5 Questions to Consider Before You Get on Twitter

5 Questions to Consider Before You Get on Twitter

AND we're back! There was quite a long lay-off of content here on the blog for a while. Apologies all around. We've been quite busy (you should be seeing quite a few updates with completed projects in this space soon), and we're re-thinking our approach to the blog a little bit. We're still squeezing the juice from our mind grapes about the format of the blog (who doesn't love a 30 Rock reference?), but essentially you'll be seeing more regular posts from us on practical subjects that we seem to get a lot of questions about. Of course, if you have something you'd like us to talk about – leave a comment! We'll be happy to.

Today's topic might be an eye-roller for some of you. Trust me, if you're a long-time Twitterphile, today's advice will probably be old-hat. However, we get a surprising number of clients ask us about what they should be doing on Twitter (or with social media in general), so Megan Denney and I put together a simple list of questions to consider before jumping in feet-first on Twitter. Any thoughts or comments? Did we miss something? Let us know!

1. What are your competitors doing on Twitter?

You don't have to spend a lot of time poring over your competition's every tweet and reply, but you should try to get a sense of the voices that are already out in the Twitterverse. Looking at your competition can give you good pointers on topics you could be talking about, or you might see a gap where your expertise in the market hasn't really been adequately communicated.

You might be in a market where very few of your competitors are on Twitter, and you might wonder (rightly!) if you should even be using Twitter. Take plumbers for example. It's pretty weird to tell a plumber he or she should be on Twitter. The inevitable "what am I going to tweet about?" question comes up (see #3 below). It's a totally legitimate question to ask. You'll just have to keep reading to find the answer...

2. Who's the Chief Twit (Twitterer? Tweeter?)

We struggled with the nomenclature for the person primarily responsible for tweeting. Regardless of the title, you should consider who that person will be. One of the most common things I hear is "we've got a group of folks who are going to tweet whenever they have time." WRONG. You know who ends up tweeting in that scenario? No one. Tweeting is not a highly time-consuming activity, but it does require folks to go outside of their normal workflow. By all means, let as many folks tweet from your account as you'd like, but be sure you have someone who is responsible for the day-to-day content. You're much more likely to produce consistent, personality-laden content when you have someone who has taken over the role of Chief Twit.

3. What will you tweet about?

The answer is different for everyone when considering this question, but the point is that you better have a gameplan for how you are going to interact with your followers. You might tweet about your daily specials. You might tweet about products you're producing. Whatever it is that you'll primarily be talking about, take the time to think it out beforehand. You don't have to plan every tweet, but you should have a general idea of some of the things you can say from one day to the next.

This is where we pick back up with our plumber. He has no idea what he should tweet about. Here's what I might suggest – take pictures... lots of gross clogged-drain, flooded basement, burst-pipe pictures. "You'll never believe what I just found in this drain! [Picture]" That's the kind of content that gets responses from followers (especially if he follows the tweet up with an immaculately clean "after" shot). Sure, it's not for everyone, but he'll get retweeted and recommended by the folks that do follow him. People on Twitter tend to love personality and humor. Keep that in mind.

4. Can you commit to tweeting at least once a day?

This is a question where you just have to be honest with yourself. Can you commit to tweeting on a regular basis? There's nothing magical about the once a day number. In fact, I would say it's the bare minimum – you'll hopefully be tweeting more regularly than once a day. Tweeting isn't hard to do, but it can be hard to make yourself take the time to do it. If you are over-committed in other areas of work and won't be able to pay attention, why add needless stress? Yes, you could probably benefit from being on Twitter, but it's better to just leave it alone for a while than sully your brand with half-hearted efforts at maintaining your presence on Twitter.

5. What is your plan for responding to tweets?

This is the bottom line of any social media – it's meant to be social. You can use social media as your sandwich board, but it's so much more than that. If you are posting interesting content, you'll inevitably begin to acquire followers (don't be stressed if this starts off as a trickle rather than a flood). Once you get a critical mass of followers, you're likely to have folks who want to start conversations with you. They have questions or ideas. Will you respond? Twitter is now equipped with email notifications, so you don't have any excuse for not seeing conversations as they happen. Be ready for it! I try to make a habit of responding as quickly as possible on Twitter (usually 15 minutes or less). Engage with your audience! It's the ultimate goal of social media and is the fastest way to build up your brand in the eyes of your followers.

Posted by Matt Roberts at 8:00 AM