Archive for Twitter

Using Twitter for Community Cohesion

Twitter is my favourite social network.  I love its simplicity, restriction on characters and ability to connect people to each other, and them to news and information from all over the world so quickly and easily and at no cost!

Twitter Logo

I have come across examples recently in Norfolk where Twitter is being used as more than a marketing tool or news feed though, and actually enabling communities to engage with each other in real discussion and provide a sense of community cohesion.

My first insight into this was when Norfolk Tweetup was invited to Swaffham by Cllr Ian Sherwood.  He promised that Swaffham was very active on Twitter and that there would be a good turnout, and he was not wrong, it was the best attended Norfolk Tweetup to date!  Whilst there I got talking to Ian and also Town Clerk, Richard Bishop, and they explained to me how they, as town council representatives, had taken it upon themselves to enlighten Swaffham as to the virtues of Twitter.  They had held training sessions where, once sceptical local businesses, had learnt the ropes and at the same event those businesses told me how they now loved Twitter now and found it incredibly useful to share news about their business and keep up-to-date with their industry.

Richard Bishop - Swaffham Town Clerk“Twitter adds greater depth to any community, reaching some people previously uninterested in what is going on in their parish or town…” Richard Bishop, Swaffham Town Clerk.

I then did an interview with Martin George from the EDP who told me that he was actually tweeting from the Swaffham town council meetings and that the discussion on Twitter with local residents and businesses before, during and after the meetings was a real sign that Swaffham had taken to Twitter to share ideas and opinions, sometimes strong ones!, about their local town.

Martin George“Twitter has a real role in community cohesion.  It is a great leveller, with anyone able to easily and instantly communicate with anyone else, no matter what their position. The conversations are conducted in the open – great for spreading information and seeing elected representatives held to account. It lowers the barriers to participation – I’ve been to town council meetings with three people in public gallery but many times that following and joining the debate on Twitter. The debate can happen at any time, and does not have to be tied down to specific venue and date. And I have seen what started on Twitter spill out into the physical world, and lead to new friendships and relationships.”  Martin George.

Shortly after this I was invited to Watton to meet with Iain Cockburn, centre manager of the Wayland Business Centre, and Julian of the Breckland View.  They told me that they had also been running free Twitter and social media training sessions for local residents and businesses and felt strongly that as a community, Watton could benefit from being more proactive on Twitter and use it to communicate with residents and share local and business news.

Iain Cockburn‘We have set-up the Wayland Twitter Network to bring together the community to the benefit of all those who work and live in Wayland. We want to build an online community where people who care about the Wayland area can meet with others who share the same belief.  We offer a place where individuals, organisations, groups, clubs and businesses can share what’s important to them in the local area.’  Iain Cockburn, Centre Manager at the Wayland Business Centre in Watton.

I am now seeing a upsurge in Twitter accounts and people tweeting in Fakenham and understand that Fakenham Town Council are looking into using Twitter as a tool for communication.

If used well Twitter is an excellent tool to quickly communicate and share information on a local level.  It is designed to be viral and one tweet has the potential to be seen and read by many people.  It is also a free way for a local community to engage and talk to each other and share opinions.

If you would like to understand more about Twitter come along to a ‘Get to Grips with Twitter’ workshop on 15th May.

Twitter Account Hacked – what you need to do.

I have been using Twitter for many years now and currently manage multiple accounts for clients.  I have witnessed a huge surge recently in fake accounts, spamming and people having their Twitter account hacked.  Which I suppose was inevitable, but will sadden me greatly if it turns Twitter into an environment where users don’t feel safe to communicate and share.

Twitter Account Hacked - what you need to do.

Image via The Redhead Riter

Hacking and spamming is not unique to Twitter, and the same rules that apply in other on-line communication apply on this platform.

The first you will probably know of it if your Twitter account is hacked is that a nice follower of yours will Direct Message (DM) you (please don’t Tweet the poor person that has been hacked and @ tag them – they will be embarrassed enough as it is!) to say that they think you have been hacked.  This will be because you have unwittingly sent them a DM along the lines of:

wow your busted in the video [dodgy link]

what are you doing in this video [dodgy link]

Now to me these scream of being SPAM – but for those new to Twitter they may not.  I can tell you it is so DO NOT click on the link!  Please just DM your poor Twitter friend back and let them know.

What they need to do is immediately change their password and check that nothing else has been changed on their account.  Delete any spam messages they have unwittingly sent and check their PC security software is up-to-date.  Twitter provide some useful advice.

In general follow these rules to try and keep Twitter a safe, spam free environment for us all:

– Regularly change your Twitter password and try to make it something a bit complex and complicated (combination of letters and numbers usually works well).

