Archives for tweet

Insure your Tweets?

Twitter Bird shot down by arrows

Are you prepared for a bad tweet? Are you insured?

Social media is becoming an integral part of the new marketing strategy. Many would argue that it is now an integral part of any comprehensive business plan. As more companies are embracing social media, we will probably also see more mishaps like the infamous Red Cross Rogue Tweet and the F-bomb on Chrysler. Beyond PR damage control, how can companies protect themselves?  Can they actually insure their tweets?

As a social media strategist and business owner, the question of liability insurance is very salient. But how do you insure a social media service?  Is it marketing? Yes. Is it customer service? Yes. Is it outside the standard definitions of customer service and marketing for insurance companies? Yes.

Most insurance companies do not have a “social media” insurance package because the liability has yet to be properly measured. In the world of short attention spans and tweets that can last 10 seconds or 10 months, how do you measure the liability of a bad message?

Lloyds of London has started to investigate Twitter Insurance. The Elin Group, Lloyd’s underwriting group that focuses on high-risk clients and provides special insurance services for foreign correspondents, TV personalities and film crews operating inside war zones, are looking into the factors that affect insuring tweets.

It seems a little strange that tweets are being lumped into a high risk group with foreign correspondents and war zone film crews. But that is the result of the unknown quantity. We have yet to fully quantify the positive impact of social media. We know that it is big and the reach is exponential. But we don’t have a dollar amount attached to a good tweet. So how do we quantify a bad one?

The depth of the effect of a bad tweet will be affected by a number of factors

  • The level of influence of the tweeter
  • The size of their network
  • The number of times it is retweeted
  • Who retweets it
  • How it is handled
  • The nature of the message

It is possible that things like Klout score will become a factor in establishing influence. Though many of us question the true significance of Klout, it is one of the only tools that is measuring influence. Other factors may include who is managing your social media, and whether or not you have a social media policy and an established risk management plan.

The social media policy is an important issue for insurance companies because not only does that policy determines how you tweet and post on your social media, it also includes what is acceptable for employees to tweet (both on and off the job). This is meant to prevent the posting of confidential or sensitive company information, as well as disparaging posts by employees. A policy cannot prevent an inappropriate tweet, but it can set a company standard on what is acceptable and what is not. This helps lower liability because at least there is a policy that outlines what is considered appropriate by the company.

Who manages your social media is extremely important. So many companies are trusting their social media to inexperienced interns or people low on the corporate ladder. The job is given to entry level positions because many companies don’t view the work as a worthwhile time investment for someone higher up in the company. The problem is, your social media is part of your public face. It is an integral part of your marketing and PR strategy, as well as your customer service. It is not something that should be trusted to someone who simply knows how to post on Twitter. Make sure that your social media is being overseen by a conscientious manager who understands the potential liability. This creates a good argument for using qualified outside social media managers and strategists, or hiring an internal specialist.

Will Twitter insurance be the next step in the business of social media? Most likely yes.  Companies that have a high level of cultural influence will want to have the most amount of liability protection possible. However, will this kind of insurance be relevant for smaller businesses?  Are people really suing because of bad tweets? How much damage can one do to a company’s reputation? When is a perceived liability truly a liability?

Twitter gets fancy with some new updates

Twitter has just announced a new feature. You now have the ability to see your friends’ timelines. Essentially what this does is let you see what your friends see when they login to their Twitter.  The argument for this is that if you are following an influencer you might be interested in the type of tweets they are interested in, in order to expand your network or learn from their Twitter style. The reality is that most of the people who are considered influencers follow a lot of people, so it is unlikely that they use their primary timeline for monitoring their feed. They more likely use lists to follow the people they are truly interested in.

List are something you have always been able to view, unless the person has set the list as private.  So in essence, you have always been able to see the feeds of the people in your influencers’ timelines, or at least the ones they pay attention to.

