Top 5 Twitter Tips

Here, in follow up to our podcast yesterday, are Julie Gibbon’s top 5 tips to help you make the most of Twitter.

1. Define Your Twitter Strategy

Don’t venture into Twitter for the sake of it. Like any marketing activity, decide what you want to get out of it and be consistent. Twitter is a great tool to make instant and powerful connections, but offers endless opportunities for distraction. Don’t fall foul of those distractions – decide on your strategy and stick to it. The old faithful “Who, What, Why, When, How” can always be counted on to keep you straight.

2. Employ Tools to Help

Your Twitter strategy can be made easier using the right tools. You might want to manage multiple accounts, or deal with multiple timelines – there are tools to help. See a definitive list of Twitter applications here: (Thanks to @marismith for the link). Use them wisely.

3. Create Your Follow Policy

Don’t waste time dithering about whether to Follow someone or not. Decide on your Follow Policy from the outset and don’t stray from that – it’ll save you lots of valuable time.

4. Be Social

A community relies on interaction between members. Don’t forget to offer value to your community and you’ll receive value in turn. Engage with as many relevant people as you can – it’ll pay dividends and enhance your Twitter experience. Remember, your social network (on Twitter and elsewhere) is part of your business capital. Make sure it gives you best value, and protect it.

5. Measure, Measure, Measure

As Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) points out “Twitter is arguably the most powerful advertising mechanism since television” – and you wouldn’t run a television ad without measuring the results. Use tools to track and measure results in the same way as any marketing campaign.

Follow Julie on Twitter @juliegibbons and join our Twitter community at @outsmarts.


  1. That quote from Guy Kawasaki is interesting. I think he treats Twitter too much like advertising, myself. I was following him for a while and he tweeted so much about alltop (one of his sites) that I unfollowed him. He was like the TV ads that yell at you over and over again about the same damn thing whether you want it or not.

    I say “yay” for the measurability of so many online marketing activities if it means the decline of old school advertising that yells at you.

  2. @Tzaddi there have been a couple of US marketers I’ve had to ‘unfollow’ as well due to a surplus of chaff amongst the wheat, which is a shame, but it does totally destroy their credibility when the ratio of self-promotion to provision of information of interest gets out of whack. πŸ™‚

    Great post, Mhairi. Just found this extremely valuable site that can help you find businesses to follow on Twitter:

  3. Hi Tzaddi. I love Kawasaki – his books The Art of Start and Rules for Revolutionaries are pretty cool.

    That saying, I’m not that interested in Alltop. The beauty of Twitter is that I can just ignore what I’m not interested in, or turn it off – like you did. But @guykawasaki points me to enough interesting stuff to keep himself on my Following list. (It’s worth noting I haven’t bought his latest book yet – so perhaps for him it doesn’t work for as many folk as he’d like).

    Kawasaki has positioned himself as a thought leader and likes to stimulate a certain degree of controversy, which has served him well in increasing his profile and reaching a wider audience. That’s his chosen style – and it has worked to his advantage.

    Those with massive profiles like Kawasaki, Calcanis and Scoble can pretty much write their own rules. You have the choice whether to listen – or not. Certainly, I don’t suggest that anyone uses Twitter for blatant advertising, but rather to build meaningful relationships.

    For mere mortals, carefully using Twitter as part of your marketing strategy can pay off big time – giving you reach to individuals you wouldn’t normally dream of being able to speak to, and driving enough genuine interest your way that used correctly should get you your rewards.

    You just gotta be clear about what you want from it at the start, and be consistent with it – that way your relationships will be genuine. Anyone not interested can just turn you off. And you don’t want to talk to people who aren’t interested anyway – because that is what spam really is, isn’t it?

  4. @julie – adopting the ‘strategy’ of positioning yourself as a thought leader only works if you actually are one. πŸ™‚

    Mhairi and I talk all the time about how easily everyone grasps tactics and how difficult it is for people to grasp strategy. Part of the problem is that strategy is a long-term process. So is building relationships, but the keyword there is ‘building.’ One brick, one follower, one reader, one commenter at a time. πŸ™‚

  5. Great to see we’ve stimulated a debate. I love that.

    For the record, I don’t have a problem with advertising on Twitter if its subtle: as long as it adds value in some way, is interspersed with more meaningful/personal content and isn’t too frequent then advertise away.

