4 Twitter Tips for Businesses and Organizations

By Sabrina McGowan

The explosion, variety and evolving nature of social media has created both PR opportunities and challenges for businesses and organizations. In an October 1 Independent Public Relations Alliance program, Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies, offered her suggestions for leveraging Twitter to create greater interaction between you and your followers, and to increase your numbers.

Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies

Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies

  1. Define your audience. Customers, members, business partners and vendors are just a few of the people you should be following on Twitter. Professional and industry organizations as well as local businesses will likely produce additional followers for you, too. Don’t forget to follow your competitors for insight on how they’re engaging with your ideal customers.
  1. Build a content strategy. If you want to know what type of content you should share on Twitter, follow other accounts and decide what you like about them. You can also monitor conversations by using the “search” function to find examples of content you like. It’s important that you find the sweet spot between what your target audience wants to hear and what you want to say that promotes your business. So add value through your tweets and give people a reason to follow you. Lisa suggests following the 80/20 rule for your content strategy – 80% follower interaction (retweets, favorites, replies) and 20% offers. Creating a calendar will help you stay on task.
  1. Expand your reach. To get more interaction with your tweets, you need to be visual and creative. Your tweets should encourage immediate action from your followers, so include offers and calls to action. And don’t hesitate to ask for replies. You can increase your followers by putting your Twitter handle everywhere – be sure to add a follow button to your website and email signature, and ask your existing customers to follow you, too.
  1. Use Twitter ads effectively. Did you know that the click-through rate on Twitter is higher than Facebook – 3.6% vs. 0.4%? Twitter ads can be a great tool to increase followers and engagement as well as drive more traffic to your website. According to Lisa, Twitter ads are also great for lead generation. For example, you can grow your list via an ad that asks followers to enter their email address to receive a coupon or other offer. Keep in mind that Twitter ads can be pricey and that the most effective ads use photos and brief videos (under 30 seconds).

The key to Twitter is conversation, so use it to communicate with your followers, and let your personality shine. By focusing on how your products and services benefit your customers, you can help ensure your Twitter success.

Sabrina McGowan is the owner of SQM Communications, bringing creativity and integration to the communications efforts of non-profits, trade associations and forward-thinking businesses. Sabrina is also the marketing chair of the Independent Public Relations Alliance. You can follow her on Twitter at @sabrinaqmcgowan.

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Will you be the next PRSA-NCC Social Media Rock Star?

Trophy Winner

Did you know that 20 percent of our day is spent on social networks? I admit that first thing in the morning, I’m checking Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. We want to see, as well as share content, stories, tweets and advice through our various social networks.

What better way to celebrate our time using social media than to recognize public relations professionals that help share content for the National Capital Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NCC). PRSA-NCC’s Marketing Committee is starting a new program to acknowledge members who help promote and share information about our events. The committee will monitor Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and each month we will announce the PRSA-NCC Social Media Rock Star.

PRSA-NCC understands the value of social media. It has helped raise the visibility for our events. For example, this year we used various social networks to promote Social Media Week in DC. PRSA’s event had one of the highest attended professional development events in our recent history, with 50 percent of the audience being non-members.

Here are some statistics about how much we have grown since 2011:

• Facebook = 350/593 (June 2013)
• Twitter = 1,000/2,066 (June 2013)
• LinkedIn = 350/1,104 (June 2013)
• YouTube = 1,284/13,000 views (April 2013)

Social media is a powerful tool for PRSA-NCC as well as our members and their clients. Are you going to be our next Social Media Rock Star?

To participate, PRSA-NCC members should use the hashtag #PRSANCC or re-share material on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you aren’t following PRSA-NCC yet, here are our different social media handles and links:

Twitter: @PRSA_NCC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/30633095702/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/PRSANCC-Public-Relations-Society-Americas-828017/

We want to raise the visibility of our active members who help us promote our different events, but board members and committee chairs will are not eligible for the award. At the end of the year, the Marketing Committee will recognize all the winners during its annual holiday party.

So, start sharing content today, including my blog!! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

5 Ways to Transform Your Blog Post Into Endless Tweets

Click the presentation above to view the 41 examples below that form the heart of this post. 

You just finished a killer blog post. Reliving the process: first you had to pitch the idea to your editor. Then you reworked the angle to satisfy his feedback. Then it was research time, wherein you bumped up against facts that challenged your hypothesis. Finally, you penned the piece, sweating over decisions as light as commas, as lofty as conclusions.

Now, the post has been published. And you, like a wide-eyed kitten mesmerized by a shiny new object, sit in thrall to the whimsies of the web—watching, waiting, wishing for the big payoff.

Slowly, the clicks come trickling in. But why settle for a trickle when these numbers could be a raging torrent? As soon as your article goes live, it behooves you to SHOUT IT from the rafters. You labored so long and hard on the writing, shouldn’t you reward your efforts with a little promotion?

Indeed you should. In fact, every hack must now be his own flack.