The new “friends timeline” feature is being rolled out slowly across Twitter. Most people do not have it yet and as more people get it I am sure we will start seeing some feedback.

Fancy Twitter BirdThis is the third big announcement from Twitter in the past week.

Earlier this week they announced the acquisition of Tweetdeck, a third party app that is used for managing your Twitter account. Tweetdeck is a favorite among marketers, promoters and companies that need to monitor multiple Twitter streams. It is great for monitoring engagement and lists. In fact, I use it!

Twitter also changed their email notifications to be more robust. Now when someone mentions you or gives you a retweet, Twitter will send you a notification to let you know. It is great to be able to keep up with your Twitter via email, though if you are like me and don’t like your inbox being filled with notifications, I would suggest turning off the option in your Twitter settings.

So it was a big week in the Twitterverse, but for many of us these changes are not really affecting the way we will continue our engagement. But it did answer the question about why so many people were having issues with their Twitter, like their profiles not showing any tweets or showing no followers…it was all due to the updates. Now they are done and hopefully things will return to business as usual.

 

Not all Trends are Meaningful

@Dios_Padre

@Dios_Padre originated a ridiculous trend. Though it had no meaning, it does show the power of influence.

Many things trend on Twitter. But not everything that trends is meaningful. In fact, some things go beyond being silly and are actually just meaningless – occasionally literally gibberish.

Trending is often a product of influence rather than significance. If someone has a lot of followers, and is influential in their tweets, they can often start a trend.  A recent ridiculous trend was started by @Dios_Padre who was following an existing smaller trend, #7plagasActuales ,which are tweets that seem to be a tongue-in-cheek biblical reference to the 7 Plagues

This particular tweet was:

Núm. 5: Las personas que E3zZcRibIReN aZhIiii #7plagasActuales

Roughly Translated:

Num 5: The people that E3zZcRibIReN aZhIiii #7plagasActuales

So unless I’m missing some deep metaphysical reference, “E3zZcRibIReN aZhIiii” appears to be complete nonsend.  But it took Spanish speaking Twitter by storm and got enough tweets that it trended!  Of course, many of the trends were laughing at the fact that it was trending, or asking why.

Trending can be good to use for tapping into an audience you have not reached. It is great for starting conversations with new tweeps. It is an excellent tool to show that you are hip to the jive of Twitter (yeah, I just said hip to the jive). However, not all trends are meaningful or even interesting.  Pick your trend with some thought and intention. Think about the audience that will be reading it – is it your audience? Of course, commenting on a ridiculous trend can also be a good way to add some humor to your Twitter stream…

Live Tweeting the Bin Laden Raid

Live tweeting is something that is becoming more popular and more common. In reality, the only difference between live tweeting and regular tweeting is that someone is commenting on an event as it happens, versus commenting on it after the fact. A lot of times live tweeting is considered the territory of the hard core tweeter. But as people integrate Twitter into their daily habits, it is becoming more common. The interesting thing about live tweeting is that it can act as documentation to world events. And that is specifically what happened with one man who unknowingly live tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Laden.

The night of the raid on Bin Laden’s mansion, one of his neighbors tweeted about the loud noises and the helicopters flying over his house.

Osama Bin Laden Raid Tweets

Once he realized what was happening he posted:

Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.

He later posted:

I apologize for reporting the operation ‘unwittingly/unknowingly’ – had I known about it, I would have tweeted about it ‘wittingly’ I swear.

He explained his tweets:

I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That’s all.

But he is not just a Tweeter awake and tweeting. Though that might be the truth of the situation, in reality he is the person who documented the raid as it happened. He gave the “man on the street” perspective that every news reporter is always searching for. He reported the actual situation that we could only speculate about.

Twitter has become a tool for documenting world events. Most of the time we know about those events. They are associated with hashtags coordinating links.  Some of the most influential events are not planned, but people are still on Twitter. We are creating a fascinating and influential new prime research source. Events like this show how important a single tweet can be.

