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10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands

24 06 2009 – Michael Brito is a social media strategist and community builder at Intel. You can catch him writing in his social media blog, Twitter or Facebook at all hours of the day/night. These are his thoughts and opinions and do not reflect that of his employer.

image Having a Twitter profile doesn’t mean you’re a social media master, but it is a great tool for conversations, building community and finding the latest industry news. That’s why Hollywood is on Twitter, athletes are on Twitter, your competitors are on Twitter, and hopefully you are on Twitter too.

But for brands, there’s an art to using Twitter, and the most successful at it follow an unwritten set of rules. The following are 10 important practices for brands to follow on Twitter; these are lessons that I have learned while working in the enterprise.


1. Do your research before engaging customers


Know how your customers use Twitter. It takes only a minute to go to Twitter Search and find out if there are any conversations happening about your brand, product, service or industry. Know what your customers are saying about you.

If your search yields zero results, don’t worry: there may still be an opportunity for you and your brand to establish a presence and start a conversation on the service. However, Twitter may or may not be the right tool for you to engage your consumers.


2. Determine organizational goals


Not all brands utilize Twitter in the same way. Some, like @ComcastCares, use Twitter to provide customers with support. Other branded Twitter accounts, such as @DellOutlet, have utilized the service to sell products.

It’s important to think about what you are trying to achieve using Twitter before devoting your time and resources to it. You’re likely to get more out of it that way.


3. Utilize either a branded or personal profile


You have two options: you can either use a branded profile with your company’s logo, or you can opt to create a more personal profile that unites your own personal brand with that of the company.

If employees are using Twitter to primarily engage with people on behalf of the company, they should have a branded profile. A branded profile is one that clearly identifies the user as an employee of the company; usually through a username (i.e. @Intel_Eric, @synopsys_roy, @MelfromSymantec, @AMDOpteronPhil, @RichardatDELL to name a few) or has a branded background picture and bio.

amdopteronphil twitter image

Whichever option you choose, there has to be a level of balance. Branded profiles are great for certain things – for example, industry news, contests, investor relations, etc. Personal profiles are more beneficial if your organization wants to leverage the employee’s personal micro-community or wants to have a more human presence.


4. Build your Twitter equity and credibility


To be a successful brand on Twitter, you have to build credibility and equity. That doesn’t necessarily refer to the number of followers, tweets, or retweets you may have, although these are important factors. Rather, it’s more about developing a reputation as a trusted source of information or being seen as an expert in a particular subject.

You won’t succeed in building your Twitter equity by pushing out one way marketing messages about your product. Instead ask questions, be personal, and engage people naturally within the Twitter community. Otherwise, customers won’t listen to what you have to say.

I usually follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of my tweets are conversational and personal, 20 percent are about the company I work for. I’ve found that this has really helped build customer engagement and link click-through rates.


5. Track metrics and conversation trends


richardatdell twitter imageAny enterprise or medium sized business should invest in a paid tracking service like Radian6 or Nielsen to better track Twitter conversations, identify trends, measure sentiment, and to get a quantifiable picture of what is going on in the social web.

One metric you absolutely must track: how much money Twitter has saved your brand. How many issues did you solve, leads did you create, and dollars did you save through Twitter engagement versus traditional resources?

If your goal is to handle customer support issues via Twitter, it’s wise to check if there is any decrease in the call volume to your support center. And if you are selling products via Twitter (as Dell is doing), you should of course measure your sales via that channel.


6. Don’t go overboard; less structure is better


Your Twitter use can appear disingenuous and inhuman if you’re too structured with your approach, to the point where your community may be turned off. Treat your Twitter relationships the same way you would any other relationship. Honestly, how much planning or structure is needed before spending the evening out with friends?

Your Twitter experience will change and evolve over time, because the community that follows you will help shape what you say and how you respond. Remember to always use the 80/20 rule, but be flexible with your approach.