Contrary to custom, a blogger’s job doesn’t end once you click “publish.” Far from it. In this Age of Big Data, where every blog, vlog, and broadcast lives and dies by metrics, your success depends on your page views. (At least if you’re writing for Forbes, Gawker, or Business Insider; if your pub is Mashable, the Times, or New York, you’re ranked on the number of times your story is shared, emailed, or commented on, respectively. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.)

And when eyeballs count, Twitter is your best friend. Quicker than placing a phone call, easier than drafting an email, and more trackable than Linking In, tweeting facilitates the Holy Grail of PR: one-on-one outreach en masse.

To wit: Twitter lets you repackage and repurpose your content. This is crucial: you can’t just tweet once, kitten, and expect to snag that ball of string. You must tweet and tweet again, baiting your tweet with various angles and hooks, casting it to segmented audiences.

Equally crucial: instead of publishing your tweets all at once, you need to unloose them over the next few days. (Since the first 24 hours are the most important, it’s best to frontload your tweets for the day of publication, then dribble the rest out over the next day or two.)

This is the playbook I followed for a post I wrote last year for Mashable, which has been shared more than 3,100 times. Here’s how you can achieve similar results for your next piece:

1. Tweet Summaries, Excerpts, and Teasers

Every digital native knows how to tweet the obvious “Check out my new post.” But when the half-life of a tweet is less than three hours, you must keep pushing. Like a politico on the campaign trail, you must say the same thing over and over, drawing on different words for different audiences.

To this end, go beyond the headline and review your text line by line. Identify the juiciest parts, then carve each one into 140 characters of catnip. If your post is meaty, you’ll be able to extract a plethora of summaries, excerpts, and teasers (facts and stats are invariably appetite-whetting). Here are the tweets I crafted to promote my post:

  1. My new post for @Mashable: How to Optimize Your Headlines for Google and Humans – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. Done right, a #headline will stop a mouse-moving, page-scrolling, attention-deprived user in his pixels – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  3. In addition to writing for eternity, or for one’s mother, today’s writer must also write for Google – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  4. With this foundation, you’ll be able to pull off one of the web’s hardest acts: you’ll be able to make Google laugh – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  5. New Blog Post: How to Make Google Laugh: SEO Your Headlines – http://j.mp/K9HGOK
  6. RT @Mashable: How to Optimize Your #Headlines for Google and Humans – http://j.mp/Jes1ZZ #SEO
  7. Algorithms don’t appreciate wit, irony, humor, or style – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  8. The secret of stellar #SEO is that you can have your cake and eat it, too – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  9. Why bother with a meta description? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  10. Google, SEO and Writing a Great Headline – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  11. How the Mainstream Media Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Google – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  12. 3 Ways to Make Your Headlines Catnip for Search Engines – http://j.mp/JWfPAv #SEO

2. Send Shout-Outs (aka Kiss-Ups)

No doubt, you quoted, mentioned, or linked to others in your post. Be sure to recognize them. Play on their vanity—flattery will get you everywhere. Your unspoken goal: get them to share your post with their network. Here are the shout-outs I circulated:

  1. @DeadlineDiaries Your post, “Google Doesn’t Laugh,” inspired me to write this for @Mashable – http://j.mp/K9HGOK
  2. @SteveLohr Remember when you wrote, “This Boring Headline Is Written for Google”? At @Mashable, I offer a solution – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  3. @yoast Today on @Mashable, I link to and praise your WordPress plug-in for SEO – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  4. @SEOmoz @RandFish In a just-published post for Mashable, I quote heavily from your guidance on meta descriptions – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  5. @GeneWeingarten Remember “Gene Weingarten Column Mentions Lady Gaga”? In fact, you can have your cake and eat it too – http://j.mp/JWfPAv

3. Give Thanks

If anyone helped you along the way, remember what your mother taught you: thank them. Here are my acknowledgments:

  1. @PardonMyFrench Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. @lyontef Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  3. @ChuckDefeo Thanks for helping me take this from an idea in an email to a 1,000-word post for @Mashable – http://j.mp/JWfPAv

4. Push FYIs

Certainly, you can think of people whom your post will interest. Instead of guessing their email address, find their Twitter handle, which is publicly available even if their tweets are private, and tweet them your link.

The caveat: Be careful not to be seen as self-serving. Instead, ask for feedback, or tie your tweet to a subject near and dear to your acquaintance’s heart. Feel free to adapt the headline of your post as needed. Here are the FYI tweets I sent forth:

