These tags are ways for people to label their tweets to give them some context, to help make them searchable, and to help make them trackable.
Context: Let’s say that you see a tweet that says: “I love Sumatra!” You might wonder if your friend has suddenly traveled to one of the largest islands in Indonesia. But if their tweet says: “I love Sumatra #starbucks #coffee” then the context of the tweet is much clearer. Your friend hasn’t journeyed to the other side of the world, they just happened to be in Starbucks around the corner. Now you can tweet with something like “Bring me a mocha latte” instead of “Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving the country?”
Okay, obviously that’s a silly example but it does illustrate my point: hashtags help to explain your tweet in a fast, efficient way. Since you only have 140 characters, why bother saying something excessive like “I’m at Starbucks drinking a Sumatra coffee and I really like it” when “I love Sumtra #starbucks #coffee” says exactly the same thing?
Searchable: As well, hashtags help to make your tweets searchable. By adding the “#” in front of keywords in your tweet (either inside a sentence or before or after the main content in your tweet) you can highlight the important words for Twitter Search (and other search apps). The truth is, search functions do look through all of the words in your tweet but the hashtag helps to make it clearer for people once the search pulls up the tweet.
Trackable: There are sites set up that watch specifically for hashtags and can provide a variety of metrics and additional information about that hashtag activity on Twitter.
So, this context + searchable + trackable feature of hashtags make them very much like labels or tags in your blog. They are a way to indicate the subject matter and help people to find what you are talking about.
The great thing about hashtags is that you can make them about anything you want. You’re not stuck with a pre-set list of hashtags that other people have decided. All you have to do is tweet and add the # in front of keywords.
So, a tweet like “Enjoying the weather in Orlando” can become something like “Enjoying the #weather in #orlando”. Or “having a coffee with a friend” can become something like “having a #coffee with a friend at #starbucks”.
So, how can you use hashtags?
These are the most common uses, but what about some of these less common uses that can help you build your business or your brand?
Next, you’ll want to register these hashtags at wthashtag.com. WTHashtag is a user-editable site (like a wiki) so registering your hashtag there doesn’t give you any specific rights over it, and others could come in and edit it. However, registering does help to “lock it in” so that it is defined and trackable. You can click to a hashtag at WTHashtag and see more information about it, see who tweets about that hashtag the most, and you can see usage trends.
Hashtags are useful tools to help other people understand you better and to help you brand yourself and search important information.
Bonus Tip: My Favorite Hash Tags
Here are some Hashtags I love to follow on Twitter:
#VATip: These are tips for Virtual Assistants and working with a Virtual Assistant.
#smbiz: These are tweets related to small businesses.
#smallbizchat: This is a chat that exists every Wednesday from 8-9pm EST relating to succeeding as your own boss.]]>
When a non-Twitter user asks me why I have embraced Twitter as a communication method, I’m quick to point out that I think there are two reasons Twitter is MORE than a communication method; that it’s an entirely new way of engagement.
To say that Twitter is just another communication method is to suggest that it is equivalent to writing a letter or writing an email or picking up the phone – as if Twitter might be a fourth alternative. But I disagree (and I’m not the only one who thinks this, by the way).
The two reasons that I’ve embraced Twitter are because:
In these newsletters, I’ve generally been focusing on how you can more successfully connect with people in a real time, person-to-person engagement.
But in this ninth TweetsIn10 post, I would like to talk about Twitter search.
Go to http://search.twitter.com and search for something. Anything. Whatever you want. Your city or town. Your favorite movie. Your favorite hobbies. Your industry. Your big-name competitors. The results you get from that search is real time… and not just a real-time dry repeating of the facts, but a real-time discussion of the facts with thought and context.
These results are what people are talking about right now. If there’s a big news story happening, it’s being tweeted about from a thousand different viewpoints. If there’s a major playoff game taking place, every good play and every bad call is being announced, discussed, and analyzed… as it is happening.
That is a transformational way of thinking about our connection through technology to the rest of the world.
But now, we get the information as it is happening. We see topics as they are trending. And, we see it through the unfiltered lens of the common person and not some news agency.
