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!’

What is a Tweetup and How Can I Get Involved?

‘A Tweetup is an event where people on Twitter come together to meet in person.’

Twitter Meetup

Or also known as a ‘Twitter Meetup’.

These events are rapidly becoming commonplace as more and more people are using Twitter.  They are a great way to connect in person with someone you have built a relationship with on Twitter.

On the whole they are very casual, laid back affairs – often in a bar or pub.  They are a great form of free, casual business networking and fantastic opportunity to meet with and strengthen relationships with local Tweeters.

If you are lucky enough to already have a Tweetup group in your local area go along!  If not why don’t you be the one to start it up!

Norfolk Tweetup           @Norfolktweetup

MK:tweetup        @mktweetup

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

Is Social Media a part of Marketing, Public Relations or Web Development?

As social media has started to emerge as a discipline it is having trouble finding where it belongs.  There are agencies that deal specifically with social media but often it sits within the offerings of a PR agency or web agency or in-house department.  But where does it really fit?

Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) are simply tools that provide a method of communicating a message.  You could argue that Marketing, PR and Web all do the same – but in different ways.

Is it a form of Marketing?

Traditional marketing is about an organisation deciding on how they want sell a product and using various tools (TV, newspapers, radio) to spread that message as widely and as many times as possible – hoping that it might fall on the right ears and that person will buy the product.

Social media is not about pushing a message but about engaging with an audience that have chosen to hear the message.  Social media can be used for marketing, very effectively, but only if the marketer using it acknowledges that they will have to work differently and that it is now a two-way conversation.

Is it a form of Public Relations?

Public Relations (PR) is about an organisation using the media to spread a message.  This is by creating a story related to the organisation, in the hope that it is picked up and creates positive media coverage that positions the organisation at the forefront of the media consumers mind.

You could say that, effectively, social media cuts out the middle man.  Social media platforms give the organisation the ability to communicate directly with its consumers, and others, and to have complete control over the message.

Is it a part of Web Development?

Facebook, in particular, sits very closely to web development.  It operates in within an Open Source framework that allows developers to create applications and html code to customise pages.  Twitter also has many applications now attached to it that act as tools to maximise its use.

Social media also has the ability to drive traffic to websites and interact with them through social plug-ins.  It can also help with search engine optimisation of a website.

 

So, in conclusion, it would seem that social media has a leg in all three disciplines.  This is no bad thing as it demonstrates what a diverse and effective tool for communication social media is.  The only downside, as there always is with any emerging field, is that many Marketing, PR and Web practitioners are ‘having a go’ at social media but often not getting it quite right.

 

The only way to ensure that your social media use is going to be as effective as possible is to get support and advice from a specialist social media agency.

The Importance of Tagging in Social Media Marketing

Tagging is one the most simple and effective tools of social media marketing.  It works differently in different platforms but all to the same end of increasing engagement and visibility of what you are saying.

 

Facebook

In Facebook you can tag photos, and now friends and places, in status updates.  For business use though the most effective form of tagging is the @ tag in updates.  If your page is a fan of other pages they can be tagged in a post by inserting the @ symbol and typing the name of the page.  If you then hit return this creates a link to that page and will also notify that page that it has been tagged.  This in turn should stimulate some sharing and engagement with those tagged.

Twitter

Tagging on Twitter has more options and the ability to make your 140 character update have even more reach. @ tagging on Twitter serves a similar purpose to how it works on Facebook.  If you use insert the @ symbol into a Tweet and start typing one of the usernames of someone you follow it should bring them up in a list that you can then select from and tag that person in your Tweet.  This then means that they are guaranteed to see that Tweet as it will come up in their ‘Mentions’ feed rather than get lost in the very fast moving ‘Home’ feed.  If they are an active Tweeter this should stimulate them to reply and provide the start of some engagement.

# tagging on Twitter serves two purposes.  By # tagging a word e.g. #socialmedia you are helping to make it part of, what eventually could become, a ‘Trending Topic’.  If multiple Tweets # tag the same word/topic they become part of a big conversation on Twitter and move up the trending list.

# tagging also gives those words the ability to be ‘seen’ more easily by those who are following those subjects.  There are various tools /apps that have been created for Twitter that give users the ability to search for or be notified about Tweets that contain certain words.  So again # tagging key words in your Tweet will enable it to be seen rather than get lost in the fast moving home feed.

Get tagging!

What Is The Relationship Between Websites, Blogging And Social Media?

As talked about in our previous post ‘If I have a Facebook and Twitter do I still need a Website’, we believe that having a good website that works alongside your social media activity is important. The same goes for a Blog – it is a tool that sits within your online offerings and all three should work together…

The objective of any online activity for any organisation should be to promote the organisation in a good light and engage with customers, to the aim of increasing business.

Communication in a Digital World

The Website
A website is, in general, a static part of the online offering. It is there to provide information quickly and easily and can have many pages and layers to get across complex information. If any business wants to be taken seriously they need to have a good, easy to find and navigate, website that they can link back to. It is the equivalent of your shop window in the digital world..

The Blog
Blogging is becoming a popular way for individuals and organisations to communicate regularly with their customers, often pushed through social media channels. Ideally a blog would sit as part of a website as it gives you an nice area that can be regularly updated with news, opinion and articles that add value to you customers/followers (potential customers). Regularly publishing to a blog helps with Search Engine Optimisation, establishing a reputation in the digital world and engaging through social media.

Social Media
Your social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) are networking communities that you are part of. There are many ways to communicate and engage on all three as talked about in our previous posts ‘Top tops to getting the most from Twitter’ and ‘Top tips to getting the most from LinkedIn’. As well as this though, they thrive on linking back to sources of wider information – your website or blog. They help with driving traffic to your blog and website and with Search Engine Optimisation.

In the end all these online tools are there to be used for communication. They are all slightly different in the way they do it, but by having a cohesive digital marketing strategy they can all work alongside each other to promote your organisation in the digital world.

Image: arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net