I’m not saying that you should let your employees run wild on Twitter, though. Planning, training, coordination and integration with social tools is imperative — just don’t go overboard and create a social media policy that is too restrictive.


7. Listen and observe before engaging


Don’t just start tweeting assuming that the Twitter community is going to accept you with open arms. It’s important that you spend some time just listening and observing the behavior of those who are talking about you or your company. Understand how your customers behave and adjust accordingly.

You don’t have to follow everyone that mentions your company to listen in on the conversation. In fact, this may irritate some people. Instead, when you’re ready to start answering questions, @reply them. In my experience, nine times out of ten, they’ll end up following you. Let the relationship grow from there.


8. Be authentic & believable


Authenticity is the golden rule in social media. We’ve known this for years, but there is another, related rule that is just as important: you and your brand need to be believable. This means spending time listening to your community, observing it, and learning about the dynamics of that community.

Your will become believable only after you have established trust among those in your community. Because I am trusted by my followers, if I tweet that my new netbook is amazing and fits my mobile lifestyle, people will believe me and perhaps even buy one (it is amazing, by the way).


9. Track, measure, and iterate


If there’s one thing that bugs me about working in the corporate environment, it’s the amount of time needed to execute. Sometimes it’s better just to launch a product or initiative, track it, measure the results and then iterate.

I learned this concept working at Yahoo for Mike Speiser, who was the VP of Community Products (and founded ePinions and Bix). This was his philosophy at Yahoo, and it worked, especially in the competitive landscape of social networks.

The great thing about the social web is that it’s not difficult to track the results of Twitter engagement, assuming you have determined what your organization’s goals are. It’s even easier to change course if you find that your efforts aren’t working according to plan.


10. Don’t just strategize: execute!


meeting imageMultiple daily conference calls are the norm in corporate America. Strategy sessions and meetings to plan strategy sessions are also constants. While this may be fine when planning a new product launch or corporate initiative, it is the wrong approach to using Twitter.

We spend too much time strategizing with little to no execution. When you have too many ideas and not enough people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get stuff done, you are going to find yourself late to the game. Or, in the case of Twitter, late to the conversation.

By spending too much time trying to think of the best strategy, you are going to miss priceless opportunities to fix problems, answer questions, turn sour situations around, and create brand affinity with customers. With Twitter your mantra should be: just get out there and try it.

Source: mashable.com

Internet & Democracy study of the Arabic blogosphere

19 06 2009 – In light of what’s happening in Iran at the moment, and the role of social media in connecting people, a new report on the Arabic blogosphere makes for interesting reading.

image While Iran isn’t an Arab country, its location and influence in an area of the world constantly in the news makes the report all the more interesting.

The report, by the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard University analyzed some 35,000 active Arabic language blogs in 18 different countries.

A BBC report nicely summarizes key aspects from the report; highlights that caught my attention include:

  • "We found that the Arabic blogosphere is organised primarily around countries," said John Kelly of Morningside Analytics, which did statistical and network analysis on the project, noting that Egypt formed the largest cluster on the Arabic blogging map. The study also singled out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria as having sizable blogging clusters.
  • "’Blogger,’"said Saad Ibrahim, a Harvard professor and well-known Egyptian dissident, "has become almost a revered term in Egypt. Groups that are otherwise completely disenfranchised, the only outlet for them is online." He noted that many Egyptian bloggers have paid dearly in recent years for voicing their opinions online. Bloggers have been imprisoned, and even tortured by the authorities. But that, Mr. Ibrahim said, has galvanized public opinion even more in the bloggers’ favour.
  • The report identified two large cross-national groups of what the authors call "bridge bloggers." One group is located in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and frequently blogs in English in addition to, or instead of, Arabic. Another group of bloggers in North Africa does much the same thing, only in French and Arabic.
  • The authors found that Arabic bloggers mostly focus on local politics and local issues, and that, perhaps surprisingly, "the United States is not a dominant political topic in Arabic blogs; neither are the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan."
  • The one political topic that did cut across all the various clusters in the Arabic blogging world, however, was the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular the situation in Gaza. Berkman’s Bruce Etling noted that the authors were also surprised "that there was no cluster around extremism or jihad." In fact, the report notes, "When discussing terrorism, Arab bloggers are overwhelmingly critical of violent extremists."
  • Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi who writes a popular blog called Raed in the Middle, noted that many Iraqis are not blogging at all because the infrastructure in the country remains so bad. And those that are online, Mr. Jarrar said, "tend to participate in private group websites or bulletin boards, not public blogs. And so it’s skewed. It’s all about how gets to have access, who speaks English, and who gets linked to by the Western media."
  • The reports authors, though, did not shy away from criticism. They noted that the study was only designed to analyze publicly accessible blogs, and that it should not be considered a survey of the entire Arabic-speaking world. "We have no idea whether, or to what degree, these attitudes reflect broader public opinion," said Mr Kelly of Morningstar Analytics. Berkman’s Bruce Etling said that the report was just a first step in understanding what’s going on online in the Arabic-speaking world.

Mapping The Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent by The Internet and Democracy Project at Harvard University. PDF download.

Arabic blogosphere begins to bloom, BBC News.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

Video: CNN’s Response to #CNNFail

17 06 2009 – On Monday, live on CNN, Rick Sanchez responded to criticism from social media sites that CNN failed to adequately cover the Iranian election situation.

The video has now risen to the top of YouTube’s mysterious “most popular” list (which, unlike the “most viewed” list, uses some hidden algorithm or editorial picks to decide what’s important). Sanchez’s response pieces together CNN’s reports from the weekend to convince critics that CNN’s coverage was more extensive than users on social media sites claimed.

Not all YouTube’s commenters seem convinced, however, with responses including “You cover affairs of politicians 24 hours non-stop and other pop culture nonesense [sic] and this past weekend, you were busy replaying stupid Larry King interviews” and “The CNN Iranian Election Coverage was a joke”. Many argue, however, that CNN International did a good job of covering the events in Iran.

What’s your take? Does CNN make good counterpoints to the social media criticism? Let us know in the comments.

Source: mashable.com

Video: How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History

17 06 2009 – TED, host to some of the most informative talks in technology, released a particularly timely talk today from new media expert and NYU professor Clay Shirky on “How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History”.

image While filmed in May, his points are brought into sharp focus by recent developments in Iran (see #iranelection), as social media tools prove their power to change the world.

Shirky explains: “Media is increasingly less just a source of information; it’s increasingly more a site of co-ordination, because groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something can now gather around and talk to each other as well…members of the former audience can now also be producers and not consumers.”

Source: mashable.com

5 Ways to Share Your Social Media Identity

16 06 2009 – One of the great things about the current web landscape is that the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs to create great new social media sites is very low. Open source, falling hardware and bandwidth costs, and social media itself (which can be used as a viral marketing vehicle), mean that enterprising developers can more easily than ever create amazing new services.

That’s great for consumers because it facilitates a lot of competition that leads to the best possible products. But it also means that most people end up using more than just a couple of social sites. We might use one site for sharing photos, another for sharing videos, and a couple more for sharing links.

The content we create on those sites makes up our social media identity, and as we use more sites, it becomes increasingly difficult to share it all from one place. Yesterday, I received an email from a friend whose signature had links to no less than eight social media profiles. Thankfully, there are better ways to share your social media identity. Below are five sites that offer social media badges you can share and embed.

1. Retaggr

retaggr

Retaggr is a really well put together utility that lets users create a social media profile card, which not only displays links to your other social profiles, but includes a bio, picture, and other vital information. Most impressively, though, profile cards are interactive. Retaggr profile cards have built in widgets that let you display some of your social media content – blog posts, recent photos, tweets, etc. – directly inside your card. That means that not only can the profile cards point people toward all the pieces of your social media identity, but in many cases people can actually view your social media content without having to navigate away from wherever you’ve embedded the card.