17 Tips for a Better Business Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are a great way to get to know your community. For businesses they provide an opportunity to grow Twitter Birds on a branchyour network, scope out potential clients, position yourself in the community and grow your reputation.  Basically, you are talking to a large active segment of your target market.

So how do you make sure you are getting the most out of your Twitter chat? First make sure that you are using the proper tools to participate in the chat, like Tweetchat or Tweetdeck.

Tweet Chat: Etiquette & Business

  1. Always add the hashtag to your tweets, ie. #agchat. Otherwise your tweet will not be a part of that chat.
  2. Say hello when you join the chat and give a small introduction as to who you are .
  3. Let your Twitter followers know that you are jumping into a chat.  Even in a chat, your tweets still go out to your Twitter stream. This can be annoying to people following you if you are clogging up their Twitter stream. Letting them know is just a courtesy that many people appreciate. Plus, it gives them the opportunity to join in the chat if they didn’t know about it.
  4. Many chats have a moderator and set questions. Keep your tweeting on topic. If you have a question that is totally off topic, send it to the moderator to be considered for another chat.
  5. If the chat is using a specific format, like “Q1: Then your tweet #tweetchat” try to use the format. This is to help keep the conversation orderly and to make it easier for people to read the transcripts later on.
  6. If someone tweets something you like, or a piece of valuable information, retweet it.  Retweeting is a way to let them know that you liked it. It is also a way to share the information with your followers who may not be in the chat. Remember that everything you tweet goes into your timeline, so all your followers will be able to see it.
  7. Add a comment before your re-tweet if you are trying to grow the conversation, ie. “Very Funny! @tweep Q1: That video about herding cats was great! #agchat”
  8. If your comment is too long to have paired with the retweet, then direct your comment to the person you are talking to with an @ mention. Try to use the chat format (like 5 above) so other people can join in your conversation, e.g.,”@tweep I like what you said about safety. Have you thought about teaching? Q3 #tweetchat”
  9. Share links. If you have information that would be valuable to the group, then share the links.
  10. Shorten your links. Twitter is limited to 140 characters. When you post a link, make sure to shorten it. Many programs, like Tweetdeck, will do this automatically. But if your does not, then you can use URL shorteners like Bit.ly.
  11. Do not spam. Twitter chats are not the forum for you to blatantly tell people about your business or product.  If you have something relevant to share about it, that is fine. Otherwise don’t just post links to your website.
  12. Be jovial. Twitter chats are a chat.  The best conversations and interactions often come from casual conversation. People like to see your personality, so don’t be afraid to let it come out.
  13. Laugh at jokes. If someone else is being funny, let them know by giving them a re-tweet with LOL in front of it. Just like you, they want feedback too, and they won’t know that you are laughing unless you tell them.
  14. When you leave, say goodbye and thank you. Before signing off your chat just drop a quick tweet that says goodbye and thanks for a great chat. It lets people know that you are leaving but also gives a wave to the moderators for their work.
  15. Thank your retweets and mentions. After the chat is over, go back and create a thank you tweet that lists all the people who talked to you via mentions or retweets. You can post something as simple as “Thanks for the RT’s and convo in #agchat @laurencubed @twitterperson @agchat”. This is a good way to acknowledge those who you connected with, plus gives you an opportunity to continue the conversation after the chat is over.
  16. Follow the people you talk to. If you are growing your network, make sure to follow the people in your chat, especially those you talked to.
  17. Create a chat list. Create a list for the chat and then add the people that you meet to that list. It will make it easier for you to develop future relationships by listing them, because you will be identifying how you know them.

paper.li – The Daily Spam

Paper.li SPAM Dailypaper.li made a big splash on Twitter last fall. By December, everywhere you looked there was a new paper.li. For a while the popularity grew so fast that we began to wonder if they were going to be the new Follow Friday? But as I saw more of them being posted, I also began to wonder:

  • Are people actually reading them?
  • Do they have any effect on SEO?
  • Would they actually drive traffic to my site?
  • Do the people posting even realize they are posting?

