Thinking of twitter in Social Care – Perhaps!
After my article on social media in adult social care I promised to expand with Facebook and Twitter, so here you go. Maybe the call of twitter – www.twitter.com (everybody’s doing it) has become too much and you’ve jumped in. Or, maybe you have no clue what it is or why you would care.
I will start very basic and then move to more advanced themes, so there’s something for everyone!
What is twitter?
In simplest terms, twitter is a free service that allows anyone to say almost anything to anybody in 140 characters or less – it’s the “what are you doing right now” kind of micro-blogging that permeates online social communication.
So, now the question is – is that all? Well, no, not exactly. While people are using it to tell no one in particular what they had for lunch, millions are leaning on twitter pretty hard as a way to network and communicate with contacts new and old. twitter is outfitted, like most social media tools with the ability to subscribe, share, friend or follow as many twitter feeds as you like. In addition, many developers are swiftly creating tools that allow users to bend and twist the feeds in creative ways, but more on that shortly.
How do I use it?
First thing, sign up for an account. It’s very painless – sign up for a twitter account here
Your next stop should be to the twitter help guide – get help here this is where you get all your basic how to questions answered. Read it, it will really save you some time and anguish.
Once you create an account you will be given a home page and a profile page – ie: my profile is http://twitter.com/tonyupward. So my twitter handle is @tonyupward. From these pages you can find others Twitter streams to follow, post your own messages and even watch the entire public stream of comments flow by. (I don’t recommend that unless you are really, really bored).
It’s a good idea if you are going to jump into social media sites that allow you to build profiles to create a square image, or avatar as they are called, to use on your profile and often with your activity. You need to keep the overall size of this image fairly small but know that some tools expand the image so you might want to upload a 400 x 400 px image.
Custom Twitter Backgrounds – Since you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you are getting into this twitter thing. All the best dressed twitterers have a custom background on their twitter homepage instead of the default ones provided by twitter. If you really use this, it’s a good branding touch.
Here’s a tutorial from Twittip on how to create a custom background: TwitTip
Some basic concepts
Tweet - When you post or write your 140 characters on twitter and hit send it’s called a tweet or tweeting .
Handle – that’s your twitter name @tonyupward – balance short with descriptive and no matter what your business handle is get your personal name if you can even if you don’t plan to use it right now. – it’s like your URL and will have value some day.
Follow – this is simply the act of adding someone to your list of people you are following – this makes their tweets show up on your homepage.
Replies – this is what it is called when someone writes a tweet directly at your handle – @tonyupward cool post today blah blah – this is often an invite to engage with a follower.
Retweet – this is a tactic of republishing someone else’s tweet – the original tweet along with author stays in tact, but you are basically showing someone’s tweet to your followers – many people find this a great way to add content and acknowledge good stuff from the people they follow.
DM – this is a message that is sent directly to another user. They must be following you for you to DM them, but this is a very useful tool for private messages and generally a good choice when you start going back and forth with someone on something your entire base of followers might not find interesting.
Hashtag – this is a way people categorise tweets so that others might use the same tag and effectively create a way for people to view related tweets – it will something like #marketing – more on this in search.
Why would I use it?
Now that is the real question isn’t it? Many people look at twitter on the surface and conclude that it’s just one big waste of time. I can’t say I disagree completely, but like all social media and marketing tactics, before you can determine if something makes sense you need to analyse your objectives. So, instead of asking why you would use it, ask how it might help you achieve some other already stated objectives.
- Would you like a way to connect and network with others in the social care industry or others who share you views? It’s a great tool for that.
- Would you like a way to get instant access to what’s being said, this minute, about your organisation, people, products, CQC News or brand? It’s a great tool for that.
- Would you like a steady stream of ideas, content, links, resources, and tips focused on your area of expertise or interest? It’s a great tool for that.
- Would you like to monitor what’s being said about your suppliers, social agency partners and community friends to help them protect their reputation? It’s a great tool for that.
- Would you like to extend the reach of your thought leadership – blog posts and other content? It can be a great tool for that?
- Would you like to promote your facilities and services directly to a target audience? Its not a great tool for that?
Before you really jump into a service like twitter, it’s important that you identify at least, and initially only, one objective from the list above and focus your efforts on learning how to use the tool to that end.
Great article from Chris Brogan for more ideas: 50 Ways to Use Twitter for Business The following is an example of one such use.
Twitter as Support Desk
Over the course of the last year of so something happened to customer support – a great deal of it has moved on to twitter.
