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The Art of the Tweet Tease

TV and other news organizations are skilled at using “teasers” to entice interest in a particular story and get readers or viewers to click or tune in. It works!  So when you tweet for yourself, your business or your brand, you should aspire to do the same. The result will be a higher headcount of people who read, react to and retweet your content.

Sadly, too many tweets are simply trash.  In fact, research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Georgia Tech (cleverly named “Who Gives a Tweet?”) shows that Twitter users only consider 36% of the tweets they see to be worthwhile.  About 39% are thought to be marginal, while a quarter of all tweets are considered totally worthless.

Tackiest Types of Tweets

Most people consider mood or location updates to be the tackiest types of tweets. On the flip side, what people like best are tweets that share valuable, insight tips and information, including links to more extensive content posted elsewhere.  To leverage the appetite for the latter – and avoid tweet trouble at the same time – try taking the teaser tack.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. A teaser is a carefully crafted sentence, phrase or headline that “hooks” readers into wanting more.Taking a little time to write these will pay off in bigger response.
  2. Be sure to provide a link to the location of the content that will satisfy the curiosity you’ve just piqued.
  3. The idea is to provide enough substance to attract attention, but not give away the news or the “punch line” in the tweet itself. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo once told me, “A great tweet is a caption for something bigger.”

Teasers that pose a provocative question are one proven way to go.  @GuyKawasaki, who has 1.2 million Twitter followers, is a master at crafting teaser type tweets, including many that are questions. They are usually very short – barely half the allotted 140 characters – and usually include a link.

What to Watch Out For

Teasers are powerful when used right, but can also hurt you in the long term if used badly. A few tips:

  • Avoid over-promising in your teaser.  If the “payoff” for the person who takes your tease is unfulfilling, they are less likely to bite the next time.  By making sure the content at the other end of the tease is high quality, you’ll get the response you seek.
  • Also try to tweet about news that’s as fresh as possible (and hasn’t already been tweeted a billion times by everyone else); provide enough context around your tweet so people understand what it’s about; and don’t over-do the use of #hashtags.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.  Follow @140Main

The Right Way to Retweet

Let’s start with two key assumptions: 1) Twitter is a great way to build business so you should be using it, and; 2) Part of doing so is retweeting other people’s tweets that you think are worth sharing. But while most people simply use Twitter’s built-in RT function (one of the basic engagement options offered at the bottom of every tweet), it leaves much to be desired.

First off, the standard RT is static, which means you can’t modify it, include your own comment or tell your followers why you deemed this particular item retweet-worthy. You simply pass it along “as-is” and the other person’s photo or image appears in your tweet stream as if they’d tweeted directly to your followers (aside from the little green triangle and arrow in the upper right indicated it’s a RT).  What’s more, the person you retweeted might not even notice that you made the RT unless they regularly check the “Connect” tab on Twitter which lists RTs and other interactions. In short, this leaves much of the potential value of retweeting off the table.

A Better Way to Retweet

Fortunately there’s a better — if slightly more time-consuming way — to do RTs. It boils down to doing the process manually rather than relying on Twitter’s quick-and-easy RT icon.

It’s simple and works like this:

1. Copy the tweet you want to RT and paste it into your own “New Tweet” box.

2. Add to the very beginning: RT @________ (the person’s twitter handle) and then the remainder of their tweet. If it’s really short you can simply add your own (very) brief comment or “thank you” before (preferred) or after the original tweet text. The same process works even if you use an outside service to schedule your tweets. Some even have an edit tool that helps you do this quickly.

