via: Jeff Turner
Twitter is an open, free and seemingly endless source of information on every topic, in every language. It’s a great place for PR pros to meet, greet and Tweet with like-minded individuals, companies and influencers around the world, and an equally valuable source to gain insights. Through the years Twitter has become my open-source classroom, sounding board and travel advisory – essentially a 24/7 online networking event that’s only limited by its 140 characters at a time.
Twitter has become my addiction and a passion that has helped our Toronto-based PR agency, Strategic Objectives, become Canada’s most award winning PR agency, while also reinforcing my belief in the power of PR in the ever-evolving social and digital world.
Based on what I’ve learned, over five years swimming in the stream, here are my TOP 10 Tips for PR Pros on Twitter.
1. Define Your Voice
Whether you’re just starting out on Twitter, or a seasoned veteran, you must always be sure to carefully define your social persona, since it shows the world what type of person and Tweeter you are. Your bio, avatar, Tweets and the people you follow and befriend define you in the social sphere. Here are a few things to remember when defining your voice:
- In my humble opinion (IMHO), your avatar should be a picture perfect head shot you’d be proud to attach to your resume.
- Make sure your bio is completely filled out, truthful and authentic. It should identify your interests – both professional and personal, and must be TOTALLY typo-free.
- Tweet good stuff! Whether it’s themed, random, or focused, you need interesting content to entertain and engage your friends and followers. Your voice should have authority and intent.
- Go beyond simply retweeting quotes, other people’s ideas, posts and opinions. Get out there and express yourself, have conversations.
2. Build Your Community.
One of the best things about Twitter is meeting new people, but there are not enough hours in the day to befriend everyone, including the bots, who follow me. Here are a few things to look for, before following new Twitter friends:
- Check out their avatar, read their bio, and review their Tweets to see what you’ll find in their stream. Bots are often easily identifiable, and avoidable, by their egg avatars and blank bios.
Original-style retweets, with the via attribution, are a way to show someone you respect and appreciate their content. Revising the headline, adding a fact, or commenting on their link will draw attention, and presents the opportunity for you to create meaningful, two-way dialogue.Here are a few questions you should ask before following someone:
- What do they Tweet about?
- Do they Tweet on a regular basis?
- Do they give attribution credit where credit is due?
- What type of content do they provide? Are they selling or engaging?
- Is this someone I would like to know in real life?
- Do they RT and/or engage with me?
3. Engagement and Engaging with Key Influencers
Engaging and befriending key influencers is a great way to build your own credibility and influence. You can find influencers by searching hashtags, top trends, and by using Twitter’s advanced search tool. Once you’ve discovered Tweeps who share content that interests you, engage them in conversation. Ask a question, make a comment, RT or fave. Why not make it your mission to generate a conversation with at least one new key influencer a week? This interaction will help build your Twitter community.
4. Use Twitter Lists
Creating and/or following Twitter lists, or “Twitlists” as I like to call them, will help you organize users by subject matter such as #cmo, #custserv, #SOcialceo. I am a strong advocate of Twitlists because:
- They help me identify and organize groups of highly-qualified sector experts without having to follow them all on a daily basis, in my main stream.
- They’ve become my own custom-tailored focus groups that help me track hot new trends, social HOW TOs, news and information.
- They allow me to follow lists created by people and social experts I admire, with the click of a button, no muss no fuss.
I’ve been lucky to be included on several high power lists since I joined Twitter five years ago, and follow them religiously to see what my esteemed colleagues in the marketing universe are obsessing over at any given moment. Please check out @TomPick’s Nifty 50 Twitlist of Top Women on Twitter 2014,here, for a good example.
At Strategic Objectives, we’re fascinated by social leadership, which is why we created and continue to curate our first-ever, comprehensive list of Social CEO’s on Twitter. Our list started with 60 brave souls two years ago, and now features more than 300 CEOs from around the world. You can follow the Twitlist here to see what the most powerful socialites in business are up to, at any time, day or night.
5. P2P: Person to Person
As I’ve stressed before, Twitter is about learning, sharing and generosity. That’s why it’s SO important to credit the author, and to give an HT (hat tip), RT (retweet) or S/O (shout out) to the peeps whose content you’re sharing. It’s a small but meaningful gesture. It’s also important to remember that social community building is about reciprocity, and that Twitter works best when you engage in P2P, person-to-person, interaction. Here are a few suggestions on how to create connections:
- Keep your Tweets positive and to the point.