Now, just to clarify, I’m not against the news industry, they definitely have a role to play in delivering insight and in clarifying the facts. But the real-time aspect is huge. Sure, lots of people are quick to point out that this news isn’t necessarily accurate. On the other hand, I’d counter that content created through the traditional news industry may be more accurate but isn’t necessarily timely. There is some give and take and neither option is perfect. But I’d rather have a thousand different viewpoints of right-this-minute news – and rely on my own ability to discern which viewpoints are most likely to be trusted – than to wait until someone else reports the news later. That is very cool.
Lest you think I’m just ranting about the value of real time news, let me now talk about why this is important to you:
Real time connects you to your audience in a way that is unlike anything your business has ever experienced:
Twitter search should be a regular part of your business research and you should be consistently viewing trending topics in Twitter so you can react immediately.
Bonus Tip: Monitor Your Brand
Make sure that at the very least you monitor your brand or product via search. This assures that if anything is said negative or a customer or client needs help that you can respond right away using real-time search tools.]]>
If you want to tweet in only ten minutes, you can do so successfully and I’ve outlined ways to do that in my Tweets In 10 blog posts. It is possible, but sometimes it’s not practical, to limit your Twitter effort to a small ten minute window. For example, maybe you want to limit the amount of time you’re on Twitter but still want to speak to your audience throughout the day. Or, maybe you want to spend ten minutes on Twitter but don’t want to look like you’re ONLY spending ten minutes on Twitter. Or maybe you want to spend ten minutes on Twitter but you have an appointment the next day during the time that you would normally tweet. Or maybe you want to roll out a great new promotion at a very specific time. For these reasons, or for many other reasons, the ability to schedule your tweets is very helpful.
So, scheduling prewritten tweets for later publication is a good idea. It’s very convenient, it extends your engagement beyond the time when you’re sitting in front of your computer, and can still save you time (by batching all of your tweeting at once even if you’re scheduling it for publication later).
There are tools you can use to write tweets and schedule them for later but the tool I use and recommend for this is HootSuite. However, it’s not the only one out there. If scheduling tweets is important to you now (or you think it might be important to you in the future) make sure that whatever application you use gives you the ability to schedule tweets.
Scheduled tweet best practices
Bonus Tip: A Good Balance
I personally like to make sure I have a good mix of scheduled tweets versus live tweets versus auto tweets.
Things I auto tweet: Everytime I post a blog, using a WordPress PlugIn; Everytime an article of mine gets published on Ezine Articles, using their Twitter feature.
Things I schedule tweets for: I retweet my auto-tweets for about 12 hours after the initial tweet. This is the same tweet as the initial adding (RT) to it at the end. This assures my followers on opposite schedules each have a chance of reading my blogs. My product marketing tweets are scheduled as well, I do not market a specific product more than once a week, so for example, my Twitter Kit that you have purchased I will schedule one tweet a week promoting this. My #followfriday tweets can be scheduled and tweeted each Friday for my favorite tweeters.
Live Tweets: My day to day interaction with my follower base.]]>
In the last Tweets in 10 post, you read about Tweetdeck, which is an app that allows you to tweet and sort tweets from others on your desktop or on your mobile device. I wanted to talk about that one first because it set the stage for what I’m about to tell you in this article.
Today, I’m talking about HootSuite. HootSuite is a browser-based application that uses a similar “columns” approach to help users sort through tweets. Like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite gives you the power to sort your tweets into default parameters like “everyone” or “direct messages” or into customized parameters like specific people or search terms (referred to as “groups” and “search” in Tweetdeck). So, all of the ideas and sorting parameters I gave you in last week’s post (i.e. clients in one column, colleagues in another, competitors in a third) apply to Hootsuite.
And, like Tweetdeck, HootSuite gives you the ability to tweet from their interface rather than having to sign in to Twitter, there’s a HootSuite phone app, and you can manage other social media accounts, too. Very convenient.
But HootSuite gives you additional tools that, in my opinion, make HootSuite a superior application:
An important part of the value that Tweets in 10 offers you is the ability to maximize your Twitter engagement while minimizing your time and I believe that HootSuite is one of the top tools to do exactly that. Now, I’m giving a glowing review of HootSuite but I’ve also mentioned in the last issue that Tweetdeck is my primary Twitter interface. The reason for that is simply because I manage just one account and I want the ability to access Twitter without having to have a browser open. But I do like and use HootSuite for many of the reasons above.
