A three legged horse in a dog show

How to get your organisation started on Twitter

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Edition 1.0 / April 2009

Introduction
Twitter has hit the headlines and become the social media phenomena of the moment. From Barack Obama to Britney Spears, people are capitalising on its ability to publish messages to the masses in 140 characters or less. It only takes seconds to write and seconds to read. But what relevance does this new platform have for business and how are organisations cashing in on the opportunities?
Among many organisations Twitter seems to have an unjustified reputation as a service for socially inept teenagers. Yet properly used and effectively targeted, Twitter can add significant value. This paper looks at the benefits for business and how Twitter, and indeed other micro blogging services, can be used to better communicate and engage with stakeholders. It shows how businesses can get started in this space, what and how to communicate, as well as providing tips to help you get your messages seen by the right audiences and start building a following. And the title of the document? It was from the former, almost US Vice President Sarah Palin tweeted on 10 November 2008

About Twitter
Founded in California in 2006, Twitter is a micro blogging service which encourages users to post regular status updates and interesting facts or links using 140 characters or less. Micro blogging is in reality part blog and part social network and, be warned, very addictive. Twitter has leapt to prominence over the past 12 months as high profile individuals and organisations have adopted it in their marketing and communications strategies. President Obama’s innovative use of social media during the general election has been well documented http://tinyurl.com/d8flwl As at March 2009, the top 10 most followed Twitter accounts, many of which started less than a year ago, were: Followers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 @cnnbrk @britneyspears @barakobama @aplusk @twitter @jimmyfallon @therealshaq @nytimes @lancearmstrong 695,940 599,758 571,885 561,580 560,270 481,388 449,295 438,198 429,352 426,085 26 months ago 8 months ago 4 months ago 25 months ago 6 months ago Joined 27 months ago 6 months ago 25 months ago

http://twitter.com/sarahpalin

10 @theellenshow

This document is meant as an introductory guide only to an ever changing medium and will be updated on a regular basis.

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Why should my organisation get involved?
“I know, it’s totally silly and shallow, but that’s precisely why Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app.”
This quote is drawn from an article by Anita Hamilton published in TIME Magazine, 27 March 2008. It shows how far Twitter has come in a very short period of time. It was Twitpic that broke the news story of the plane crashing into the Hudson river to the world. A passenger on a ferry heading to help took a photo on his phone and posted it to Twitpic 15 minutes before any major news outlet broke the story. http://twitpic.com/135xa If a Twitter application can do this, what can it do for your organisation, and more importantly, what might the cost of not getting involved be? Many organisations will take the approach that they will wait and see how micro blogging develops before they get involved. These same organisations and individuals within them, said the same about social networking (in fact they may still be) and probably the web before that. The simple fact is that the speed of both adoption and change in this space is such that most organisations cannot afford to risk not getting involved. Moreover, it is acceptable to engage with this space now and make a few mistakes as you learn your way around, largely because most people are also learning their way around Twitter. This will not be the case in a year from now when people will not be so forgiving. And finally, and most directly, the chances are that engaging with Twitter is almost certain to add value to your organisation as a whole, even if that engagement does nothing more than bring your messages to a new audience. A UK based digital agency* has defined a useful list of ways through which Twitter can add value to an organisation, which we have reordered, adapted and explained a little differently:

1. Use Twitter to listen 2. Use Twitter to ask questions 3. Use Twitter to extend your contacts 4. Use Twitter to invigorate your existing contacts 5. Use Twitter to sell your IP 6. Use Twitter to sell your products or services 7. Use Twitter to help your customers do all of the above