I gave it a try to see what I thought about it, and one question was answered right away. No, I did not know when they were posting. I would see the occasional re-tweet and thats when I would realize that my paper.li went out.

The traffic question did not take long to answer. As more of my stories were being caught in the paper.li generator, I watched my traffic sources to see how many billions of people were coming to my site because of this paper. Well, the answer was zero billions. In fact, I was not receiving any traffic from the tweets.

So then I began to wonder if anyone was actually reading them.  I don’t – when I see them come out, they just filter through my newsfeed like other auto-posting spam. The only time I open them is when I see my name mentioned, then I check the story and re-tweet. I don’t usually look at the other stories; about 1 in a 100 times I see one where I actually decide to click the link. I figured if I am not reading them, the likelihood that other people were reading them was pretty slim.

The other issue is auto-content generation. I recently wrote about why auto-blogging is bad – well, paper.li is not much different. It automatically pulls content from specified users or keywords and then puts it together in the form of original content.  The author credits are not always right, and if they are wrong there is nothing you can do about it. Once created they are posted to your account, jamming up the timeline with paper.li posts.  Usually we call posts that jam up the timeline with content that we ignore spam;  why is this any different? Oh wait, it isn’t!

I read a great post about why paper.li is spam, even if it is a non-traditional form. There is plenty of great content out there to share and retweet. Overall I like the concept of being able to put your favorite articles in one location to share with your followers, but I think the paper.li execution is a bit of a #fail.

Tweet me, tag me, tell me…how do you talk to people?

* This is a re-post of the guest post I wrote for The Inspiring Bee

Lauren MacEwen and David MacEwen talking

How do you talk to people?

When people are getting into Twitter and Facebook , they usually want to know: How do you talk to people?

This might sound like a beginner question, but it really isn’t.  Whether you are a business or an individual, this is an issue you will struggle with throughout your social media life.

So, how do you talk to people?

Learning how to use social media is more than just posting an occasional update on Twitter or Facebook.  Let’s look at some tips to make sure you are reaching your audience, starting conversations, meeting people and adding value.

  • Do you have a voice?
    You need to know what your voice is going to be. Are you Personal? Professional? Advisor? Jovial? Cynical? Are you centering this on yourself or your business? Finding your voice is central to your branding and an important key to talking with people.
  • Are you posting at the time of day your audience is on Twitter or Facebook?
    You want to make sure that your extremely valuable opinion is being expressed when your audience is online. Make sure you are active when you audience is active.
  • Are you reaching your audience?
    Do you know who your audience is? Peers? Potential clients? Topical blog readers? Shoppers?  Who are you trying to reach – and are you talking to them?  Many times I have seen people with good Twitter followings, but when they are trying to reach potential clients they are only talking to peers. Then they wonder why they don’t get leads.
  • Talk to your audience
    So you found your audience, but are you talking to them? Reach out and do not be afraid to make the first step. If you are on Twitter, mention them in a tweet. If you are on Facebook, comment on an interesting wall post or post a “Nice to meet you” on their wall.  All you need to do is reach out, and most likely the person will respond. And if they don’t? Don’t give up on one try. Reach out again.  Even if you don’t reach them, you might reach some of their followers.

Twitter

  • Hashtags will get you in.
    Hashtags (a pound sign next to a keyword or topic, e.g.#business) let people searching for a specific topic easily find tweets about that topic. They are a great way to join in on a conversation.  If you are posting about a topic, research the tags being used for that topic and use them.  Even if you are not responding to someone else’s tweet, someone might see yours and begin a conversation.  This is great for finding a topic-related audience.
  • Retweeting
    Retweeting is a great way to start an exchange. If you see something you like, retweet it and share it with your followers.  Most likely the person will thank you for the retweet, and this opens up the opportunity for a chat.
  • Join the conversation
    If someone asks a question and you know the answer to it, tweet them the answer. If someone is having a discussion that is interesting, jump right in. If they didn’t want people to participate, they would not be having it publicly. Instead of doing just a simple retweet, do a retweet with a comment like “Great post” or “Interesting, did you also like….”. Comments like this will help foster discussion.

