Marketing Mondays: to tweet or not to tweet

Photo by Cowgirl Creations

Photo by www.cowgirlcreations.ca

I’m writing this from my couch in the living room unreasonably early – even by my account – for a Monday morning. But shortly after I tuck Wee into the school bus, my dining room table/boardroom will fill with our team as work on the next issue begins and with that there will little opportunity for blogging for the rest of the day.

And, I didn’t want to miss this edition of Marketing Mondays. By the way, to catch up on all of my Monday posts, just click on the Marketing Monday tag in the column to the right.

I’ve been watching the slow change of the seasons, the yard is scattered with leaves this morning, and Canada geese are streaming through the skies above.

It’s time to think about another bird. A little bird. Yes, I speak of the bluebird, Twitter, a tool I employ limitedly throughout my work week.

With over 200 million users generating roughly the same amount of “tweets” (individual text based posts of up to 140 characters) over the course of a day, Twitter is a heavy hitter in the world of social media. I don’t quite yet have a handle on how prevalent it’s marketing capacity is in the western horse world of business, but I do know how useful it has been at the Western Horse Review office, and to myself, as an editor. I’m going to try and articulate that over the next few Marketing Mondays, so if you’ve been pondering procuring a Twitter account for your equine business (or yourself), or you’re still at the stage of wondering what all the fuss about Twitter is about, tune in over the next few Mondays. We’ll figure it out.

First of all, let’s get you signed up. Here’s the basics:

1. Begin your account at  http://twitter.com. It’s straightforward and simple. Take some to think about your account name. Keep it simple, easy to remember and tie it into your business. Note there is a 15 character limit.

2. Click on Settings and complete your profile information. Don’t forget to include the URL to your website in the appropriate field. Add, a photo, a background and you’re off to the races. Later, you can create a more personalized background for yourself by choosing one at http://www.twitterbackgrounds.com. There are also a number of really cool customizations others have done, but let’s save that for a future post.

You’re now ready to begin tweeting. That is composing a message of no more than 140 characters (yes, there is a counter), any time of day.

I don’t have a personal Twitter account, but I do manage the the Western Horse Review Twitter account. You can find it here. While I haven’t perfected our tweeting timing or content, I do know these two elements are crucial for effective tweeting.

Let’s address timing first. Imagine the flow of tweets on anyone’s computer screen as a stream or river your horses visit. Chances are they arrive at a certain time of day, perhaps mid-afternoon when the sun is high and thirst is prevalent. The make-up of a twitter audience is surprisingly similar. They likely check the “river” at approximately the same time of the day, most days. Not everyday, not always, but there’s most certainly a pattern and ballpark window of time your followers will be at the “river” glancing over the stream of tweets passing through. Pin down that time and your tweets will be noticed, and re-tweeted more consistently, and you’ll gain more followers. That doesn’t mean you need to lose yourself in a large market research project trying to figure it out. Just begin tweeting, and be observant. Take notice of the times of day equine-related activity is at a high in your twitter stream. Be aware and tweet away. Learn as you go.

Next, there’s content. Once you get over the fact that sadly no-one but you is likely interested in the fact that you just finished mucking out the last stall, or experienced an epiphany in your training program, you can move on to more relevant tweets. I try not to waste anyone’s time with the Western Horse Review tweets, while maintaining as much of a human feel as possible. I think about making every tweet worth reading. My goal is to be unique. My desire – to make our tweets add value to any follower’s day. Ask yourself of your own tweets: is this something I’d like to know? Is my tweet sharing valuable knowledge?

But let’s not forget following, because you’re ready at this point to follow as well. Here’s an excellent video tutorial on how to follow. Who you follow is cause for another round table session, but we’ll get into that in a later post.

Twitter is amazingly simple, and incredibly complex, but the beauty of it is you can learn as you go.

Tune in next Monday when I’ll explain what’s behind all those funny little symbols you see used in your Twitter stream and also share some great tools to make your tweeting life easier and simpler. In the meantime, here’s some interesting links on the subject of Twitter.

The Real History of Twitter

Great Tips for Tweeting

How to Add a Photo Gallery to Your Profile

Twitter Tutorial – Getting Started

and just for fun:

10 Must Follow Fictional Twitter Accounts