– Do not follow accounts that have ‘eggs’ as their profile picture and no bio about who they are.  As a general rule a genuine Twitter account will have about the same amount of followers to following (unless they are celebrities, then they will usually be verified by Twitter if they are genuine).  Genuine Tweeters will also be tweeting regularly and involved in conversations with other

– If you are tagged in a Tweet from what appears to be a person that you don’t know with just a link DO NOT click on the link or follow them.  Click on their profile and go to the drop down arrow which should give you an option to ‘Report spam’ and ‘Block’.  Generally these accounts will have tweeted a lot but have no followers or people they are following.

– If a profile, message or link looks dodgy then it probably is so just ignore or delete it (as you would a SPAM email).

Twitter in the news again, and again…

Update: Since writing this Paul Chambers has won his case in the High Court that challenged his conviction BBC News

Court cases around Twitter seem to be fairly commonplace these days.  Paul Chambers is in court again today (Wednesday 27th June), being supported by Twitter celebrities Al Murray and Stephen Fry, to try and get his conviction for ‘sending a message of a menacing character’ overturned – more info here

#twitterjoketrial has been trending all day as, rightly so, all those on Twitter are interested in the outcome.

Twitter is the most fast moving, information sharing, opinion feed that exists and that’s what makes it so attractive to its 500 million plus users.  This freedom and ability to share information quickly has been attributed, amongst other things, to aiding civil unrest and social revolution.

As of yet, governments and individuals have been unable to censor Twitter – and rightly so.  Although it came close when Ryan Gigs got ousted on Twitter for having an extra-marital affair, despite taking out a court injunction that covered traditional media.  Lawyers threatened to subpoena the first Tweeter who let the cat out of the bag, but when hundreds of thousands more Tweeters sprang to his defence by tweeting and re-tweeting the same information, they were onto a losing battle.

This week there has been an arrest over alleged racists tweets aimed at members of the England football team.  In this instance (as is often the case) Twitter policed itself as another Tweeter informed the police of the alleged racist tweets and the sender.

Twitter will delete tweets and users if it feels that they are against Twitter rules.  It also has very comprehensive terms of service, that make it very clear that any content posted is the responsibility of the user.

Twitter operates outside of the ‘nanny state’ as is one of very few places where opinion and comment is free.  It is refreshing to be part of a real social network that allows users the freedom to express their opinions, within reason, and take responsibility for them.

In the case of Paul Chambers, it is a classic situation of the receiver (Robin Hood Airport) not receiving the message in the vain to which it was sent.  If he had said the same thing out loud in the airport security queue would he have been detained, probably.  It was meant to be a joke, but unfortunately backfired.  Perhaps it is a lesson to all of us to think before we Tweet?

In the words of Twitter:

‘What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly. You are what you Tweet!’

Favourite Tools for Twitter

The great thing about Twitter is that it has been kept simple but given the freedom for many tools and applications to be created around it. The key is choosing to use the ones that have the right fit for you.

Twitter Logo

As a starting point these are some favourites:

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard, similar to TweetDeck. The preference I give to Hootsuite is purely personal – the layout and design is best suited to how I like to view things.

There is a free version of Hootsuite that allows you to have one person as an administrator and upload up to five different social media accounts. You can also upgrade to various professional packages that allow you to collate reports and have multiple administrators.

The main reason I use Hootsuite though is for its scheduling abilities. This is particularly useful with Twitter where it is common to post the same message multiple times over different days to try and ‘catch’ followers’ attention (see Tweetstats for the best times to Tweet).

Tweetstats

This is a great tool that does what it says on the tin. It gives you statistics specifically related to a Twitter account. The part of it I get most use from is the graph that shows you when you followers are most active as this then gives a great indication as to the best times to Tweet.

It is also good for gathering statistics about who has retweeted and replied to accounts which helps with reporting.

Bitly

There are many link shortening sites but bit.ly is one that has been around for quite a while and is simple to use. It is a great tool for Twitter where you are restricted on characters and has the added bonus of giving you the statistics relating to how many times the link has been clicked on.

Twilert

This is another great little tool to help with Twitter. You can set up Twilerts quickly and easily for free for any word or subject. You can use it to track tweets about your organisation, tweets relating to what your organisation does or competitors. It can get a bit overwhelming but it great to use when you are setting up and growing a Twitter account to see what else is ‘out there’.

As I said there are many, many tools out there to help you to manage and monitor Twitter – it is really a case of trying them out and seeing what works best for you.

Social Media in 2012 – What Next?

