March 24, 2010
OK, you get it. You –or your organization or business– oughta be using Twitter. But how, exactly, do you get started? What do you “tweet”? When do you “tweet”? How do you fit “tweeting” in with the rest of your work? And does it really make a difference? One group, Idealware, provides some concrete and practical answers to Twitter questions based on its own organizational experience.
A few weeks ago I did a couple of posts meant to help you begin to explore Twitter: one about how you can use Twitter to monitor the news or topics you are interested in and another about Twitter hashtags. But those posts mostly described ways of watching what other people are doing in Twitter-land; you may still feel like a tourist there, one who still doesn’t know how to talk to the natives. And everyone’s telling you that you should be using Twitter to communicate about yourself and your work, start conversations, build networks–that is, settle down and build your own place inside Twitter. And if you’ve decided that yes, that IS what you want to do, you’ve probably also realized you need to know a bit more Twitter-speak, and you need some more concrete advice about what to say, how to act, and, most importantly, what steps to take to actually get things done in this new world.
Thankfully, Idealware, a great group whose mission is “helping nonprofits make smart software” decisions has just told it’s own story of Twitter exploration and settlement and, in the process, provided a step-by-step guide to using Twitter. It provides good advice about nearly every dilemma you’ll encounter as you set up your Twitter account–How do I pick a good Twitter user name? What should I put in my profile?–and as you begin to use your account for more than monitoring — What should I tweet about and how often? How do I move from posting information to having conversations?–in just enough detail to be helpful without being overwhelming.
Because the guide is based on Idealware’s own organizational experience (and because Idealware serves nonprofit groups) it applies most directly to other organizations, providing counsel on basic questions like: “Should my group have an organizational Twitter account or should staffers “tweet” in their own names?” (answer: It depends–and Idealware explains some factors that will help you decide.) But it won’t take much imagination to apply Idealware’s answers to a business or even your own personal Twitter account.
Idealware’s experience closely mirrors my own in using Twitter for my own business and for several organizations and nonprofit promotional campaigns. Their suggestions are very sound, and because they’ve written up this guide, I don’t need to (in the form of planned followups to my earlier posts on Twitter). Don’t be put off by the fact that they call it a “case study”– it’s anything but dry and academic. Instead it’s a friendly and personable travel guide– take it along as you delve deeper into the world of Twitter.