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WHAT’S THE USE OF TWITTER

12 Jan

I’m new to Twitter and a little suspicious of what it can actually and practically do to make working or personal life better. But I have been using it for three months now and thought I’d share some of what I’ve learnt. Most of it is common sense. I decided to set up a non-professional account first as it would be an easy and comfortable way of learning. I put up a new novel on Amazon KDP in October 2011 and used this as my Twitter starting point. I ran that for a couple of months and built up a little following. Then when I felt comfortable enough to engage with other career advisors and professionals, I set about developing a work account. Below is some of the stuff I’ve learned. Thanks to all those that have followed, re-tweeted, mentioned and engaged in discussion or exchanging of information.

WHEN USING TWITTER FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT

DO’s

  • Listen to what people in your area of professional expertise are saying – observe how they interact
  • Share resources – be helpful
  • Connect with fellow professionals / business links – lists – who to follow – Network!
  • Raise discussion / promote debate on issues that people can engage with comfortably
  • Use Twitter to get feedback on a particular issue
  • Use Twitter to raise your professional profile or the profile of your business or organisation
  • Use Twitter to source resources
  • Words to remember – Connection / engagement / respect / curiosity / Prudent Humour
  • Think local / think national / think global
  • Do remember the eyes of the world are potentially on you – Twitter can be a time to shine – but also to corpse, plank, bottle, make a complete fool of yourself
  • Remember in business – quantity does not equal quality. Keep  your list / lists lean and make sure they work for you
  • Use those same instincts and sixth senses about people that serve you well in to real world when you are on Twitter. If somebody you have no link to, that has no followers, and whose profile says ‘call me. Let’s take it from there,’ starts to follow you, chances are you should ignore them and report any problem.

Just my opinion here but much of what happens on the internet and on Twitter specifically falls into two simple categories – the good and the bad. Engage with the good – professional, hard-working, serious, generous, beneficial, intellectually challenging and constructive tweeters. Ignore the bad – the rude, show offs, shoddy, lazy, unhelpfully negative and those simply tweeting to blow their own twumpets.

DON’TS

  • Forget your reasons for using Twitter as a business / educational / networking tool
  • Use Twitter to snipe at people or grind axes in an unreasonable, inappropriate or abusive way
  • Make humorous comments at other people’s expense
  • Use Twitter to hurt or exclude people
  • Swear
  • Share personal experiences excessively. The contents of your belly button are not usually a subject of global interest
  • Be conned by the idea of breaking down boundaries. Sometimes, and especially in the world of work, boundaries can be there for very good reasons – ie self preservation, mutual respect, avoidance of misunderstanding. It’s worth remembering the old ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ rule when engaged in any form of social media.
  • Mix business with pleasure. It’s quite common on Twitter to have a number of accounts or alternatively lists. One option is to run a fun account that ties into your hobby or leisure activities and the people you enjoy following. Then you can run another that is business related. You can also operate different lists on the same principle.
  • Use Twitter excessively to market your product. Tweeting fifty times a day that you have just published yet another scintillating new novel on Amazon KDP will not result in any great increase in sales or the type of followers you want to attract. It will annoy and may result in people unfollowing you.
  • Panic if a peculiar tweeter starts following you – you can report them if a nuisance arises but most just go away when ignored
  • Mistake late night familiarity from someone like Charlie Sheen for friendship or even connection.

COMMON COURTESY

  • Say thanks for the follow / the retweet / the favourite – I’m told this becomes impossible once you have a few thousand followers. But good manners costs nothing and is almost always appreciated. So do it while you can.
  • Acknowledge someone else’s work where ever possible by using RT = retweet or a direct reference
  • Reply to comments and connects and mentions as much as possible
  • Remember people are busy, may have painful stuff going on in their lives that you can never know about, so always show respect. A wise person once said In all your dealings with people, you should factor in that they may be suffering in a way you will never see or know or comprehend. Then take them as they are and find a way to make your connection with them work to the benefit of all.

I began my Twitter journey three months ago. Since then I have gone from being vehemently anti-Twitter to a point where I now recognise the opportunities for professional connectedness and sharing of resources. I mistakenly thought it was all about celebrities tweeting about the mundanities of their lives and loudly proclaiming the end of / beginning of various affairs. But I have found it to be a useful and efficient means of networking with co-professionals and keeping up with developments in my particular field. I have learned a great deal and connected with some truly inspiring career professionals across a broad spectrum of interests.

I wonder if anyone else has similar views on the subject of Twitter. Some of the content of this blog may be blindingly obvious. But it would be interesting to get a little feedback or additional Do’s & Don’ts for those of us not all that familiar with the use of social media as a tool in the work place.

©Mary Hosty January 12th 2012