2011 is being hailed as the year that social media really took off:

Facebook hit 800 million users – 10% of the world’s population!

200 million Tweets a day are now being sent.

Google+ became the world’s fastest growing social media network – gaining 25 million users in the four weeks since its launch.

So what is going to happen in 2012? Will Facebook continue to dominate the scene or is there another social media platform waiting in the wings to take Facebook’s crown?

Facebook
There is no doubting Facebook’s dominance of the social media sphere. From a user’s point of view it continues to be the platform of choice for sharing news, photos, videos and connecting with friends and family. With the ease of use of Facebook Ads it is also a marketers dream, having access to a database of 800 million users whose demographics can be broken down to where they live, how old they are and what they like doing.

The one factor that continues to plague Facebook though is privacy. Its default settings are still set to public and there are current issues around users’ details being used without their consent in Sponsored Stories.

In my opinion Facebook will continue to remain a strong player in 2012 – although I can see another big privacy storm blowing up at some point!

Twitter
As Twitter moves from a small information network to more of a business model, like Facebook and Google, I can see it losing its strength as the ‘alternative’ social media network. Its appeal was in its simplicity. Limiting updates to 140 characters and account branding to a minimum kept it simple and, for those who get it, easy to use.

The recent changes; introduction of brand accounts, promoted tweets and topics will bring Twitter the income it needs to make it a viable business but will it alienate its users?

Google+
‘Google’s answer to Facebook’ boomed into existence in the second half of 2011. Its ease of use and familiar feel, as well as the addition of hangouts and the use of circles, has already made it popular, although still only predominantly with those with a professional interest in media, marketing and web. With brand pages already introduced and, no doubt, some form of business advertising not far away this will be the platform to watch in 2012.

Let us not forget that Google+ is owned by Google, who own You Tube. I think Google have lots more tricks up their sleeves to reveal to us all in 2012 that will link these three sites, add to the user experience and make it a one-stop shop for browsing and sharing.

Path
This relatively unknown social media network has the potential to be the underdog that takes off in 2012.

Path – Introducing Path 2 from Path on Vimeo.

Its ease of use, lovely design, simplicity and privacy give it appeal to the social media nay-sayers and those who are tired of being bombarded by advertising while they are trying to connect with their friends and family.

One thing is for sure, social media is here and here to stay. As the way we live in society forces us to be further apart physically – social media gives us the ability to connect. Human beings are born to communicate and share, and social media platforms give us the ability to do this quickly and easily – just pick the one that suits you best!

Related posts:

What is Google+ and should my organisation be using it?

Is Google+ the Next Big Thing for Social Media in Business?

10 Reasons why Twitter works for Business-2-Business Social Media Marketing

1.  You will probably find a lot of the businesses you are working with are on there.

2.  You can build an online network of local, national and international businesses from your office chair.

3.  If you follow a business you have synergy with they will almost always follow you back.

4.  It is easy to tag a business you have met-up with/are working with in a Tweet to give them recognition.

5.  It is easy to update businesses you work with any news (once you have built up a following).

6.  Unless you are blocked you can follow anyone so can easily keep an eye on what competitors are saying.

7.  You can follow business publications and bloggers to be kept up-to-date with current trends/industry news.

8.  You can position yourself as an industry specialist by Tweeting links back to blogs/articles on-line.

9.  Your Tweets can be searched and read by more than your followers if you hash tag key and industry words.

10.  You can build a rapport with a business that you don’t yet know by re-tweeting and replying to their Tweets.

Related Blog Post: Top tips to getting the most from Twitter

Top tips to getting the most from Twitter

“Twitter users send more than 140 million tweets a day. With over 20 per cent of the tweets related to products or brands.” – The Marketer

Twitter is an online network that you can tap into to connect with other people in your industry, find out news or engage with your customers.

These are some top tips to get the most from it:

• Make sure you have a good avatar (picture). Either of yourself or the logo of your organisation. Ideal size is 73×73 pixels.

• Make sure your Bio describes succinctly what you are and what you do and preferably links to your website for added authentication.

• You don’t have to follow everyone who is following you – only follow those that are going to add value to your feed.

• Respond to any mentions or direct messages within 24 hours.

• Keep tweets short, sharp and to the point with a link to an article/picture and tagged with an appropriate hashtag for search purposes e.g. #socialmedia

• Look to be ‘engaging’ three to four times a day at least (tweeting, re-tweeting and replying all count as engaging).

• Use tools such as SocialOomph and HootSuite to help you plan and schedule regular tweets and responses.

These tips just scratch the surface of the potential that Twitter has as a communication tool but will hopefully take you to the next step of getting the most from Twitter if you are just starting out.