Roger, this one’s for you (I’m pouring out a little of my OJ/water mix as a sign of respect…).
If you are someone like me, who loves Twitter (or any other social platform), you may be shocked when you encounter someone who should be using these tools, who refuse to for various reasons. Maybe they:
- value their privacy
- are introverts in real life, and social media seems too open/chatty/loud/scary
- are overwhelmed with work, and figuring out the tools looks like a lot of work
- think the tools look stupid/goofy/unprofessional
I’m decided to start with Twitter because it is one of the fastest ways to get the latest industry information. This post is for folks who see this value, but are unsure how to participate. If you are someone tasked with getting experts/influencers online, I hope this can help you understand why folks may be reluctant to join, and maybe give you new ways to influence them.
If you are nervous about getting on Twitter, but have a social marketing type person begging you to get started, here’s some advice for you:
1. Put thought into creating your account.
If you seriously are worried about privacy, and you just want to use social for fast-breaking news, don’t use your name in your account, don’t attach it to your work email, and don’t say you work at XXX in your profile.
However, DO pick an appropriate name; geeky names are always good. If you end up liking twitter, or in case you get comfortable enough to interact with your customers, you don’t want a silly, sexist, inappropriate name.
Tip: I think it’s important to set your boundaries. If you *know* being social online for your company is just going to push you too far outside your comfort zone, let whoever is encouraging you know *just that*. I always appreciated it when people told me, “I have a Twitter account, but I don’t want to use it for work”. Those people usually were really good corporate bloggers, mostly because that’s where I concentrated my mentoring. 😉
2. There are many ways to follow conversations
Following others’ conversations on Twitter is one the best ways to get new information. People will post their experiences, share new blog posts, argue with corporate brands, ask each other questions… the content generated is truly amazing. Once you have an account, it’s easy to follow people.
You can google for tutorials, but Twitter changes the interface pretty often so the step-by-steps may not be out of date. As with any other product, check out the official support page. Also, please ignore the social media “experts” and their rules.Here’s the only rule you need: don’t tweet things that will get you in trouble with your company, your significant others, or your mom.
Tip: For those of you who are worried about privacy, when you follow people, they will probably notice you and follow you back. If you don’t want to be noticed by following people, you can still follow what they share by creating or following Twitter lists. Right now in the Twitter interface to view someone’s lists go to their profile page, then click lists, and then click subscribe. Some of my lists are visible on the left.
One thing to keep in mind: you can’t direct message (private message) anyone unless you follow them, and they follow you. If you need to communicate in private with anyone, just know you’ll need to follow them.
Another way to find information without following people is to follow hashtags. Every conference will have a hashtag, and sometimes goofy things have a hashtag (checkout #destroyedplates for example). This is something you can do from the Twitter client on your phone.
Here’s a real world example of why you may want to follow a hashtag: You know your biggest competitor is going to release a product at the next #bigconference. You follow the #bigconference hashtag, which gives you immediate access to the launch material (because the competitor will tweet it using that hashtag). Additionally, you’ll get to see other competitors’ reactions to the release, as well as the reaction from the customer community. Now you are armed with the information you need to do analysis on the competitor’s launch, and you can quickly update your sales teams and customers. You cannot get more real time than that!
3. You are participating, even if all you do is lurk
The social media “experts” will say that you need to post so many times a week or use certain hashtags in order to be active on social media. That simply is not true. Sociology has a rule for communities know as the participation inequality rule (your favorite social media “expert” may call it the 1% rule). Basically the rule states that in any community, 1% of the members will be hyper-active, 9% will be active sometimes, and 90% will lurk. A presentation I gave on the topic is on SlideShare.
Lurkers don’t add to the visible conversation on Twitter, but this doesn’t mean you are not part of the community. If you learn from the community, and incorporate those new ideas into how you manage your product, or into the presentations you give, you are sharing the norms of the community out into your adjacent communities. If you email things you pick up by lurking, and direct others to act on that content (such as sending a support person to care for a customer that needs help), you are bringing your adjacent community into the online community.
This invisible work is important to the community. It is just very frustrating to social media folk that need to report to upper management on publishing-based metrics (views, clicks, shares, share of voice, reach etc). That’s actually something I’m very interested in working on, finding a way to measure this invisible community participation.
I hope this short lesson on how to use Twitter without being super visible is helpful. If you have questions or comments – please let me know! 🙂