You don’t have to choose one or the other to be a successful Twitter user. You can easily incorporate both Tweetdeck and HootSuite into your workflow. For example, you might want to use Tweetdeck exclusively for your tweeting and following but you might use HootSuite for scheduling your tweets and for tracking your tweets. That’s basically the workflow that I use. But if you want to use just one application instead of two, figure out what functionality you want and decide from there.
To gain access to HootSuite and its services, go to HootSuite and sign up. There’s nothing to download and you can get started right away.
In the next post, I’m going to talk more about prewriting tweets and why it might be a good idea for you.]]>
In a previous post I talked about Twitter plug-ins for your browser. They are handy for when you are online and want to share something that you’ve read. In this article, I want to tell you about an application that I use as my primary Twitter interface.
It’s called Tweetdeck and it’s a Twitter interface that sits on your desktop and enables you to tweet and view the tweets of people you’re following… without having to sign in to Twitter.
When a new Twitter user first starts out, they use Twitter through the Twitter.com site. At first it’s okay because there are only so many people they are following and their sporadic tweeting is done easily enough through there. But after following more and more people, they realize that they can’t read everyone’s tweets all the time and a sense of connectedness to their Twitter network begins to fade. That’s where Tweetdeck solves the problem.
Installation is simple, just go to Tweetdeck.com then go to the download page and click “Install”. When it downloads to your computer, you’ll need to install it just like any other program and then add your Twitter information in the account settings section.
Tweetdeck lets users tweet without having to go online and sign into Twitter. They simply tweet from the textbox on Tweetdeck and click “submit”. And that’s it! As well, Tweetdeck provides really convenient automatic URL-shortening. Just write in the regular URL and Tweetdeck will auto-shorten it for you.
And, it gives users the power of columns to sort and view tweets in a way that is convenient for them. Each column displays tweets (in real time) based on the parameters of the column. For example, you might create a column of everyone (which would update all of the tweets of all of the people you are following). You can also create columns that pull specific types of tweets, or, columns of tweets from specific Twitter users. These columns allow you to see at a glance a variety of tweets that are conveniently sorted.
The columns you can create in Tweetdeck are:
So, what does this mean for you? Simple: Rather than signing into Twitter and getting overwhelmed, you can create as many columns as you need, so that you can you can sort the people you’re following into far more manageable groups. Here are a few examples:
You might choose to use three default columns – one for everyone (“all friends”), one for mentions, and one for direct messages. And, you might want three customized group columns – one for clients, one colleagues and close friends, and one for competitors. And, you probably want to run a couple search columns – particularly for mentions of important keywords you’re paying attention to. When you invested in the TweetsIn10 MASTER KIT, you received a list of the top people to follow on Twitter, so that might be a good column to create in Tweetdeck, too.
Over time, you can refine these columns. You might find that your competitors aren’t worth following; maybe there’s another group of people you should be following instead. Or maybe you might find that there are additional keywords you need to add into your search column. (By the way, if you ever want to do some serious retweeting but are at a loss for what to say, consider keeping an ongoing search running of important keywords for your business and that will give you plenty of retweetable material).
Once you have all these columns, navigating between them is done simply by scrolling left and right with the scroll bar. If you have too many columns you might find it annoying (I generally have 7 or 8 but no more than that).
Tweetdeck was started to help users sort tweets for Twitter on their desktop, but Tweetdeck has even more value: You can also manage your Facebook and your MySpace account in Tweetdeck at the same time in a similar way. Just log in with your Facebook or MySpace username and password and you can post status updates. Tweetdeck also has an app you can download to your mobile device so you can tweet on the run in a familiar interface.
Watch for the next issue when I talk about a similar program that is web-based (instead of on your desktop) which gives other features you might find useful.