* www.velocitypartners.co.uk

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Getting started
The basics Like many social media applications, Twitter takes a while to get used to. But it can be significantly enhanced by using some of the myriad tools and applications being built to improve the service. Twitter works by following the posts of people you are interested in hearing from. Other Twitter users will follow you for exactly the same reason. In simple terms then, if you have something interesting to say more people will be interested in hearing and sharing it. Your number of followers will increase, as will the size of the audience for your message. Many people use an application which allows them to automatically follow users who follow them. This is often combined with search tools to follow people who post tweets which include keywords they are keen to track. In order to help people find your Tweets, you need to extend your reach. Tagging your tweets for example makes them easier to find in search results and will feed them directly into other channels. Adding # as a prefix to any word in your post creates a keyword, which people can then search by. For example, #twitter or #australia. For more information on using hash tags see http://tinyurl.com/5tpocb In addition to posting information about or on behalf of your organisation, don’t be shy in retweeting other user’s tweets if you find them interesting. The logic being if they are of interest to you, they are likely to be to others as well. Add RT to the front of the tweet before you post it and credit the original source – that’s just polite after all. To find people, or organisations, that your organisation might be interested in following, try the search functionality within Twitter itself. Searching with @ in front of a word will search for a specific Twitter account. ‘space ?’ will look for questions. Answering other users questions and monitoring @replies (or other users replies to your posts) is a great way of engaging in dialogue and enhancing the value of your posts. Alternatively, use Google’s advanced search and limit the domain search to twitter.com. Finally, to make your Tweets easier to find, register your organisation with communities and directories for example @wefollow and specifically for business executive’s @exectweets Use the right tools There are numerous applications and tools being developed on a daily basis to help you and your organisation gain greater benefit from Twitter. Find your favourites and use them. TweetLater for example, allows your organisation to add posts en masse and then spread out there posting through Twitter to add to your productivity and reduce the time spent online. Alternatively, Tweetdeck allows a user to monitor their Twitter feeds from their desktop and sort numerous feeds into a system which simplifies the information received. To determine what may or may not be useful to your organisation review the available tools through a database application like www.twitdom.com which lists all known available applications and tools in the current Twitter ecosystem. Communicating in 140 characters or less Saying what you want to in just 140 characters is not always as easy as it sounds, particularly if you are trying to sell a specific message. That last sentence for example was exactly 140 characters long and didn’t say much. If your organisation spends too long constructing the perfect 140 character post, then you’re not approaching the medium correctly. Keep it real, make it timely and honest and you’re more likely to be in the right area. That said, a couple of simple tips can help make things easier: Try using TinyURL (www.tinyurl.com) a simple and free service which reduces long URL links to smaller lengths. It allows you to post links to your organisations products, services or IP without using too many of your 140 characters. For example, using TinyURL, the link: http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/web/twitterwins-wine-deals/2009/03/21/1237526391007.html Becomes simply: http://tinyurl.com/ckyoyc By using Tweetburner, you can shorten URLs creating Twurls, for example, http://twurl.nl/s8s0z1. Then use the Tweetburner application to review usage and click through rates from the URLs you post, see www.tweetburner.com A great way to measure the reach of your posts whilst getting shorter URLs into your Tweets.

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Your organisation’s brand voice
Firstly, do not consider micro blogging as separate from any other marketing communications activity. In fact, it has the potential to cement diverse channels rather than segment them. Approach micro blogging as you would any other channel and determine objectives, tactics and measurement criteria. Additionally don’t assume that one Twitter account is enough, your strategy might require your organisation having multiple accounts. Consider for example, Dell’s 34 Twitter accounts as diverse as @delloutlet which posts Twitter only discount offers to @dellshares, the corporate’s investor channel: Finally, if you’re organisation is going to engage with Twitter, accept that you will not be able to control the conversation, just participate. On a Boston Consulting Group matrix with an axis from controlled to uncontrolled bisected by monologue to dialogue, then Twitter, and indeed all micro blogging would appear as pictured:
Monitor
Controlled

Measure

Equally, you should follow in Dell’s footsteps and avoid only talking about your products and services. Daemon Digital recommends a concerted Defensive and Offensive strategy when using social media. Your organisation’s Twitter account is a microcosm of this approach. Offensive strategies focus on discussing core brand or product/service messages while defensive strategies concern the communication or discussion of proof points around your key brand substantiators. It is important to establish your brand in social media using defensive strategies before you start pushing sales messages offensively. You can find out more about this at www.daemondigital.com