Retaggr supports a very large number of websites, is embeddable, and can generate image-based cards for email and forum signatures. The company also operates the Add Me Button, which is a utility that allows users to create a single button linking visitors to all of their social media profiles.


2. Geek Chart

geekchart

Geek Chart offers a unique spin on social media identity sharing. Rather than just make it easy to display links to your various social profiles, Geek Chart puts your social media use in perspective by letting you show exactly where you are most active. The site lets you create a clickable pie chart of your social media profiles that depicts your use of each site over the past 30 days — if you haven’t used a site in 30 days, the chart will not include that profile.

Geek Chart currently supports eight services, including Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Digg. It gets bonus points for allowing users to create a chart without signing up — though you can only embed the chart if you do. Users also get a profile page with a simple lifestream. Here’s one for US President Barack Obama, for example.


3. DuckDuckGo Karma

duckduckgo-karma

The Karma badge from alternative search engine DuckDuckGo is easily the most simple widget on this list. Essentially, Karma only displays social media links for sites that have some sort of ranking system, such as followers, points, or friends. It requires no sign up to create and works with 15 different sites.

DuckDuckGo also offers a Profiles widget, which supports a bunch more sites, but doesn’t display any ranking information. It’s just as easy to create, but perhaps a bit less interesting.

 


4. DandyID

dandyid

If you want a profile badge service that supports that obscure, niche social network you’re active on, then DandyID is likely for you. DandyID offers a profile management service that is perhaps most impressive for the sheer number of services it supports: over 300. Once you’ve added your services – a process made less daunting by DandyID’s clever use of the Google Social Graph API, which finds and suggests your profile links after you’ve added the first couple – the site can generate JavaScript or image-based embeds to share your social profile links more easily, and also gives each user its own profile page, similar to Retaggr.

For developers, DandyID offers an API that lets web site owners push and pull profile and identity graph information, which has led to interesting mashups like this Firefox extension, which can automatically look up social profiles for people as you browse the web.


5. FriendFeed

friendfeed

Of course, being a full featured lifestreaming service and social network in its own right, FriendFeed offers a lot more than just the ability to create and embed social profile information – but they do offer that service, so they deserve a place on this list.

FriendFeed supports 58 social media services, and their embeddable “FriendFeed Badge” widget lets you share links to your profiles on all of them, as well as your activity on FriendFeed (which as you can tell from the screenshot above probably isn’t as much as it should be in my case). One of the great things about FriendFeed’s widget is that you can fully customize the CSS to make it match the look and feel of wherever you plan to embed it. Rival lifestreaming service Profilatic offers a similar badge widget, as do many other lifestreaming services.

Source: mashable.com

HOW TO: Track Iran Election with Twitter and Social Media

15 06 2009 – On June 12th, Iran held its presidential elections between incumbent Ahmadinejad and rival Mousavi. The result, a landslide for Ahmadinejad, has led to violent riots across Iran, charges of voting fraud, and protests worldwide.

image How can you best keep up with what’s happening in real-time, and what web tools can help us make sense of the information available?

This guide breaks down the best new media sources for real-time information, photos, and videos of the Iran situation, as well as ways to organize and share it with others.


1. Track Iran-related hashtags and keywords on Twitter


Iran Twitter ImageTwitter is, far and away, the best social media tool for second-by-second information on what’s happening in Iran. People on-the-ground and across the globe are chatting about every breaking update, every news item, and every story they find. However, all this chatter can be overwhelming – here are some tips to help organize the noise:

Know your hashtags: The top hashtags and keywords being used by people talking about the Iran situation are #IranElection, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, and Tehran. Track these keywords first.

Twitter Search: You can go to the source and search Twitter for keywords.

Monitter: One of our favorite tools, Monitter goes a step beyond Twitter search and allows you to watch the Twitter conversation around keywords in real-time. Create multiple columns or even embed them with a widget. This makes it much easier to consume all the information at once.