Bonus Tip: Make it Eye Appealing
If you are anything like me you have a favorite color. TweetDeck lets you customize how your application looks. I forget exactly how it comes, but I think in a drab gray. Once installed in the upper right hand corner click the little wrench icon, then go to the colors/fonts option – you can customize the colors of your program. I have mine in an awesome blue and fuchsia – definitely easier to look at and prettier too!]]>
In today’s post I’m going to talk about one Twitter-enhancing site that you may find useful. I’m going to talk about the site then I’m going to talk about how businesses can use it. (So, if you don’t think it’s useful just yet, read through to the end and you might change your mind)
Twitpic is a site that allows you to upload a picture and then post a link to it on Twitter. In a way, it’s no different than if you were to upload a picture onto your server and then tweet a status with the URL. It’s just that this is pretty convenient and some of the “legwork” is done for you. And you can do it with your mobile device.
To get started, simply go to Twitpic.com and sign in with your Twitter username and password. (You don’t need to create a separate username and password for this site). Just go to Twitpic and sign in. You’ll end up at your Twitpic page and once signed in you can go to the “upload photo” page to, well, upload your photo from your computer. You’ll also be able to add some text to your tweet. It’s insanely easy.
You can also tweet pictures from your phone by emailing the picture to a unique address (which is given on the upload photos page) and including your tweet in the subject line.
There. You’re done. Yes, it really was that easy, wasn’t it?
Now, to answer the question you have: “Why would I want to upload a photo?”
Here’s my answer: A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s like a hundred tweets or more! (#joke). By uploading a picture, you are creating another (multisensory) way to engage your audience.
Like many other social networks, Twitter is all about engagement and in today’s social web world, it’s important that you share professional aspects of yourself AND personal aspects of yourself. A bit of you – business and personal – is what people are looking for. They want a taste of your personality. When they engage with you, they will come to respect your opinion and listen to your tweets and they may eventually buy from you if you show that you are willing to share some of yourself with them. If you already let prospects and clients become your friend on Facebook then this won’t be that much of a stretch, but some of you like to keep a bit of a wall between your business and personal lives and this may be tough to figure out how to do it while still maintaining some privacy. But it can and should be done, and pictures can help you do that.
So, you may want to upload the occasional personal picture of yourself because it will make you more personable: Share a picture of your favorite cat. Share a picture of the car you are restoring. Share a picture of you and your mom on Mother’s Day. Share a picture of that huge fish you caught. I had my home-office renovated recently and I uploaded pictures to Twitpic to keep people up to date on the progress of that renovation.
You can also use Twitpic to upload pictures that can help to position you professionally. If you’ve had your photo taken with a famous industry leader, put it online! If you’ve been snapped giving a speech or accepting an award, that seems like a good thing to put online, too. Maybe you want to take pictures of the handicrafts you make and sell. Or maybe you want to upload a picture of the latest book you’ve just written. Maybe you offer every customer the opportunity to have their picture taken and posted with a link back to their website. Maybe you have images and graphics that you’ve created for your business that you periodically upload and share. Whatever. There are lots of opportunities here for businesses to post pictures that can help them grow.
When you upload your picture, be sure to use the tweet effectively to give the picture some context.
A picture says a lot and since you only have 140 characters to use, maybe a picture can say it more effectively.
Bonus Tip: Use Twitpic off Twitter Too!
I bet you did not know but Twitpic also let’s you use their images via embed. That’s right, you can use it as your own image hosting service. Just send your image to Twitpic, go to your picture on Twitpic and on the right hand side you will see a plus sign and ‘Put this photo on your website’, click that and it will give you an HTML code that you can use to re-publish/embed your photo in a blog or website!]]>
Okay, I realize that not all of you are WordPress users so this might not be as relevant for everyone. But many of you are so it was worth writing one newsletter dedicated just to WordPress users.
The reason for putting Twitter plug-ins into your WordPress site is the same reason you’d put some of last week’s tools into your blog or website: It saves time on your tweets and helps to strengthen those connections between your Twitter followers and your website visitors (encouraging connections of Twitter to also become regular blog readers, for example).
There are lots of WordPress plug-ins that use Twitter in some way. I’m going to show you the couple that I use but there might be others that work better for you.
The easiest way to get plug-ins is simply to sign in to WordPress and then to go to the Plug-ins menu from your dashboard. In this menu there’s an “Add New” link and when you click it you will see a cloud of plug-in tags. Buried within that cloud is “Twitter”. So click the “Twitter” tag and you’ll get the list of plug-ins related to Twitter. Scroll through this list (it is constantly updated so it might be worth checking it out regularly to see what kinds of apps people are developing).