On the other hand, controlling how your organisation’s corporate identity is represented on Twitter is very easy to achieve. The background to every Twitter account is entirely customisable and can be very easily uploaded as an image file. Some notable examples of interpreting an organisation’s corporate identity on Twitter include: • • • • • • • http://twitter.com/QFTravelInsider http://twitter.com/flyingdog http://twitter.com/earthhour http://twitter.com/waynesutton http://twitter.com/ChicagoDesign http://twitter.com/SouthwestAir http://twitter.com/DunkinDonuts

message activation

Monologue

Dialogue

Uncontrolled

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Proof activation

Monitoring and measurement
How you measure and monitor the impact of social media and/or Twitter to your business will depend upon your objectives. There are a number of techniques you can use and indeed applications are being developed to help you achieve that measurement. Some are simpler than others to use, for a dip test for example, check out http://twitter.com/grader which is a great first step. Some other metrics or attributes for you to consider include: Enterprise solutions Many organisations are conservative in nature and not keen to expose their messages to an uncontrolled audience with the ability to reply. Jumping straight into using Twitter can be a step too far for many. As an alternative route to engaging your organisation with micro blogging, enterprise solutions may help. They limit the access to a micro blogging account by your organisations email domain. In effect, these enterprise solutions, which are invite only, require a log in email domain to match that of the administrator, effectively creating a virtual private micro blog. Examples of this approach to micro blogging include Yammer (www.yammer.com) or Flokio (www.flokio.com) both of which have both enterprise and SaaS applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for micro blogging can be extremely useful and empowering for organisations that want to embrace micro blogging but require the added security of keeping the information inside the organisations firewall or WAN. In itself, the enterprise solution is also an extremely powerful internal communications tool as it relies on short, sharp and timely updates, not long winded company emails or newsletters which more often than not do not get read. The micro blog for example can be read and digested in a matter of seconds, making it much more likely to reach a busy workforce.

• The conversation index which is a ratio between posts and comments, plus trackbacks • Reach, which is more concerned with influence than numbers • Relevance or how you sift through social media to position your organisation • Favourability or the value of negative or positive content • Integration, effectively the simplest of all as it revolves around integrating your social and traditional media measurement tools

The important point is that regardless of how you measure your results make sure that you do measure them.

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How to integrate Twitter into your marketing strategy
The most effective way of integrating your social media strategy into your marketing strategy is to define your marketing objectives and then determine which of them social media can help achieve. Social media should not stand alone, nor is “we have a Facebook site” a social media strategy. Twitter as a social media application follows the same rules. Define what it can do for your organisation, set objectives, plan accordingly and then deploy. For most organisations, social media alone is unlikely to reach their business or marketing objectives, however, it is a powerful accelerant for most organisations if integrated effectively and managed efficiently. It is also critical to ensure that your organisation approaches Twitter, and the wider use of social media, from a marketing/communications standpoint and not as a technology solution. With all social media it is the content of the communications, the ability to start and engage in conversations that is important. Pretty pictures and a well designed platform isn’t sufficient for people to engage. Without an effective strategy for integrating its use into your marketing plan, Twitter is just an application. Determine your communications strategy based on your business objectives taking into account both offensive and defensive communications. Establish your brand in social media through defensive communication and provide the proof of what your brand stands for and how it behaves. Only then should you engage in offensive communication and start to push key sales messages.

Finally, consider Twitter in the context of our seven point plan for managing your organisation’s reputation in digital media, http://tinyurl.com/djj97b namely: 1. Find out where you stand; 2. Know your audience; 3. Trust your people; 4. Get involved and stay engaged; 5. Keep it real; 6. Get to the point; and 7. Measure what you are achieving.

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For more information on developing and implementing social media strategies for your business visit:

www.daemondigital.com or follow us @daemondigital

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