Social Engagement: Twitter – Useful PR Tool or Total Waste of Time?


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It’s fair to wonder about a communications tool that seems designed to refer to its users as “twits.” “Tweeple” (not “twerps”?) may be a kinder sobriquet, but how useful is the “twitterverse?” And at what point (if ever) does Twitter rise above thumb-twiddling?

You’ve likely already seen the most touted story lines — Twitter boasts more than 100 million active users, is growing at an alarming rate, and is almost absurdly well-suited to smartphones and mobile devices… So okay, we know that there’s an audience there. But in that deliberate cacophony of 140 characters at a time, is it possible for your voice to be heard above the din?

As with any medium, the answer is “maybe.” Maybe your TV ad will resonate. Maybe your new branding concept will ring true. And maybe you will gather a powerful following of interested customers, journalists, and “key influencers” who will make you and your company the next hot thing. It’s been done, but isn’t there some sort of secret sauce?

In cooking, there’s a concept of a “holy trinity” that’s completely divorced from religion — it’s about the three basic ingredients that form something like the soul of a cuisine, underlying and supporting the most iconic recipes. For Cajun food, you’re talking onions, bell peppers, and celery; for French or Italian, onions, celery, and carrots. Try to make gumbo or osso buco without the trinity, and you’re headed for a whole lot of work with miserable results.

Well, the more time I spend considering, critiquing, and working on Twitter campaigns, the more convinced I am that productive Twitter accounts are based on a holy trinity of their own. As with any recipe, proportions may vary, but all elements ought to be present in any effort to reach an audience and build a reputation on Twitter:

  • A Defined Target Audience — You simply must know who you’re trying to engage. This is a question of demographics, geography, market sense, and media awareness, but it does not define just who you will follow or tweet @. It should have a strong influence on what you say and how you say it. (Example: if your target audience is teenage girls, tweets filled with gibberish abbreviations to stay within character limits are just fine. But imagine the efficacy of a campaign aimed at corporate head honchos using terms like “OMG,” “4u,” or “<3? anything. No, no, no.) People will follow you, retweet you, think about you, and recommend you if your content meets them; they’re the market.
  • A Defined Differentiator — Not to be rude, by why the hell would someone want to follow you specifically? The answer should be permeating your PR strategy and marketing materials already: because you know or do something better than anyone else. Whatever that distinction is, it’s the soul of your Twitter effort, whether it’s awesome technology that fills a glaring hole, a policy solution that redefines the market, or a passion for wine that makes your inn a dinner destination for five surrounding states. Stake a claim and give proof of your greatness repeatedly. Whatever it is.
  • The Right Corporate (or Individual) Temperament — This is often the toughest requirement. Many different characters fit Twitter (or communications broadly), but the one constant is that you have to be communicative. I’m serious. If you know your audience and know your differentiator, you really ought to have at it, tweeting your work, tweeting with others, commenting, thanking, questioning… You don’t dip a toe in and expect a gold medal. You dive in and work.
I’ll be honest; Twitter isn’t for everyone. But it is a networking tool fueled by the quality of what you put into it. And an organization with good PR sense, strong market awareness, and faith in its reason for existing already has the basic ingredients for Twitter success. And if YOU are focused, your twitterverse will be too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


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