Facebook

  • Go Like pages!
    Find pages you like and are compatible with your social media goals; networking, branding, sales, clients, peer relations. Go out and be generous with Liking other pages. After all, it doesn’t cost you anything but it can bring you benefits. After you Like them, post something on the wall, even if it is a simple hello.
  • Tag Tag Tag
    Tagging people in a post is the best way to passively network.  To tag someone, all you have to do is type @ and then their name, or the name of a page.  This will put a link to the person or page in your post.  By tagging, not only are you linking to them, but your post will also appear on their wall.  Now all their friends and fans can see your post and you might get some new friends/fans.  It is also a great way to casually introduce someone to your friends/fans, which is usually highly appreciated by the person you tagged.
  • Join the conversation
    Hop on your newsfeed and see what your friends and favorite pages are posting, then comment on their posts. Everyone likes interactions on their posts, so why not interact?  If you see a lot of comments, then definitely join in the conversation. Add something to the discussion, or comment about the original post. Your comment goes out to every person who commented or Liked the post before you. The networking opportunities are amazing!

Lauren MacEwenLauren MacEwen is a social media strategist and avid blogger. She focuses on engagement marketing, a style of marketing designed to help you reach and communicate with your target audience. She has blogged extensively about social media, and often speaks about blogging and social media strategy.

Follow her on Twitter @laurencubed Find her on Facebook

Read her blog at www.smcubedconsulting.com

Tweeting for Good – Engage the Crowd (pt. 2)

Part 2 of Tweeting for Good (Read Part 1: Tweet to be Retweeted)

Tweep Killer

Are you killing your tweets? Instead of engaging your tweeps are you shunning them?

The test

Any Twitter user should take this test:

1.     Click on your profile and look at a list of your tweets. What is the ratio of replies and retweets to ones you have written?

2.     When was the last time your CEO tweeted a picture of her dog?

Many non-profit organizations miss the point of Twitter as social media. Their profile timelines are merely a list of bland, often vague headlines and links to websites or videos. This type of usage merely turns Twitter into a list of PSAs and makes them a boring follow. And in the Twitterverse, boring = ignored.

By following a few principles, any charitable organization (or any tweeter) can greatly increase their influence.

#TEAMFOLLOWBACK

One of the beauties of Twitter is that it is very easy to connect and to say thank you. With a click of a “follow” button, you immediately have the attention of most users. If a legitimate Twitter account follows your organization, follow them back. How do you track following such a large number of people?  Organize them into lists.

Participate in the rise of “Crowdfunding”

Joe Brewer from “Chaotic Ripple” states that “crowd funding is a community-engagement process between an individual or organization seeking money to create something new, and a crowd of supporters who want to participate in the effort in a meaningful way .” Organizations such as 33 Needs and Donors Choose are turning “large numbers of small donations into big bucks.”

I hear many enterprises claim that they simply don’t have time for Twitter. It would delight me if this was a new attitude for these NPO leaders, related to just technology — but it’s not. As a volunteer, board member and employee I have worked with countless organizations that have always kissed the feet of potential large donors while ignoring their grassroots base.

In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, 75% of giving to charitable organizations was by individuals with single donations averaging around $150.  Social media such as Twitter present an unprecedented opportunity to engage large numbers of individual donors, particularly the Millennials and Generations X and Y.  We want our $150 to change the world. If a prominent activist talks back to a tweep, even just “Thx for the RT!”,  that tweep feels empowered.

Your daily Twitter habits should be to schedule and space out broadcast tweets about your organization and then replying to or retweeting any mentions you may have a few times a day. This has been covered in-depth elsewhere. In the article, “Where do you find time to tweet?” see how Aaron Lee engages a large number of Twitter followers during his busy day as a student and entrepreneur.