3. If it’s long, you may have to edit a bit, eliminating unnecessary words while taking great care not to alter the essence or meaning of the original tweet. You can also use an ellipse (…) to indicate gaps where words have been left out. When a retweet has been modified in this fashion, some people start it out with MT (for modified tweet) rather than RT

4. If there was a link in the original tweet, make sure it still works (sometimes they break in the copy-and-paste process)

5. Send your tweet.

NOTE:  One possible, but relatively minor downside comes fro Klout and Kred. These social influence scorekeepers include retweets as one small factor among many determining your outreach activity, so to the extent they don’t recognize your modified RTs as “official” Twitter RTs, you’d lost a little ground. But you can still do some RTs the regular way, and besides, the advantages you gain by retweeting this way would greatly outweigh this.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.  Follow @140Main

Use a Tweet Tease to Boost Response on Twitter

TV and other news organizations are skilled at using “teasers” to entice interest in a particular story and get readers or viewers to click or tune in. And when you tweet for yourself or your business, you should aspire to do the same. The result will be a higher headcount of people who read, react to and retweet your content.

Too many tweets are simply trash.  In fact, research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Georgia Tech (cleverly named “Who Gives a Tweet?”) shows that Twitter users only consider 36% of the tweets they see to be worthwhile.  About 39% are thought to be marginal, while a quarter of all tweets are considered totally worthless.

Tackiest Types of Tweets

Most people consider mood or location updates to be the tackiest types of tweets.  On the flip side, what people like best are tweets that share valuable, insight tips and information, including links to more extensive content posted elsewhere.  To leverage the appetite for the latter – and avoid tweet trouble at the same time – try taking the teaser tack.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. A teaser is a carefully crafted sentence, phrase or headline that “hooks” readers into wanting more.Taking a little time to write these will pay off in bigger response.
  2. Be sure to provide a link to the location of the content that will satisfy the curiosity you’ve just piqued.
  3. The idea is to provide enough substance to attract attention, but not give away the news or the “punch line” in the tweet itself. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo once told me, “A great tweet is a caption for something bigger.”

Teasers that pose a provocative question are one proven way to go.  @GuyKawasaki, who has 1.2 million Twitter followers, is a master at crafting teaser type tweets, including many that are questions. They are usually very short – barely half the allotted 140 characters – and usually include a link.

What to Watch Out For

Teasers are powerful when used right, but can also hurt you in the long term if used badly. A few tips:

  • Avoid over-promising in your teaser.  If the “payoff” for the person who takes your tease is unfulfilling, they are less likely to bite the next time.  By making sure the content at the other end of the tease is high quality, you’ll get the response you seek.
  • Also try to tweet about news that’s as fresh as possible (and hasn’t already been tweeted a billion times by everyone else); provide enough context around your tweet so people understand what it’s about; and don’t over-do the use of #hashtags.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.  Follow @140Main

Twitter to Offer Small Business Ads

Starting later this year, any U.S.-based small business will be able to advertise on Twitter using a new self-service ad platform for two ad products to called “Promoted Tweets” and “Promoted Accounts.”

The first small businesses to use the program, however, will be selected through a new partnership between Twitter and American Express, a deal that initially makes it easy for small business owners to advertise on Twitter.  Amex card members and merchants will be invited to try this new advertising solution before anyone else, and American Express will give $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 eligible businesses to sign up.

If you are an Amex card member or merchant, you can register now to participate in the initial introduction of this new offering via ads.twitter.com/amex.  Twitter will launch this new offering more widely later this year.

Since meeting Twitter CEO Dick Costolo a few weeks ago and hearing about the growth and innovation going on at Twitter, I’m more convinced than ever that this platform has far more social local marketing potential for small businesses than it’s being given credit for. And this move to open things up for advertising will likely put Twitter on the radar for more local businesses.

As the folks at Twitter point out, successful business owners already know how to build good customer relationships.  In fact, local businesses were first to start using Twitter to talk with consumers in real time, which helped demonstrate Twitter’s potential as a marketing platform. Today, some of the most innovative marketing campaigns around come from local businesses. For example, check out the mouth-watering photos of @VanillaMoonBake cupcakes, or the @glennztees Tweet contests meant to promote their latest T-shirt design.

You can sign up here to try this new ad solution on Twitter.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved. 140Main™ is a trademark of BizBest Media.

