Let’s face it, when you first come across Twitter, it seems a little strange. It definitely is a more challenging social media platform to grasp than Facebook or LinkedIn, and even when you get a handle on it, the question becomes: What should you tweet? Originally, Twitter got a bad rap as a platform where people would tweet the most mundane things – what they had for breakfast, where they were headed at that moment, that sort of thing. And while that may have been true previously, it is far less true today, especially for businesses that use Twitter.
To help understand how to use Twitter, and what to tweet, visualize the platform as a river - a continuous stream of tweets, links, information and conversations floating by. As such, your job is to make your tweets so interesting and valuable that they stand out in the ever-swelling river.
That means the content you tweet has to be not just OK or good – but great. It has to bring value to others. It is content your customers, viewers, friends, fans and followers would find interesting and useful. It is content that is fun, funny, intriguing, quirky or fascinating. It is an article that would help people in their own business, or a video that they would find appealing or a free e-book. With your ongoing stream of useful information, your followers will find you to be a valuable and worthwhile online addition to their busy day.
Example: One of my favorite tweeters is Guy Kawasaki. Guy’s Twitter handle tweets fascinating stuff all day long (Guy admittedly does not tweet it all himself, but that is not the point.) I often check out his tweets because there is always something interesting there – either something to help my business grow or something that is just, well, different. Here are a few recent ones:
- 10 TV medical conditions that are rare in real life
- How iPhones are revolutionizing one restaurant company
- 10 surprising facts about Steve Jobs
- The world of photo sharing [infographic]
So that is the basic idea. You can stand out in the continuous flow of information on the River Twitter by tweeting things that other people will find valuable in some way. It could be an industry tip or a success story or whatever, but it has to be what I call “great content.” Great content gets you followed and builds your brand. Great content impresses people and gets them to want to know you better.
Where do you find all of this great content? Here are a few places:
- You: You can post interesting content on your blog or create videos and post on YouTube, etc.
- Websites: As you surf around the Net, you can tweet those articles and pages that you find interesting. Industry sites are especially good for keeping people up to date in your line of business
- Business sites: Sites like this one, or Business Insider, Smart Brief and USA TODAY Money all have great general business articles.
- StumbledUpon and Alltop: With StumbledUpon, you sign up and indicate your topics of interest. The site then helps you stumble upon new sites about those things. Alltop is Guy Kawasaki’s site and is an online version of a magazine rack covering 900 subjects.
But note: Posting articles and other interesting content is only one thing you can and should post on Twitter. The other main idea is to engage your audience, and to do that, you should do more than just post articles. Consider some of these ideas:
- Offer a freebie: Tweet the special of the day. People will sign up to follow you just to find out and get the daily deal.
- Have a contest: Re-tweeting is the 21st century version of word-of-mouth advertising. By re-tweeting others tweets, you spread the love.
One last tip: When tweeting, keep the 80-20 Rule in mind, only for Twitter modify it like this: 80% of your tweets should be for your followers direct benefit, and only 20% should be about you and promoting your business.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.