It started for me with the occasional “does anyone know what this error message means?” or “what adapter works best for X?” Even just a year ago the only people on twitter were smart, technology oriented and ahead of the curve on most new technologies.
A funny thing has happened over the last year. It would seem that just about any company that is active in online products and services is now providing support with a simple twitter request.
Now that twitter has grown, almost any social care provider can and (in my humble opinion of course) should be offering customer service or interaction via twitter.
If you are considering exploring twitter for support here are a couple ideas and a handful of tools that might make the task of providing support from your company a little easier than sitting 24/7 at your computer.
Create a company support account and give it a company branded avatar. (Some large organizations have numerous people participating on twitter and use tonyATCompanyname, which works as well.) Remember, this is support, pure and simple, so people aren’t really looking to engage with @dracomalfoy, it’s OK for several people in your company to monitor and respond under one branded avatar. It’s also OK for support to come from a real social media person, but you may find you rotate people through this position as well.
You can use the search tool on twitter.com to monitor social care news, products, and companys, you can also monitor them using a tool like tweetdeck so that you can know when someone is asking about, complaining about, or praising what you’re tracking in order to respond accordingly.
There are enterprise tools for customer service interaction on twitter being built right into EPR and CRM tools by Salesforce.com, Cisco, and others, but here are a few free tools that might make your job a little easier.
- Tweetdeck - As mentioned above, tweetdeck can operate a bit like your desktop dashboard to help you set-up searches for key terms and respond directly.
- HootSuite – Hootsuite does a number of things, but for support one of the biggest tools is the ability to manage multiple accounts so you can easily jump back and forth from your personal account to the brand support account.
- Splitweet – Another pretty cool multiple twitter account manager that also allows you to monitor your brand mentions and has a mac desktop client.
- Tweet2tweet – this tool allows you to put two twitter names in and see the full discussion between the two much like Facebooks’ wall to wall. This can help understand a thread of messages or give you a view of an ongoing support thread you’re engaged in.
- CoTweet – CoTweet is built for the company or brand that wants to both serve and engage new prospects. Used by organisations that need to have multiple people responding on the same account.
Who should I follow?
In twitter terms, following someone simply means that their posts, or tweets as they are called, show up on your homepage (or text messages via the mobile phone option)
To make twitter more useful for many of the objectives above, you need to follow others and begin to have others follow you. Some people take very aggressive and, often, time consuming leaps into to this and try to follow and be followed by everyone on twitter. Again, back to the objectives, most often quality over quantity is best. I will always follow those I find interesting as opposed to just following 1000’s of people to crank my followers up.
What should you say on twitter?
Another tough question. Whatever your answer, it needs to be 140 characters or less. So, let’s go back to the objectives shall we?
If, for instance you want some immediate feedback on something your planning to do in your care home, you may choose to pose some questions. This often stimulates conversation but it can also do a great deal in terms of helping your make a decision – a bit like a poll. I have received some great ideas for blog content and often cross post a response or two from twitter in a blog post.
Company twitter account
Another great idea is to set up an account that everyone in the company can direct tweets to as they find good content and want to bookmark it for others to quickly view.
Bookmark great content
Using a tool like Su.pr anyone can create tweets based on a page they visit and then direct it to the company @companyaccount.
Using a bookmarking tool and posting great web finds in your tweets every so often is a great way to mix up your content.
Your blog content
If you want to promote an event or post or idea don’t simply link to it, add a twist, ask if people have any thoughts, pose an interesting thought create a discussion.
To post your own tweets you can simply visit the twitter home page, but you might also consider these tools.
- WordPress plugins- Word Social (if you add the Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook application your tweets will automatically show up as status changes on Facebook etc).
- Twitterrific If you love Twitter, you’ll love TweetBeep! Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company.
- twitter feed Feed your blog to twitter, linked in and Facebook.
- this application allows you to feed any RSS feed into a twitter account – use wisely, you can send too much content that turns followers off with this tool.
So let’s review Mixing up your tweet content and staying active is a good way to build followers and create dialogue.
- Add content about events
- Retweet other people’s great tweets
- Add tweets that are questions
- Add tweets that are links to great web pages you find
- Add random thoughts
- Add your blog posts
Filtering twitter to make it make sense
One of most important and frequently under-utilised objectives for twitter is as a way to monitor your brand and reputation. Anytime anything is being said about your company, products, people, or services you can track it and respond instantly. You can also use a set of readily available tools to track what’s being said about any search term you like. This is another great way to find people with shared interests.