Please note that while Twitter is the fastest source of breaking news, it’s also sometimes a source of misinformation, and has a poor signal-to-noise ratio.


2. YouTube is your ally


Everybody’s favorite social video site YouTube has been a central distribution medium for the Iran riots. Iranians have been posting videos nonstop of what’s happening on the ground. This really is the best way to see what’s happening without any filters.

Now, how to find the videos? We’ve picked out key YouTube accounts and search terms to track for the latest videos out of Iran:

Iran Riots

Associated Press YouTube Channel

Iran Protests (sorted by newest videos)

Irandoost09’s channel

Iran Election 2009 (sorted by newest videos)


3. Blogs moving faster than the news


While most news sources are now picking up on the Iran situation, the blogosphere has been far quicker with news and multimedia from Iran. Thus, your best bet for organizing all of this blog chatter is via Google Blog Search. Compliment this with Google News and you’ll have a fuller picture of the situation on the ground. Google’s algorithms have already pushed Iran election stories to the top of the pile, but you can dig deeper with specific searches for the Iran Riots, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.

Extra Note: One blog stands out for its Iran coverage: Revolutionary Road has been bringing constant updates on the Iran Riots from the front lines. We rely on citizens like these to get us news from the ground.


4. Flickr images really tell the story


Iran Riots

Image Credit: TheStyx via Flickr

The social media photo site Flickr is brimming with some eye-popping and gut-wrenching imagery from the ground. Beatings, protests, military photos from the election…it’s all there, in full color.

Once again, search terms like Iran Elections and Iran Riots 2009 will help you pinpoint the most relevant images.


5. Final notes


Social media comes fast, and because of that, the information can be overwhelming. Use filters and tools to help you understand what’s happening in real-time. If you’re looking for background on the situation, get yourself up-to-speed using Wikipedia(Iranian presidential elections 2009 and 2009 Iranian election protests are being constantly updated).

Finally, if you want to help bring awareness to the situation, then share! Share the videos you find via Twitter, blog about the situation, email your friends: everybody can play a part in this new media ecosystem.

Source: mashable.com

The Key To Developing A Social Media Strategy

15 06 2009 – Social media is starting to take hold with brands, companies and organizations everywhere. While there are still stragglers, and it is probably incorrect to say most companies are getting with the program, a good number of them are.

What we’re seeing in these organizations is a maturation process. Brands are done testing the waters, playing with the tools and saying, “We Gotta Facebook Page!” like it’s the corporate equivalent of an iPhone or Kindle. Companies are now approaching social media with communications strategies in mind — How can we effectively use these social tools to reach our audiences?

But therein lies the next challenge for those responsible for the social media planning for organizations. Regardless of the pedigree – public relations, corporate communications, marketing, customer service, research, etc. – today’s social media task masters are probably still operating from the traditional corporate mindset or training. First, you define your audience and your goals and objectives. Then you develop talking points to convince that audience to complete the action that fulfills the goals or objectives. Then you measure, report; rinse, repeat.

The problem is that social media is an environment that scoffs at the traditional. Talking points are about as useful in a social media campaign as a nail gun in a balloon store. You’re just gonna piss everybody off.

Corporate messaging — talking points — are precisely why people have turned to online communities and social networks for information about products and services. Social media exists to provide trusted, third party information to consumers looking for something other than a sales pitch. Thus, diving into a social media effort with your talking points in tow is a great strategy if you’re hoping to fail.

The key to developing a social media strategy is not talking points, but parameters of conversation.

Which conversation can you find a way into?