    We use Twitter daily to spread awareness (i.e. advertise) what Out-Smarts does but I try to be subtle and NEVER spam. Its the spammers I have a problem with. I never add people whose follow to follower ratio is too out of whack as that is a sure sign of their spamming intentions.

    Its clear right now that too many business people (read “sheeple”) are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon without a clue as to why they are on there or what they hope to achieve from participation. Some don’t even seem to realise the value of Twitter in terms of listening and learning, building community or advertising for that matter.

    So in addition to Julie’s 5 most excellent tips, I would recommend that people take some time to understand what Twitter is all about, what it can do for their organization and whether their target audience is even on there before so much as creating their first Tweet. If people take time to do this first then it will form a strong foundation for an applicable, achievable Twitter strategy.

    As Ruth says, this is a long term process and if you don’t understand Twitter you won’t set achievable goals and you are more likely to loose interest when you discover that you can’t build Twitterome :o) in a day. Just like a deserted blog, a deserted Twitter feed can be damaging to your company brand.

    To all the “sheeple” out there – don’t just blindly follow the pack because its the in thing. Take time to understand the value Twitter can bring and determine whether its an appropriate fit before you jump.

    BTW You should add your name to Twitterpack:

  6. @Ruth @Mhairi Strategy. Tactics. Values. Style. Brand – it’s going to be different for everyone of us. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

    One of my favourite guys online – @drmani – has a policy of only following 40 people at a time on Twitter – so he can engage with them properly (though he has 2k + followers) . He took the more controversial step of protecting his updates at the turn of the year. His message for the New Year to his network was to ask them to resubscribe to his messages/emails – he only wants to speak to people who are genuinely interested in what he has to say.

    Quite a contrast to our much referenced @guykawasaki who has the following tip: “Get as many followers as you can. …Ignore people who tell you that itÒ€ℒs the quality of your followers not the quantity. TheyÒ€ℒre trying to make friends, not use Twitter as a tool. And, truth be told, there are only two kinds of Twitter users: those that want more followers and those that lie…”

    And I follow and engage with both these men. I find it fascinating how stirred up folks get about the whole quantity/quality debate. I myself probably sit somewhere in between – but I like this tweet from @drmani, which I think sums it up well;

    “Twitter tip: NO ONE can *spam* you on Twitter. YOU have total control. It lies in a button called FOLLOW. Click it – and POOF!”

    Happy tweeting – p.s. I changed my Twitter ID back to @peoplemapsjulie (strategic reasons πŸ˜‰ ).

  7. Julie, thanks for mentioning me – and dragging me into this debate πŸ˜‰

    Ruth put it brilliantly… ‘strategy’ in social media isn’t intuitive or
    easy to grasp/employ, most importantly because the ‘pay-off’ isn’t
    instant, but long-term. My short report, SOCIAL WINS, is about that.

    Something I shared in a thread on the Warrior forum yesterday may make
    sense to this discussion too:

    Here are some critical questions to ask and answer before you get

    1. Who is your audience? Whom are you trying to reach?

    2. What do they do? Are they already on social networks? Why?

    3. What do you want them to do?

    4. What do you expect will happen when they do?

    5. What could go wrong – and how will you deal with it?

    6. Who or what do you need to implement your social media plans?

    That said, each person will find a different approach to engaging in
    social networking and social media best suited to their strategy.

    So, depending upon YOUR strategy, having many followers or a few,
    opening up your Twitter stream to many or no one, spending all
    day on such networks or very little – each may be right.

    Which is why I smile quietly when some Twitterati issue ‘rules’ or
    even ‘guidelines’ that everyone else is expected to follow – or be
    damned! πŸ™‚

    For the record, Guy Kawasaki has inspired me for years with his
    pithy and interesting advice. I find it easier and more reliable
    to communicate with him via email, and don’t follow him on Twitter.

    Still, he heard my name mentioned on Twitter when he asked his tweeple
    about his new India All-top section. He then contacted me by email –
    and I sent him what he needed within 2 days. So, obviously, both our
    approaches work… just in different ways! πŸ™‚

    One thing is constant, though – the need to CONNECT – ENGAGE – RESPOND
    on social media.

    All success

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