Twitter and the art of engagement

Liz Strauss on Twitter

I’ve seen people and companies use Twitter in a variety of ways and this innovation is great.

Frank Eliason at Comcast (who has since moved on to Citi) and Richard Binhammer at Dell were pioneers of using Twitter as a customer service platform, responding to customer queries and complaints and even proactively seeking out issues that could be resolved. Coffee Groundz use Twitter as an ordering service, allowing customers to tweet in their coffee order and have it ready for them to pick up in advance.

Although many companies successfully use Twitter as curation or information networks, they often follow very few people back, which I believe goes against the natural ethos of what Twitter is about (Twitter is about human interactions and networking).

Liz Strauss is a great example of someone who uses Twitter brilliantly for aggregating and curating interesting and valuable pieces of information, but also as a networking and communication tool. If you take a look at Liz’s Twitter page, in addition to inspirational posts and links you’ll see an endless list of mentions and replies to others.

Liz Strauss is an expert networker and someone who builds successful professional networks. Liz is also someone who really understands what Twitter is about – the art of engagement.

All those replies and retweets show how Liz responds and interacts with her network. Twitter shouldn’t be used for shouting your opinions and broadcasting news, but as a communication channel where dialogue and conversations can be fostered. By doing this well you can begin to build credibility and be seen by others as someone who is willing to share and contribute to the community.

But how can you begin to build a genuine and engaging Twitter presence:

Be consistent

However you choose to use Twitter, make a plan and stick to it. Consistency of appearance is important and it demonstrates to others that you’re not using Twitter on a bit of a whim. Engagement is key and it’s important to show up and join in the conversation on a regular basis. Don’t leave big gaps between updates.

If you do decide to create an information or curation network using Twitter make this clear in the bio so that people don’t get frustrated if you don’t reply to them.

Don’t over tweet

Showing up and participating is essential, but don’t tweet so much that you annoy your followers! Endless tweeting can clog up people’s timelines and they might decide to un-follow you.

It’s also important not to labour the point regarding a particular issue or subject matter. By all means tweet about it, but know when to stop!

Mix and match

Don’t tweet the same type of message over and over – it gets boring!  Even if you work in a relatively unglamorous industry, not all of the tweets need to be about product launches or what industry meetings you’re attending. Try and have a bit of fun once in a while and tweet about local events, sporting occasions or charitable causes. This will help ‘humanise’ your brand and encourage interaction from the community.

Take an interest

Engagement also involves taking a genuine intrest in what others are doing. Take the time to check out what others are talking about and respond, comment or Retweet their content. It’s surprising how simple gestures like this can make someone’s day.

Be interesting!

Whatever business you’re in, make your tweets interesting. Just look at what Home Depot is doing on Twitter. They post a variety of different tweets relevant to their target market (DIY), as well as responding and conversing with followers.