To develop your parameters of conversation for your social media efforts, answer these questions:

  • What types of people do we want to talk to?
  • Where do we find them?
  • What are they talking about already?
  • Is it appropriate for us to join that conversation and, if so, when?
  • How do we inject usefulness into the conversation without being overly promotional?
  • What value can we provide in terms of knowledge, opinion or content?
  • How can we earn their trust?
  • When we do earn their trust, how can we best ask for their input into our product or service?
  • Under what circumstances can we point the conversation toward considering our product?
  • Can we say or do something that invites someone else to point the conversation toward considering our product?
  • How shall we apologize and regroup if we overstep their comfort level or accuse us of violating their trust?

Many of the answers cannot be had until to assimilate into the communities and conversations. But thinking of these situations ahead of time is no different than anticipating the hard questions from reporters before a press conference. Prepare yourself with answers, then read and react. It’s not the soup-to-nuts of a social media strategy, but the answers to these questions are at the core of successful ones.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

Report: Social networking up 83 percent for U.S.

03 06 2009 – The explosion in social networking may be even greater than imagined. The time that people in the U.S. spend on social network sites is up 83 percent from a year ago, according to a report from market researcher Nielsen Online.

Facebook enjoys the top spot among social networks, with people having spent a total of 13.9 billion minutes on the service in April of this year, 700 percent more than in April 2008, Nielsen said. Minutes spent on Twitter soared a whopping 3,712 percent to almost 300 million, versus around 7.8 million from the same month a year ago.

Former top dog MySpace watched its usage drop nearly one-third to around 4.9 billion minutes, from 7.2 billion in April 2008. MySpace still scored the number one spot for online video among the top 10, thanks to its users streaming more than 120 million videos from the site for April of this year.

Top Social Networking Sites

"We have seen some major growth in Facebook during the past year, and a subsequent decline in MySpace," Jon Gibs, Nielsen’s vice president for online media and agency insights, said in a statement. "Twitter has come on the scene in an explosive way perhaps changing the outlook for the entire space."

But the report also offered a cautionary note: the social networking user can be fickle, quickly bouncing from one service to another. "Remember Friendster? Remember when MySpace was an unbeatable force? Neither Facebook nor Twitter are immune," said Gibs. "Consumers have shown that they are willing to pick up their networks and move them to another platform, seemingly at a moment’s notice."

Despite its growth and popularity, Twitter may be especially vulnerable to users who don’t stick around. Another Nielsen report from April found that 60 percent of Twitter users–dubbed Twitter Quitters by the media–abandon their tweets after only one month of use. Only about 30 percent of users on MySpace and Facebook jump ship.

Nielsen Online, part of the Nielsen Company, measures consumer use of online and mobile services and other related media.

Source: cnet.com

Video: The cat with more than 500,000 Twitter followers

image 18 05 2009 – Rudy the Parrot hates him. Last week, Rudy tweeted: "They can try but they will never get to me. Birds live twice as long as cats, sometimes longer. @Sockington will perish."

I am sure that is true. However, whereas in January Sockington had 10,000 Twitter followers, now there are more than 500,000. Rudy is stuck on 1,573.

Sockington is, as you have probably guessed, a cat. One extremely popular cat.

He is the cat that belongs to Jason Scott, a man with remarkable sideburns who is the brains behind, amongst other things, Textfiles.com. Sockington’s home is Waltham, Mass., and from it he tweets about everything that is important to him. Kibble, for example. And, um, pillows.

Here is a sample Sockington tweet: "stalk stalk stalk AND WHAT HAVE WE HERE deadly pillow enemy BANZAIIIIIIIII CRASH oh no busted PILLOW ATTACKED FIRST run run run."

Sockington is very conscious of the large following he has built, but he is loyal to his own: "AGAIN I REMIND SOCKS ARMY am only following animal twitters BUT REST OF ARMY IS VERY AWESOME and I am rubbing against your legs now."

Sockington has had music written about him. And when someone told him he had already jumped the shark, Sockington replied, according to Mr. Scott in the video I have embedded for your permanent enjoyment and solace: "Awesome. I’m gonna eat that sucker for weeks."

