For us, Twitter started relatively innocently – in August ’09, I looked up what competitors were doing on Twitter, and to my dismay found out that most of them were active on Twitter, with hundreds of followers. Afraid that we are missing the “social media boat,” we jumped in.
5 months later, @Firetide has 700+ followers and is one of the most active accounts in physical security and wireless mesh space. On 3 separate occasions, our partners commented on Firetide’s Twitter prowess, which is a bit funny since we’ve been on Twitter for only 5 months. (This goes to show that social media is not rocket science, and you don’t need a social media guru to guide your way).
But getting started from zero may seem daunting. In this post, I will give you tips and advice on how to get started, based on Firetide’s experience.
First, you need to set up your profile – which is easy, but still some accounts miss the basics.
- Name – pick something that is short (you’d be easy to retweet or mention) and as close as possible to the company’s name (side benefit: if someone is bashing your brand on Twitter, which will come up in Google’s real-time search, you can flood the twitterstream with your own tweets and drown out the bashing. See screen capture to the right).
- Picture – use the company’s logo if this is a corporate profile.
- Web – link to your web site or company blog
- Bio – keep to the point. Tip: to make your twitter presence more ‘personable’, mention who’s tweeting, such as “Tweets by @KseniaCoffman” so that people know who is the face behind the tweets; some companies put that on twitter backgrounds.
Once you have set up your account, begin tweeting to see how it feels. But you don’t want to tweet into the void, right? So, how do you get people to follow you?
- Start by following people/accounts you know in real life – your partners, distributors, and industry folks. Hopefully, they’ll follow you back.
- Promote your Twitter presence through regular communications channels. Post a link to your twitter page on your web site (home page, contact page); add the link to your email signature and ask your inside sales/support team to add it to their signatures. We include the link in our email blasts and at the end of our webinars, and I see a handful of new followers after each blast or online event.
- Ask employees to follow the corporate account. Include this request in an email to the company introducing the corporate presence on Twitter (sample letter follows). If you ask nicely and persistently, you’ll get followers – and best of all, these are “freebies”: you don’t need to follow them back to keep their ‘follow.’ (Apart from giving you ‘free followers’, you’ve just set up a great internal communications tool, especially if you have people in the field or remote offices.)
Below is a sample email introducing your company’s presence on Twitter. Feel free to borrow and re-use.
Firetide is now on Twitter at http://twitter.com/firetide! Below is more info on this effort:
Twitter is a ‘micro-blogging’ platform which allows users to post short text messages (up to 140 characters in length) and converse with other users via their phones or web browsers. Unlike email or text messaging on mobile phones, these conversations take place in the open. The platform is experiencing a phenomenal adoption curve in the US and being used increasingly by media, analysts, editors, as well as our integrator and distributor customers and technology partners. It is free to use with and can deliver many benefits for our communications and marketing objectives.
- Build relationships with relevant audiences; provide leadership and credibility, increasing our visibility as the expert in the space
- Provide a way for audiences to interact with Firetide to provide feedback, seek help and suggest ideas
- Monitor mentions on Twitter of ‘Firetide’, ‘wireless mesh’; engage with our critics to resolve problems and correct factual inaccuracies
- Provide live coverage of events for those who cannot attend
Types and Sources of Content:
Content will comprise a mixture of Firetide communications re-purposed for Twitter, and content produced exclusively for Twitter:
- Firetide news and press coverage
- Firetide events and marketing programs
- Videos on YouTube and photos on Flickr
To position Firetide as a filter of business intelligence and industry information, we’ll feature links to:
- Relevant industry events
- Industry insights and educational materials
- Relevant partner news (resellers, distributors, solution partners)
Why is Twitter important?
- It’s establishing itself as the main source of live update information
- It is increasingly used by our customers and partners, as well as embraced by industry media and analysts
- Search engine optimization – because it is updated frequently, Twitter content ranks highly on Google, and will give us additional exposure.
To keep our followers engaged, updates will be relatively frequent, between 1 to 3 messages per work day. During special events, updates may be more frequent.
To see how well our brand is performing on Twitter, we’ll track mentions of ‘Firetide’ and tone of these messages. We’ll also track click-through on the links in our messages; ‘re-tweets’ of Firetide messages, and overall performance via tools such as Klout or Twitalyzer.
Please help spread the word following Firetide on Twitter and by adding the link http://twitter.com/firetide to your signature.
The initial setup and steps to ”organic” follower growth may be all you need, depending on your company size and clout. But if you want to grow your followers faster than that you’ll have to proactively look for people to follow – so that they follow you back and thus grow your follower number. We’ll look at ‘following’ strategies, as well as how to get good content for Twitter, in the next installment.