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Posts Tagged ‘TinyURL’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely heard of Twitter.

Several of the major news organizations like CNN, ABC etc., are using social media tools and if you’ve followed updates over the last week on the Iran election, Twitter has been singled out as a major cyber-sympathizer source to help dodge government censorship.

I’ve had a number of people ask me about Twitter, why it matters and why use it.  To be candid I was slow in adopting the technology for the blog, because I wasn’t sure of the time commitment and the whole “life casting” gig wasn’t all that interesting to me.  However, over the last 6 months I have put some energy into understanding the technology and have been somewhat consistent in updating.  I find it curious that for all of its social media self-promotion and skills, Harley-Davidson corporate doesn’t effectively use the Twitter tool.   A few dealers are trying it and I’ve provided a few thoughts/suggestions below on how bloggers or H-D can leverage and improve relationships with their core audience.

First the what:  Twitter is a “microblogging” tool (it’s technical infrastructure is sometimes referred to as a “platform”) that lets people post short (140 character) messages, called “tweets” to the Web. Twitter exists somewhere in the space between RSS, chat, e-mail (publically viewable), blogs, and forums.

Next is to make sure you’re current on the vernacular of the technology or Twitter “language” — a “tweet” is a Twitter post.  Once you post your “tweet” onto the Twittersphere, users who elect to “follow” you will be updated with your new pearl of wisdom that you just posted.  The best way to really understand Twitter is to sign up for it and just start playing with it. Go to Twitter and create a twitter account.  If you run a blog my suggestion is to make sure and take the time to create a customized or branded profile. Include links to your site or let’s say if you’re a motorcycle dealer include links to your e-commerce or dealership website. Twitter’s help site, will provide an understanding of all that you can do with it.

For example one AZ-based motorcycle dealer has tasked the community relationship manager with the job of posting and managing followers.  Next is to publicize your Twitter ID (mine is macrant) and encourage people who visit your blog or your motorcycle shop/web site to sign up for Twitter and follow you.   I’ve seen folks put Twitter ID on printed receipts and business cards as well as have a “Follow Us” link to their website or in e-mail marketing.  The point is that Twitter is a tool through which subscribers can further reach their audiences, real-time.  Your followers can hear and express thought leadership, broadcast their messages, connect to influencers in the industry both on their desktop and via mobile devices.

As you surf Twitter you’ll note the @ symbol in tweets. This is a method for referencing or replying to another Twitter user.  Mine is @macrant.  Another symbol you will see is #.   This is a trick that folks use to tag or categorize post content. Example: #harley, #motorcycle or #harley-davidson.   Another convention you’ll see is RT or ReTweet. If you’ve read something interesting and want others to view it, you RT it.  For example this would look like: RT @macrant “Posted a great article for #harley fans on how to leverage #twitter.”

Is Twitter for everyone?  No.  There’s a lot of crap people need to wade through on the internet.  But, as an emerging platform with a lot of technical infrastructure it’s another opportunity to build relationships and build a media-savvy blog or brand. To get more out of it I suggest you use some of the Twitter clients. I use Nambu, but two other widely used Twitter clients are Twhirl and Tweetdeck.  These apps allow you to view or analyze what is called real-time twit-streams.  These are the Twitter posts in real time.  A couple other apps you may want to investigate is Twist to track trends or keywords and Twitscoop to see which terms are getting more views or being reference in the Twittersphere.  In addition there is an easy-to-use image tool: Twitpic that lets you post pictures through Twitter.

Because you are limited to 140 characters in a post, it’s hard to enter long urls when you want to direct people to a certain site or page. The solution is to use a URL-shortening service. One service is TinyURL which is popular, but there are many more which you can view at: http://tinyurl.com/yp8cba/ There’s even a user-generated directory at WeFollow where you simply tweet to @wefollow with 3 different categories to get listed.

Now the question is how can I use this to promote my blog or make more $$$ in my motorcycle shop? You can post tweets to your blog or other relevant information which may help drive traffic.  On the dealer e-commerce side, you can tweet to your followers when you add new, cool products to your website which will help drive traffic and potentially sales.   As a motorcycle dealer you could run RT-based contests. Tell people that if they re-tweet a product detail page or blog post they have a chance to win a prize.  You can follow this link http://tinyurl.com/cg8euq/ for a Google search on “re-tweet contests” to get some ideas. You can publicize Web discounts or in-store specials that are good with a code that you tweet. This gives people motivation to follow you.

As a blogger you’ll want to build a social media ecosystem with Twitter that points people to your blog posts, and a blog link pointing people to your Twitter ID.  When people follow or RT you, it’s protocol to thank them via a direct message or publicly via an @reply. If relevant, don’t forget to follow them back.  It’s important to do frequent searches on Twitter for your blog or company name to keep track of what people are saying about you or the company.  Here are 10 key points to help get you started:

  1. Pushy sales can make people avoid you. You’re using Twitter to build relationships with an audience, so be personal and genuine.
  2. Try a personal account and get familiar with it before jumping in on your blog or for a business.
  3. Select a Twitter username/ID that is catchy and matches your blog “brand” or company.
  4. Twitter needs to be used regularly to maintain interest across the community.
  5. Profile customization will support your blog brand or company.
  6. Note to H-D Dealer’s  — try enticing people to follow you with Twitter-only deals.
  7. Stay up-to-date with blog/website analytics to measure traffic from Twitter and gauge its effectiveness.
  8. Publicize your Twitter ID everywhere: On posters, flyers, business cards, e-mails, forum signatures, etc.
  9. Make sure you follow the manufactures, motorcycle racers and other personalities that matter to your blog/business and your audience.
  10. Post tweets to products and categories to help build traffic.

There you have it.  I hope the information was helpful.

If you’re the type of person who feel great “tweets” only come from birds after motorcycle riding and camping in the great outdoors then you’re an unlikely candidate for Twitter.  However, if you’re curious about driving blog or dealer traffic then I invite you to follow me on twitter @macrant and/or try it.

Finally it’s memo to H-D time:  step up the Twitter activity to reach out to your core audience and engage people in a deeper conversation.

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

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