Say “Thank you” (or Thx or TU)

When someone retweets, replies or mentions your Twitter handle in a positive way, they are giving an endorsement of your organization. Think of the followers retweeting and mentioning  you as micro-blogging volunteers. Your volunteers would not stay engaged for very long with acknowledgement, and neither will your supporters on Twitter.

One of these “crowdfunding” organizations is Global Giving, a website where anyone can organize a fund to benefit projects anywhere in the world.  Since 2002, 179,303 donors have given $41,625,501 to 3,832 projects.  A look at Global Giving’s Twitter feed illustrates the best practices in community engagement.

One of Global Giving’s supporters, Cheap Ass Gamer, offered to match donations to Global Giving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund up to $10,000 and met that goal in just two days. How many hours has your organization spent courting known potential $20,000 donors?  If they call, most likely you drop everything and answer. If a gaming forum administrator named @CheapyD follows you, you’d best be following him back.

Make it fun

One reason I’m addicted to Twitter is because I spend so much time laughing while I’m using it.  Usually, this occurs when I’m tweeting back and forth with everyday, ordinary individuals like myself, or reading tweets from my new favorite follow @BronxZoosCobra, the escaped snake that is now micro-blogging about his visits to destinations throughout New York City.

Crowdrise, another site where individuals can sponsor any charitable project, has the stated goal of making “fundraising so fun and addicting that everyone wants to do more of it. The power of the crowd is real, lots of small donations really do add up, and the Crowdrise community can have a monumental impact on causes around the world.” Crowdrise gives away a T-shirt a day on Facebook and Twitter and encourages users to send in pictures of themselves in Crowdrise gear but are “required to have seen ‘The Big Lebowski’ at least nineteen times.” @CrowdRise makes an interesting follow on Twitter and always says thank you.

Ultimately – it’s personal

Twitter is an important tool for engaging a large number of supporters on a personal level.  In less than 140 characters, you can immediately thank someone for their support. It is this personal engagement that turns followers into avid supporters. Twitter can be a fun medium, a break from stuffy galas and board meetings. So go ahead and let your tweeps get to know you: tweet a cute picture of your dog. Make sure you mention @ipaddenver or @twilidiot so I’ll be sure to see it. I’ll retweet — and I won’t be the only one.


Gretchen VaughnProfessionally, Gretchen Vaughn is a social media enthusiast and writes about the iPad for Examiner. She can be contacted on Twitter @ipaddenver or at  ipaddenver@gmail.com.

Personally, Gretchen is an avid Twilighter and conducts the Twilidiot’s Tuesday Twilight Trivia on Twitter contest. Follow @twilidiot from 9-11p ET to play. After connecting on Twitter through a mutual adoration of actor Robert Pattinson, she and @MelbieToast created designs to raise funds for relief organizations working in Japan. Please visit their store at www.cafepress.com/tweetforgood.

Tweet for Good: Tweet to be Retweeted

Pray For Japan Twitter LoveWith 500,000 new accounts each day, Twitter has the ability to spread news and goodwill at a rate never seen before. Especially for smaller non-profits, Twitter is an inexpensive and important way to gain name recognition, new supporters and raise funds.  News about tsunami warnings and wildfire evacuations can be communicated quickly and widely.  “Power Tweeter” ?uestlove (@questlove) of the Roots band told Billboard: “Twitter is the modern-day Paul Revere. Its ripple effect is faster and more effective than almost any type of ad.”

Unfortunately, many agencies and news sources are making it difficult for their followers to “Tweet for Good.”  Long tweets, broken links and confusing headlines can prevent your good – or even essential  — messages from being retweeted by your 1000 followers to their 300 who then pass it on to their 86 or 86,000.  A few simple tweaks can greatly improve your retweet rate.

Shorter, shorter, SHORTER!