Twitter CEO on What Makes a Great Tweet

Before I get to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (@dickc), let me tell you about Willy O’Sullivan who owns the Irish pub in my neighborhood. Willy is quite worldly on social media matters and a savvy business person overall, but Twitter confounds him. “I have Twitter, but I have no idea what to do with it,” he says.  “You open it up and it asks me who I want to follow, and I have no idea about that either.”

And Willy, in fact, is a proxy for millions of local business owners who grasp the importance of social media but simply don’t have time to experiment with using it for business purposes.  As new products and platforms are devised to help business owners use social media effectively, the balance will shift, given social media’s power for cost-effective marketing.  While Twitter remains a mystery to many business owners, its popularity is skyrocketing based in part on how simple it is compared to Facebook or Google+.

Costolo is the man leading Twitter’s charge.  He became CEO in 2010 and previously launched and ran several smaller businesses, so he knows what it’s like to take risks, meet payroll and wear multiple hats.  I just met Costolo at a UCLA/Anderson School of Management leadership seminar, courtesy of Dean Judy Olian (@DeanOlian) and entertainment mogul (not to mention owner of NBA’s GS Warriors) Peter Guber (@PeterGuber).   Costolo is super articulate and has great passion for what he does as well as the confidence to lead Twitter to the Promised Land called IPO.  

What Makes a Tweet Great

Since the price of a seat at the table in Olian and Guber’s seminar is a confidentiality pledge, there’s much that can’t be said here of Costolo’s behind-the-scenes revelations, but a couple of things are up for grabs.  In particular, Costolo’s take on “What makes a great tweet” is something everyone business person should know, as it describes effective communication in general.  Costolo didn’t even need 140 characters to say it:  Here it is in a mere 47 characters:  “A great tweet is a caption for something bigger”

Hmmmmm.  “Something bigger.”  That’s where millions of tweets fail every day to pass the greatness test.  If you only have 140 characters to say something, too many tweeters fall into the trap of saying essentially nothing.  You need a “backstory” as they say in the entertainment biz – something that entices people into thinking or looking further. As we’ve said often here at 140Main (our name, of course, derived from Twitter’s 140 character length limit on tweets), the art of tweeting well is to entice and engage followers with useful information.

By thinking of your tweets as “captions” you can stay focused on the bigger “picture” behind what you are saying.  Is there something else you can offer as a link? An idea, tip or thought that can help others see that bigger picture?  If so, your tweets will rise above the noise and gain more attention.

Embrace the 140 length limit. To Dick Costolo, Twitter’s inner beauty lies in that simple constraint and it’s unlikely that will change. In fact, the latest studies show that slightly shorter tweets in the 120-130 range generate the best response.

Follow us @140Main

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

8 Getting Started Twitter Tips for Business

Small business owners, local businesses and startups of all stripes are embracing social media marketing with gusto.  Signups on Facebook and Twitter are soaring.  And why not?  Biz owners see these platforms as free marketing that may be tricky and unknown, but well worth a shot.

After all, when half of local businesses say they’ll spend less than $2,500 on marketing this year, the lure of social media is strong with its relative ease, low cost and low entry barriers.  And while Facebook is king, Twitter has seen tremendous growth from local business owners and professionals who aim to build awareness for their products and services – as well as themselves.

If you’re giving tweets a try, here are some vital tips and strategies to keep you from stubbing your Twitter toe:

  1. To start off right choose a good Twitter name or “handle.”  This could be your own name or your business name, a variation or abbreviation of your name or business name, or a combination.  You should make it easy for others to recognize who you are, and connect you to your business, product or service.  Put your Twitter handle (looks like “@name”) on your website, email signature, business cards, name badge, letterhead and anywhere else potential followers will see it.  Avoid cutesy, random or made-up names that have nothing to do with you or your business.   
  2. Set specific business goals for being on Twitter, and pursue them.  For example, you can use Twitter to help position your name or brand, communicate with customers and prospects, announce events, point to articles, videos or other content on your website.
  3. Hone your profile.  A Twitter account lets you create a brief but highly visible profile, so don’t blow it.  I’ve seen many lame profiles that include mundane personal traits or meaningless information. Worse yet, no profile at all.  Others look like random stacks of keywords.  And many lack a link to a website or blog. Don’t make these mistakes.  Include your company, position, fields of interest, and what you have to offer. Consider it your elevator pitch to attract followers.
  4. Avoid pointless tweets.  Concentrate on providing useful information. Promote things you have on your own website, or point to someone else’s content as a useful or interesting resource.   You will only gain followers if people believe they will enjoy, be informed by or otherwise find value in what you tweet.  Concentrate on specialized knowledge your business has and can share with others.
  5. Search the site.  A great way to get ideas for tweets and find potential followers or folks to follow is to use Twitter Search.   This is a highly effective, but under-used Twitter feature that’s both helpful and free.  Also search for tweets that have mentioned your company or brand.  And btw, while you can be choosy about who you follow on a personal account, when using Twitter for business, be sure to follow back anyone who follows your business.
  6. Make Twitter part of your regular networking.  The old days of simply collecting business cards are over.  Today when you attend meetings, trade shows, lunches or other events, make a point to collect Twitter handles and hand out your own.  Many people now display them on name badges, signage or other prominent places.  To go directly to someone’s Twitter page, just add the name (handle) to the end of the Twitter URL, like this:  www.twitter.com/danielkehrer.  
  7. Hop onto hashtags.  Hashtags are used to organize tweets around categories, themes or topics by adding the pound sign (#) before a word or phrase, like #smallbusiness, #entrepreneurs or #startups.  When you use a hashtag in a tweet, it is automatically posted to that category in addition to your basic tweet stream.
  8. Point people to your website.  Tweets are a great way to get people to visit your website.  Perhaps you have a whitepaper available for download, some interesting photos, a new video or some other type of content.  Don’t be shy. Tweet about it with a link back to your site.  But use a URL shortener to avoid filling your entire tweet with a long link.  Two popular services where you can do this in seconds for free are http://bit.ly and http://ow.ly.

Take it from someone with a perfect TwitterGrader score of 100:  If you do it right, Twitter can pack a powerful marketing punch for almost any business.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

The Future for Small Biz in Social Media

Time.  It’s a little word, but the single biggest roadblock to small business engagement in social media.  Sure, millions of biz owners have embraced social.  But time constraints produce constant dropouts and millions more won’t buy in as long as they believe the time sink outweighs the benefits.

The future, then, may well be a web-based service called Roost – or something like it – which promises to revolutionize social business engagement with free (for now at least) productivity tools that help local biz owners leverage the social web to generate leads and build their businesses efficiently and effectively.

Roost is brand new; barely out of the wrapper.  But its new social marketing platform for Facebook and Twitter solves the nagging problem all business owners face when thinking about social marketing: “What do I post and when do I post it?”

Roost helps biz owners and local professionals plan their social marketing activities in 20 minutes per week. Just set the duration and content types (post, link, quote, etc.) for each social media campaign. Roost automatically provides customized recommendations on post type and frequency to match the length of the campaign and achieve maximum customer and prospect engagement.

Roost’s suggested content feature offers direct access to articles, blogs, quotes and other original content. You can queue up content on a daily or weekly basis from a library of topics related to your type of business.  A feature called The Roost Bar also helps you gain more friends, fans and followers.  When someone views a shared link, a small, branded bar appears above the article and allows audiences to immediately “like” your business Facebook page.

A feature called Roost Circles helps biz owners and individual pros band together with their closest business associates, and by request, share each other’s posts, providing branding and engagement opportunities across each other’s networks. Whether the circle includes employees, favorite customers or vendors, the technology capitalizes on the economically relevant concept that rising tides lift all boats.

Roost was built for the restaurant, CPA or Realtor who can’t devote 10 hours each week to online marketing, says Alex Chang, CEO of Roost. “They know they need to be on Facebook and Twitter, but they aren’t sure what to do or how to start.”  In short, Roost is a service for real business owners who have little to no time, aren’t fully up to speed on all the nuances of social media marketing but who may live and die by referral business.