- Be responsive. Keep the convo going, ask questions, and give answers in a timely way.
- Thank people for retweets and mentions, daily.
6. Participate In Twitter Chats
More than 600 Twitter chats, or Twitchats, take place in the Twitterverse every week. They are organized and attended by large or small groups of like-minded people who regularly gather around a hashtag to discuss specific topics ranging from marketing, to food, fashion, social etiquette and beyond. Twitchats are the perfect opportunity to meet and engage with influencers. Rather than lurking, listening and simply RTing, I strongly recommend you step up and voice your thoughts on the subject at hand. No one will ever know you’re there unless you speak up!
It’s easy and appreciated when you retweet an ‘A HA’ moment shared by the chat’s guest star; and it’s always a good idea to thank the Twitchat moderator and key participants you found helpful, at the end of the chat, to make yourself known.
Your continued participation in weekly chats will establish your cred, make your voice heard, make friends, and you might even meet someone you’d like to collaborate with, or hire in the future. In fact, I’ve met several current Strategic Objectives teammates online, through social participation, long before we ever met in person.
Joining Twitchats was one of the best moves I made when I joined Twitter. Some of my favourites are #MMChat, Marketer Monday chat that takes place every Monday at 8PM ET, starring marcom pros from around the world. As an agency owner, I also find it useful to participate in #B2Bchat on Thursdays nights at 8PM ET, where I find valuable info to help grow our business.
7. Make It Real
One of the greatest benefits of participating on Twitter is establishing real, solid relationships. Always remember, there’s a real person behind that Twitter handle, so be sure to extend your connections into real life and meet up, in person, whenever possible. I’ve participated in numerous speaking engagements, where I’ve been lucky to meet some great Tweeple IRL, like the 140 Montreal Conference, where I created a Twitlist of participants so I could continue our real world friendships, online.
When I’m travelling to foreign destinations I often advance Tweet that I’ll be visiting NYC, Amsterdam, or Ho Chi Minh City, so I can arrange in-person meetings. Through the years, I’ve met-up with several individuals I got to know on Twitter, and made real world friends.
8. Recruitment and job opportunities
Twitter is also a great place to meet and greet potential employees and I consider it to be an excellent recruitment tool, since it attracts the right kind of people for our agency – communicators who engage, share, and have that certain “je ne c’est quoi.” Our @SO_pr Twitter handle is now a go-to destination for people looking for exciting, meaningful and creative jobs in Public Relations and Social PR.
9. Sharing and Amplifying Client News
When I see great, positive media coverage about our clients I want to tell the world, and Twitter is a great place to support your clients by promoting and sharing their positive third-party, earned media coverage. It’s also an excellent place to show journalists a little love by giving a byline/@mention credit for their story, media outlet or blog. We PR pros use a microphone at events to speak with large crowds. Think of Twitter as a massive virtual microphone, amplified a million times, for global social spread.
10. Don’t Feed the Trolls
As a practicing PR pro I can tell you, there will always be a Negative Nancy with his/her heart set on raining on your parade. In the social world we call them Trolls – people who seem hell bent on making you feel bad, and ruining your day, even though you’ve likely never met.
There are two ways to deal with Trolls: you can ignore and unfollow, or engage and get them on your side. I personally use both methods, but the most satisfying solution is the latter. I suggest meeting your Troll in the real world, offline, and neutralizing them with good fellowship whenever possible.
This leads to my final tip; it’s always better to make friends than enemies.
To wrap up, my best advice for PR pros looking to get the most out of Twitter is to get out there and be part of the action. Engage in conversation, share content, and don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Here is my 4H Club for PR pros participating on Twitter:
Be Honest | Be Human | Be Humble | Be Helpful
Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!
Deborah Weinstein is a member of the PRSA Counselors Academy Executive Committee and co-founder, partner and president of Toronto-based PR agency, Strategic Objectives, Canada’s most award-winning PR agency. The firm delivers smart ideas and better solutions to many of the world’s leading brands. , and is IABC/Toronto PR Agency of the Year 2014, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Named to the PR News Top 10 CSR Agency A-List, Strategic Objectives is the only Canadian firm to receive the exclusive United Nations Grand Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Relations. The agency employs more than 40 top public relations professionals, in addition to associates across Canada and PR partner firms around the world. Deborah is hyper-active on Twitter @debweinstein.