Use characters in a tweet as you would any other scarce resource – sparingly.  Ideally, any tweet will have leftover characters to accommodate “RT @Handle” and a comment by anyone who retweets.  The native Twitter apps do simple retweets that do not add information but other clients will add RT @handle in front of the tweet.  Even the official Twitter iPad app has an option to “quote tweet” and add a comment to the retweet.

Also, when a tweeter has to modify the retweet to make it fit 140 characters, it creates a “duplicate tweet” which, according to the official Twitter blog, “buries important content in search results.”  So they request, “If you want to spread information by retweeting, please use the official retweet command on Twitter desktop site, mobile web site and smart phone clients.”  Is this a realistic request from Twitter?  With the widespread usage of TweetDeck, Hootsuite and Tweetcaster, it probably is not.  Therefore, you need to shorten tweets so they can be spread like wildfire.

Recently, the Colorado Front Range has experienced several wildfires.  The Red Cross, Jefferson County Sheriff and local news outlets put out the information that local schools and homes were being evacuated.  All of them had tweets too long to for someone to simply hit a retweet button and stay within 140 characters.  Here are two revisions:

RT @RedCrossDenver: Opening 2 separate evacuation points: pts Evergreen HS for #evergreenfire & First United Methodist Church, 1500 Ford St, for #Goldenfire

RT @KWGNDenver #EvergreenFire Burgundy Middle School, Burgundy Valley and Evergreen Middle School parents need to come and pick up their children

“Middle School” could also be shortened to “MS”. KWGN Denver Channel 2 News has 1,424 followers and only two officially retweeted that tweet.  Anyone using a mobile device is especially unlikely to take the time to edit the tweet before passing it on.  Here we see an incredible loss of potential for communicating the information on a wider scale.

Before sending a tweet, write carefully and proofread.  Is every single word and letter absolutely necessary? Is there an abbreviation commonly used that would work?  Are you spelling out the word “and” instead of using an “&”?

Use URL shorteners

There are several excellent URL shorteners.  The shortening site Bit.ly can be accessed from the Web and now has a mobile device site I use on my iPad.  Bit.ly also works automatically in the Twitter client TweetDeck.  Set up a bit.ly account, link to it in TweetDeck and you’re done!  Whenever you write a tweet and paste in a URL, TweetDeck shortens it automatically to a bit.ly address.  Bit.ly tracks clicks so you can analyze how effective your tweets have been in driving traffic to your website or YouTube channel.

One exception to this rule may be if your site’s URL is already short and descriptive, e.g. crashjapan.com.

Write compelling and informative tweets

Think of each tweet you send as a headline.  Funny or urgent tweets are those most likely to be retweeted.  You don’t want to turn your tweets into a scavenger hunt.  It should be clear to any reader what you’re communicating before clicking on a link.  Sometimes a little specificity is all that is needed as in this example from CRASH Japan:

RT @LoveonJapan: Project Black Out Beret: An auction to help thousands of earthquake and tsunami victims in northern Japan – http://bit.ly/fBbIAD #loj #Japan (157 characters on the retweet)

The tweet tells me what I already know: that there were thousands of earthquake and tsunami victims in northern Japan.  But I don’t know what “Project Black Out Beret” is. With “Operation Odyssey” on the brain, the Green Berets are the first thing that comes to my mind.

My rewrite:

RT @LoveonJapan: Project Black Out Beret: An auction of hand knit berets to help victims in Japan – http://bit.ly/fBbIAD #loj #Japan

An interesting variation could be:

RT @LoveonJapan What do you do during 3-hr blackouts? Knit berets! Project Black Out Beret auction to help Japan: http://bit.ly/fBbIAD #loj #Japan

Each tweet should be a single message.  If you have a lot to say, break it down into 100 character, bite-sized pieces.  A good rule of thumb is “One Tweet – One URL – One Message.”

For more ideas on writing headlines, see the How-to Twitter article “How to Write Tweets that Get Clicks.”