I like the app called WordTwit. WordTwit is a powerful but simple way to turn your blog posts into tweets. With this app installed and operating, whenever you blog and click “publish”, your blog will turn into a tweet which includes the blog’s title and a link back to your blog.
What I like about this app is that you can adjust the settings in a number of different ways: You have shortcode choices that include bil.ly, ow.ly, and even shortcode based on your own domain name!
WordTwit also offers statistics so you can see what your most popular Tweets were, and there are codes that you can add for further analytics beyond the simple “most popular” number.
In addition, you can set it to only tweet certain tags (or to tweet everything BUT certain tags). For example, one colleague I know who uses his blog as his primary website, has his WordTwit set up so that only informational content is sent to Twitter but his portfolio and self promotional content (such as testimonials) aren’t tweeted.
This plug-in is about pushing content out to Twitter. But what about generating content on your site from Twitter?
You can use any of the plug-ins discussed in last week’s newsletter. Or you can use something like…
Lifestream is a little more advanced for users with coding experience. It creates an attractive way to display your tweets in posts, pages, or your blog’s sidebar. In the WordPress plug-ins page, search for “Lifestream” or check out the developer’s page here.
If you’re a WordPress user who wants something really easy and quick to use, refer to last week’s issue and embed one of those tools in your WordPress site.
Another way to integrate Twitter into your website is with CommentLuv. CommentLuv adds a content-rich and social component to your blogs. Users who type in your comments can add their Twitter accounts.
WP Quote Tweets
One I haven’t used yet but I’ve been thinking about using is WP Quote Tweets. This turns specific tweets into quotes on your site. You can see an example from the developer here.
Bonus Tip: Twitter and WordPress = BFF
I have only begun to touch the service of the million and one things you can do with Twitter and WordPress together. At the time of writing this newsletter WordPress has 552 plug ins that use Twitter in some fashion. Before deciding, check them out and see if one works better for you than another.
Image credit: http://www.chromaticsites.com/blog/wordpress-plugin-twitter-retweet/
Twitter is an exciting medium, not just because it provides a place to connect with others but also because it generates fresh, compelling content that can draw your audience back to your blog or website again and again. The whole TweetsIn10 concept is built around helping you save time on Twitter, but the same concept extends outward – I want to help you save time in other areas in your life, too, and Twitter can help you do that.
There are several ways that you can add Twitter content to your website or blog. I’m going to show you a couple of ways today, and these are appropriate for most platforms. In the next issue, I’m going to show you some WordPress-specific plug-ins you can use. If you run WordPress, you can use the tools I’m showing you today or the plug-ins you’ll read about in the next issue.
The first option you have is to go to http://twitter.com/goodies and then click “Widgets”. This page will be familiar to you from last week’s issue. You can choose widgets for your website, for Facebook, or for MySpace. (We covered the latter two last week).
Click the website link and you’ll have 4 widget options that you can embed on your website:
These are Twitter generated tools and they’re very good. But they’re not the only ones out there. You might want to look around for other widgets and tools that will do similar things but are provided by others.
I’ve also used Tweetizen in the past and have been quite happy with it. It works in a similar way: You simply create the parameters you want to have appear and then you’ll get the code that you can then embed in your website. I’ve used Tweetizen in the past to display tweets on specific topics for clients. For example, if a client wants to position themselves in the productivity coaching space, we might embed a Tweetizen display that searches for and posts tweets about “productivity”, “time management”, “procrastination”, etc.
Just go to Tweetizen and check out their really easy-to-use How-To page. You’ll notice that the Tweetizen tool can be used like a Search Widget or as a List Widget.
In all of these cases, you’ll get to outline the parameters of the tool (such as the tool’s size and appearance) and then you’ll get a code that you can embed. Just copy and paste this code into your site’s html and you’re ready to go!
If you’re comfortable working with code, the opportunities are even more powerful. That’s because your tweets are gathered into an RSS feed. To get this feed, just sign in to Twitter and find the RSS feed in the right-side column on your profile page. Any tool that allows you to publish RSS feeds to websites, blogs, or wherever, can be used to publish your tweets (via RSS).]]>