To the Media

  1. @JackShafer Some news organizations are optimizing their headlines for Google. Others are not. Curious? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. @HowardKurtz This may interest you: How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  3. @poynter @abeaujon @juliemmoos Here’s an easy way that editors of news websites can SEO their headlines – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  4. @NiemanLab Which news organizations are optimizing their headlines for Google? The results may surprise you – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  5. @zseward If you have a few minutes, I’d love your thoughts on this: How News Outlets Are SEO-ing Their Headlines – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  6. @JeremyStahl @KGeee This may interest you: How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  7. @AntDeRosa Any thoughts on this? How News Outlets Are Optimizing Their Headlines for Both Google and Humans – http://on.mash.to/JdigwG
  8. @nxthompson Over at @Mashable, I offer some ideas on how the @NewYorker can better SEO its headlines – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  9. @lheron Over at @Mashable, I offer some ideas on how @WSJ and @NYTimes can better SEO their headlines. Whaddya think? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  10. @pilhofer @sashak @lexinyt Over at @Mashable, I laud the @NYTimes’s SEO strategy – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  11. @rajunarisetti Over at @Mashable, I commend the @WSJ’s SEO strategy – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  12. @Ckanal The @HuffingtonPost’s SEO program was recently featured on Mashable – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  13. @ethanklapper No doubt, you could have written this in your sleep: How News Outlets Are SEO-ing Their Headlines – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  14. @JenNedeau I recently knocked @TIME’s SEO strategy—or lack thereof. Any thoughts? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv

To the SEOers

  1. @JaredBKeller Do your @TheAtlanticWire responsibilities include SEO? If so, here’s some unsolicited advice – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. @MattCutts I’d love to know what you think of this: How to Optimize Your Headlines for Google and Humans – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  3. Hey @SEOSteve Is this Mashable post on SEO accurate? – http://on.mash.to/JdigwG

To the Wordsmiths

  1. @Plain_Language Where do plain languagers come down on the issue of writing for Google vs. writing for humans? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. @JesseSheidlower Are you as troubled as others by the need today to write for Google rather than humans? – http://j.mp/JWfPAv

5. Drop ICYMIs

In your regular use of Twitter, you’ll likely come across people discussing a subject that pertains to your post. If so, chime in and contribute to the conversation.

The caveat: Make sure the connection is significant. Just because someone links to a post about search engine optimization doesn’t make your post on this subject germane. Relevance requires more than scanning for hash tags. Again, tailor your tweet so that it flows into the dialogue, rather than intrudes on it.

Here are the in-case-you-missed-it opportunities I harnessed:

  1. @laureni @1bobcohn Here’s the counterargument on why writing to attract Google’s algorithms still matters – http://j.mp/JWfPAv
  2. @cmoffett Why they should – http://j.mp/JWfPAv

Really?

Of course, the above tweets constitute an aggressive thrust. At this rate, you’re tweeting once every 25 words. Isn’t that excessive? Isn’t this all just a cover for shameless self-promotion?

On one hand, it is. As such, consider warning your followers that over the next day or so, a spammer will be hijacking your Twitter feed.

On the other hand, in a digiverse that grows more crowded by the second, you owe it to yourself to wring every tweet, like, plus, pin, digg, comment, view, and email out of everything you create. Whether you’re a guest contributor or a staff writer, self-promotion is an inescapable part of today’s creative process. The more opportunities you can create and maximize, the more your hard work will receive the recognition it deserves.

Jonathan Rick is the president of the Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm that helps brands use social media to shape and tell their story. Follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

A version of this blog post appeared in PR Daily.

Communicators, It’s Time to Board the Twitter Train

Twitter LogoOne of the most frequently asked questions at PRSA and other professional networking events these days is, “Do you use Twitter?”

Granted, social media is a hot topic.  Companies are using social media to market products, manage their public image, and build customer loyalty via YouTube channels and Facebook pages. 

Local TV newsrooms urge viewers to become fans on Facebook and upload images of breaking news and current events to the station’s Flickr page. 

Celebrities and politicians alike have embraced Twitter as a way to manage their visibility and raise awareness of their activities.

But not everyone is on board.

In fact, when I answer that yes, I do use Twitter on a daily basis, most PR and HR professionals alike are quick to dismiss it as a fad and something that has little relevance to the “business” of communications.

I disagree.

Look, I know all the arguments against using Twitter as an employee communications tool:  

  • “It’s a time-waster.”
  • “My employees are on the shop floor/at the service counter and don’t sit at a computer all day.”
  • “What if someone Tweets a profanity?”
  • “Who cares what Ashton Kutcher is doing?”  (OK, that one is mine.)
  • “Where is the ROI?”

All of these are valid arguments against adopting Twitter as an employee communications tool.  Sure, I can cite you companies that are using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yammer and a myriad of other social media tools as part of their comprehensive employee communications tool kit.  But you’ve heard those arguments before and you still aren’t convinced.

So let me tell you how I use Twitter:  as a professional development and research tool. 

There are some great resources out there that Tweet the latest workplace statistics and communication research findings.  I follow them and scan their Tweets to see if there is anything I can use to help one of my clients or even prepare me for a pitch to a new client.

There are professional and educational organizations, as well as industry experts, who offer free training, either via informational blogs or webinars and live chats.  I participate in as many as I can and apply that knowledge to the projects I’m supporting.

And there are recruiters and professional organizations that Tweet job openings and tips for effective resume development and interviewing.  I share those leads with friends and clients who are actively (or passively!) looking for work.

Communicators, it’s time to stop dithering and board the Twitter Express, if for no other reason than to prepare you for the day when you are out on the job market again.  After all, when was the last time you saw a PR or communications job posting that didn’t require expertise in social media?

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at rinkcomms@verizon.net or follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RinkComms