Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Why do you Tweet?

It occurred to me today that social media is a bit like football. The teams we support are the media we favour using and we can get quite ‘tribal’ about that (how often have you expressed disbelief that someone isn’t using the same channel as you?) And just like football, we can all behave like fantasy-league managers when it comes to discussing ‘team tactics’ ie how you should use your media of choice.

Take Twitter for instance. fatBuzz’s Gordon White and I both tweet but, as I found out during a natter following a recent New Media Breakfast, the ‘birth’ of our 140 character ramblings is very different.

Gordon’s belief is that your tweets should be entirely ad hoc and done at a time when you’re free to respond should anyone pick up on them. For example, when he tweets about an upcoming fatBuzz event and someone replies, “Looking forward to it,” he tweets a comment back there and then. For Gordon, Twitter is primarily about interaction.

For me, Twitter is more about keeping on people’s radars, with the odd bit of interaction leading from that, and using it as a channel to give people clues to who you are and what you have to offer ie your personal brand. So I approach my tweets differently (what can I say…doing things ‘my way’ is a theme of my brand!)

I’m a big fan of schedulers – in my case Hootsuite and Buffer – as they allow me to take part in the Twittersphere despite my mare of a diary meaning I’m seldom free to tweet when I need/want to. So I sit for half an hour on a Sunday and set up a mix of messages for the coming week – some sharing information from others, some sharing my own knowledge eg blogs and some giving a ‘shout out’ to other Tweeters I’m due to meet or who have retweeted me recently. Schedulers also allow me to consider the wording of my messages so they give people the right impression of my personal brand through my language and links – well, I’ve got to walk the talk, haven’t I?

I then add to those with other (infrequent) messages on the hoof, when I have time to reply, to get a bit more of that ‘in the moment’ banter Gordon rates (which I agree, is a real bonus of Twitter). A case in point was a question I posed the evening I was off to a football match, asking what people recommended I do to stay warm (I started the ball rolling with a suggestion that I just eat pies). I got a few replies - most of them sensible, though one wit told me having a fondue was the way to go - and I tweeted back, strengthening my online relationships with those people.

Unlike football though, there’s no offside rule to give guidance on the state of play; no-one decrees how you should use Twitter. It’s more important to have a clear idea what you want it to achieve and how you’ll go about doing that…and then do it your way.

So how do you use it?

About Me
I have presented at the Glasgow and Edinburgh New Media Breakfasts on the subject of personal branding. It's a pleasure to be guest blogging on the fatBuzz Blog, hopefully I can bring you some useful information in the future. Meantime, you can read more from me on my own Spark Branding blog here.

Alternatively you can contact me via Linked-In or Twitter at the links below or via Fiona MacDonald fiona@fatbuzz.com

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  1. Great post Jennifer and, thank you for sharing it with us, it really does highlight that people use Twitter in many different ways; none of them are right or wrong.

    My own position on scheduled Tweets perhaps needs a little clarification; I concede there are certain Tweets that could be scheduled, I simply choose not to because I’m not in the habit of scheduling. Our Tweets about the New Media Breakfast could easily be scheduled. Likewise, we automate a message to go to Twitter when we release a blog post and that could be interpreted as a form of scheduled tweeting however, these are not tweets I’m opposed to.

    In the last week, I have spoken to three people who have been caught out in the past because they scheduled tweets to thank people for a meeting that was later cancelled but they forgot to cancel the unscheduled tweet. I know of numerous similar instances that have left the authors embarrassed and exposed.

    Scheduling tweets that are reliant on, or in response to, an event that is yet to happen is ridiculous and frankly, pointless.

    As Jennifer says, people use Twitter in many different ways, I do use it to announce events and link to blog posts but, primarily I use it to genuinely thank people or, to let them know I’ve seen their content or, to be part of a conversation – in short, to create emotional attachments. I honest believe this is impossible to achieve with scheduled tweets – it needs to be spontaneous.

    If you absolutely must schedule a tweet, by all means go ahead and do so but, beware of scheduling a tweet that relies on something happening before it is due to go out because you will sooner or later be caught offside!

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    Interesting post, I like to be able to schedule tweets and drive traffic back to my business clients, this works really well for me and not often do I need to reply to tweets for clients as their phone rings instead, however on my personal brand business tweets I tend to do more tweets when I know I can/have time to reply.