And best of all, it’s free.

Roost, a venture capital backed startup based in San Francisco, already has about 20,000 small biz professionals using the service.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

A Terrific New Twitter Tool for Business

BizBest 30-Second Solution 

With Twitter use by small and local business soaring, busy biz owners need new and better ways to tweet their way to success.  InboxQ is a new browser plugin that offers business users an efficient way to quickly find and engage Twitter users interested in specific products, brands or topics without having to scroll through endless tweets.  With InboxQ, you can set up a campaign based on specific keywords or tweet quantity and then immediately reply to those targeted tweets that are asking questions related to your business or expertise.  A clothing designer, for example, can easily keep an eye on women looking for a new dress.  In short, InboxQ is an easy way to alert your business of compelling opportunities to engage with prospects, and to use your expertise to help solve a problem and win new customers.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

Tactics to Tackle Twitter in 2011

Over the past two years, awareness of Twitter has zoomed from 5% to 87%, according to research by Social Media Today.  As one of the world’s fastest-growing information networks, Twitter is now being used by millions of people, organizations and businesses to discover and share new ideas. Twitter now claims 370,000 new signups daily and 160 million registered users who create 100 million “Tweets” per day.

As a business, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence or insights, and build relationships with people who care about your company. There may even be conversations about your business already happening on Twitter.

Here are six simple tactics that can help you build a following for your business using Twitter, and gain customer trust:

1. Share inside info: Share photos and behind-the-scenes details about your business. If possible, offer a glimpse of new products, services or events you’re planning. Users come to Twitter to get and share the latest, so giving it to them will help you build a following.

2. Ask. Ask questions of your followers to glean valuable insights and show that you are listening.  This helps start conversations that engage potential customers.

3. Respond. Respond quickly to compliments, questions and other feedback about your business.

4. Reward your customers. Tweet updates about special offers, discounts and time-sensitive deals available at your business.

5. Demonstrate leadership and know-how. You can do this by referencing helpful articles and links that relate to your business category in general.

6. Establish the right voice. Twitter users tend to prefer a direct, genuine and likable tone from a business, so think about your voice as you Tweet. How do you want your business to appear to the Twitter community?

It’s also helpful to know Twitter terminology. Twitter users have developed short-form syntax to make the most of 140 characters (the maximum length of a “Tweet”). Here are 12 you should know:

  • Buttons: Twitter buttons are available in the Goodies tab of your account, and are used to link to Twitter from other websites.
  • Favorite: To “favorite” a Tweet means to mark it as one of your favorites by clicking the yellow star next to the message.
  • Follow: To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their Tweets or updates on the site.
  • Geotagging: You can use location data in Tweets to tell people where you are in real time. This is called “Tweet with Your Location.”
  • Hashtag: Users often attach the # symbol to words in their Tweets to categorize them for others, such as: “Check out our new products for the Fall: http://t.co/link2 #fallsale” Think of hashtags as the theme of your Tweet. Users can then click on a hashtag to see other similarly-themed Tweets and find yours in search.
  • Listed: This means to be included in another Twitter user’s list. Listed numbers and details appear in the statistics at the top of your profile.
  • Mention: Once you’ve signed up and chosen a Twitter username, you and others can mention an account in your Tweets by preceding it with the @ symbol, such as: “Glad your shipment arrived @janesmith!”
  • Message: If you want to privately Tweet to a particular user who’s already following you, start your Tweet with DM or D to direct-message them, such as: “DM @joesmith234 what is your order number?”
  • Promoted Tweets: These are Tweets that selected businesses have paid to promote at the top of search results on Twitter.
  • Reply: A Tweet posted in reply to another user’s message, usually posted by clicking the “reply” button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Always begins with @username.
  • Retweet: When you see a Tweet by another user that you want to share, click Retweet below it to forward it to your followers instantly.
  • URL Shortener: URL shorteners are used to turn long URLs into shorter URLs.
Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.