Just ask

Once you have written a tweet that is easy to retweet, ask your followers to spread the word.  Actor and Twitter stand-up comedian George Takei (@georgetakei – 67,143 followers) does this on a regular basis:

@GeorgeTakei Please take a moment to watch then RT this video about the spirit of “Gaman” in Japan. http://ow.ly/4i0nQ

@GeorgeTakei What’s next, an app that converts Jews or whitens blacks? Pls read, sign & RT this petition. http://bit.ly/hMzDA6

Twitter stops counting after the first 100 official retweets.

Around the world 24/7

A retweetable message will travel far and wide, and at times that you would not even anticipate:

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Take your inspiration from Longfellow but please tweet in 100 characters or less.

This is part 1 of a 2 part blog series. Make sure you read Part 2: Engage the Crowd.


Gretchen VaughnProfessionally, Gretchen Vaughn is a social media enthusiast and writes about the iPad for Examiner.  She can be contacted on Twitter @ipaddenver or ipaddenver@gmail.com.

Personally, Gretchen is an avid Twilighter and conducts the Twilidiot’s Tuesday Twilight Trivia on Twitter contest.  Follow @twilidiot from 9-11p ET to play.  After connecting on Twitter through a mutual adoration of actor Robert Pattinson, she and @MelbieToast created designs to raise funds for relief organizations working in Japan.  Please visit their store at www.cafepress.com/tweetforgood.

How to handle a Tweetastrophy: Chrysler’s real problem

Tweetastrophy: Lauren MacEwen being carried away by the Twitter birds

Do you know what to do in a Tweetastrophy?

Dropping the F-bomb in a tweet last week was a big mistake, but the biggest blunder was the insult to their entire consumer base and supporting community. Twitter happens in a split second. The longer we use it, and the more people become familiar with it, the more forgiving we become.  There are more than 20 million people on Twitter and most of us have said something that we regretted, sometimes as soon as we hit Tweet.  But just like the lesson learned from the Red Cross, a bad tweet does not have to be a damaging tweet. Ultimately it is how you manage the fall out.

But what if the tweet is more than a momentary slip up? What if the tweet is actually something that would get you fired if you said it in the Boardroom?  Or if you lost a sale because you said it to a customer?  What if a bad tweet is a true Tweetastrophy? That is the issue  Chrysler is facing.

Take immediate action

If you a damaging tweet goes out, do not sit on it.  Limit the damage by limiting exposure.

  • Delete: Though the tweet will still be in news feeds, it will no longer be on your profile. So any lookey-loo who wants to see what was said will not be able to, unless they saw the original or saw a retweet.
  • Apologize: Always say you are sorry.  You do not have to make it an epic apology, sometimes that can make a mountain out of a mole hill. But you do want to say you are sincerely sorry for the offensive tweet.
  • Retract Retract Retract: Let people know you have deleted the tweet and inform them of subsequent actions.  You have apologized, now let them know what you are doing to correct the situation.
  • Do Not DM Everyone: You might be tempted to send a personal apology to everyone who follows you. There is a good chance that most people who follow you did not see the tweet. If you DM them, you will be telling them you did something wrong and essentially encourage them to seek out the bad tweet so they can see it for themselves.  It is better to make your apology on a tweet and send selective DMs.
  • Do not respond to everything: You cannot ignore all responses, but you do not need to respond to all of them. If you have any retweets or mentions that are really dire, then respond personally to those and keep it private. Send a personal apology by DM.  However, if people are just talking smack, do not respond. The more you respond the more you will spin the drama.  The quickest way to get people to move on is not to dwell. If you hyper-focus on the issue, so will your fans.
  • Respond appropriately: Although you do not need to respond to everything, you cannot ignore everything either. If anyone expresses hurt or offense vocally, send them a private message.  If someone is publicly challenging, address the matter privately.  The best you can do is apologize and let people know you have taken immediate action.