It is foggy in the Bay Area today. And if your life is a little foggy too, surely Sockington’s success can give you hope that anything, truly anything is possible in this odd little world.

Source: CNet

Social media – the end of human communication?

11 05 2009 – Recently I had a talk with a wonderful lady who has been a successful marketer for many years. She was lamenting all the commotion with Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, LinkedIn and social networking today. She commented that she likes to connect by talking with people on the phone  – "real communication" is what she called it.

I understand where she’s coming from and have to agree — partly. Technology can never take the place of true human-to-human communication. I love sitting with friends over a meal, over drinks and sharing about life, business, fun, ideas, concepts and more. "Visiting" is what it is called in the South. "Hanging with your buds" is another way to refer to it.

Relationship Marketing (I like to capitalize those important words!) is the most important activity we can do in business. Connecting with other people is vital. One way to do it is with live, face-to-face meetings. That was the primary way people connected centuries ago. Somewhere around the end of the 1800’s they came up with a new-fangled communication tool called the telephone. I’m sure there were people who said, "Well, if I want to talk with someone I’ll walk or take my horse over to see them. I want a real connection." They didn’t trust the new-to-them technology of a telephone.

I saw the same thing with email as it emerged a few years ago. Today we have so much of it that we crave short messages. I somehow think Twitter’s 140-character limit is an answer to that.

So, when we see Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking services emerge, does it mean the demise of real human connections?

Not on your life!

Relationship Marketing is about being close to prospects, customers and important stakeholders in business. It is about providing value to the other person. If your Twitter message is nothing more than "I’m getting groceries now," — shame be upon you! You deserve to be ignored. Instead, pass along information that can be helpful to at least some of your followers. That’s where Twitter really shines.

All of these social networking services are about connecting with people. My friend who lamented these services and wanted to only connect through telephone is limiting the amount of contact, and hence the amount of business she can generate. I view communication as a wide range of options. A quick YouTube video which your perspective clients view connects at a basic level. A one-to-one luncheon with someone is a much deeper level of connection. However, you can’t have a 3-hour lunch with everyone, everyday otherwise you’d never get any work done!

And you can’t Tweet all day (that’s the term for those who send messages on Twitter) and expect to get work done. Yes, you can generate business but even self-appointed Twitter gurus I’ve heard speak have to stop sending their Tweets to speak about it!

By the way, I recently discovered a new tool called TweetCall (www.TweetCall.com) that allows you to leave a Tweet via your phone. Once you’ve registered (for free) you dial a toll-free number and leave a message up to 140 character (about 20 words). This can be great to leave quick messages even faster. I’ve used it for about a week and have been very impressed. Try it! To see a video of this bounce over to http://www.TerryBrock.com and check it out.

So, what’s the key for a dedicated, serious-minded Relationship Marketer to do? Well, I am not a "Twitter guru" (I’ll leave that ominous title to others) but I do know a thing or two about Relationship Marketing. Use these tools in moderation to help others. Don’t just toot your own horn but find ways to provide value for them.

Examples would be a quick message with a link to a great video that is of interest to your recipients. Send out a notice with a helpful idea. Then be sure to "Re-Tweet" a message to others. This is the Twitter way of forwarding a message to others and patting someone on the back (digitally, of course!).

It always goes back to helping others and caring for them in a genuine way. I was just on the phone with a long-time friend and trusted colleague who told me about a particular person. She told me how this person simply tried to sell her his services and didn’t really care about helping her. I found similar reactions as this same guy tried to sell me his stuff. I don’t care if he is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or comes over and knocks on my door — my opinion of him is diminished because of his actions towards me and my friend.

Bottom line? Commit to being a Relationship Marketer with genuine care to solve the other person’s problems. Next, learn the nuts, bolts and wiggle pins of new technologies that make sense for you. Don’t get frazzled. No, these Social Media tools are not the demise of real human connections.

Used properly, they can help us strengthen and grow genuine, real relationships for profit and mutual benefit in business.

Source: Portland Business Journal