitter-pollution but to output fun and engaging tweets that enhance our followers’/clients’ experiences. Lastly, when it comes to social media, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As it does take time, creativity and thoughtfulness, a social media marketing strategy might be best handled by somebody in your business who isn’t doing a billion other things.

And now it is your turn to answer Twitter questions: How has tweeting helped you? What do you think about the men vs. women on Twitter argument Mueller poses? And what’s the next big trend in tweet-vertising?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @brandsplatter and me @peachmahoney.

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