Twitter Search - http://search.twitter.com/ This little tool allows you to monitor anything you can search. I use it to see what’s being said back to me @tonyupward and then do searches like “tonyupward marketing” or “lawrence tomlinson” – now for some this may feel a little vain, but this is a great way to stay in touch and even network with those who have an interest in your products and services.
Some large organizations such as Dell use twitter very effectively to communicate with customers – happy and sad alike. This has become a major customer communication tool for them because they can respond immediately.
Lastly, twitter search allows you to create RSS feeds from your searches so you can have them sent directly to your RSS reader or you can republish a stream of content on your website or blog and add the collective twitterverse (the twiller universe) to your content creation.
5 Tips for Getting More From Twitter
1. Tweet great content 3-4 times a day – Follow people who always find great stuff, subscribe to blogs that feature great links and reviews of new methods or best practice in social care, scan weekly and daily email news digests, cruise over to the delicious popular page and read print care publications of interest. All of these sources (most of which can be scanned in a 15 minute sitting once you have them set up) are rich with content that your followers and the twitter world in general want’s to read. One of the most valuable services you can provide is to be a filter for the information overload your followers, customers and social network are feeling. In a way, your twitter stream can become that valuable filter for pointing out the best content, but do it consistently and watch your follower count grow – but in a positive way rather than the scatter gun follow everyone approach.
2. Reply to conversations (@tonyupward) – One of the best ways to get engaged with those you follow is to join conversations where appropriate and offer answers and suggestions. Many common tweets come in the form of a question from someone looking for help. When you offer the solutions to these forms of tweets you automatically become more engaged and demonstrate some of your own knowledge, expertise and willingness to help. Obviously, you can’t sit around all day answering questions, but by focusing on addressing conversations that are related to your expertise in social care and field of expertise say, dementia care, you can build a reputation around topics that matter to your objectives. Use 3rd party tools such as Tweetdeck so that you can easily scan conversations and be ready to reply to conversations that are directly related to you.
3. Retweet other people’s content – Another network and follower building practice is to retweet other people’s tweets. This is simply the act of taking someone’s tweet and tweeting it in your stream – with full credit to the original tweeter. This has become a very standard practice on twitter (designated with a RT) and can be overdone, but you can also use it for two purposes. If you are following people who tweet what you find to be very interesting Adult Social Care content, then you are doing your followers a favour by sharing that content with them. In addition, you are, in effect, acknowledging the person whose content you have retweeted. This is the nice bit of the culture of sharing and usually comes back in some form to help you build your following. People generally pay attention to others that are retweeting their content. However, this can become a crutch as well – make sure you are pushing your own content out in a nice mix.
4. Use search to meet objectives – For many twitter power users search is the most important feature of twitter. You can use the twitter advanced search tool to create very elaborate searches that can filter out only the tweets that address your specific industry in your specific geography. Or you can find people talking about your expertise, whining about a problem you can help with, or proving a solution you need. Searches you create on twitter also produce an RSS feed so you can set your searches up in a way that deliver the results to your RSS reader on a daily basis. I would also include the use of the #hashtag function (I wrote in greater detail about hashtag use earlier) as a search tool. Get in the habit of using it to promote your events and promotions and while attending events, in person or online, as it’s a great way to find and connect with like-minded delegates attending events. People who follow the event tag from afar will bump into your content this way as well. Once again, 3rd party tools like Tweetdeck allow you to monitor your searches, including hashtags, on your desktop.
5. Be easy to retweet and follow – This one is both on twitter and off. Sharing great info is the first rule, but you can do other things as well. While twitter allows 140 characters, if you aim for 120 your tweets will be easier for someone to RT. This way people can add their handle and a bit of commentary. Use tools, such as the Tweetmeme WordPress plugin I have at the beginning of this post (go ahead you know you want to click that green retweet), that make your content off twitter easy to tweet. Add your “ follow me on twitter” button to web pages, email newsletters and email signature. Add your @name to your business cards, stationary and invoices.
Mining twitter for Leads
This maybe a little to far a stretch for some of you. Getting leads and increasing your business by participating on sites like twitter is a very intriguing notion. Now I’m not talking about barging in and flogging your wares to anyone with an @ – your not Derek Trotter and you wouldn’t do that in an offline setting, for example at a dinner party, would you? But, think of that same dinner party, you’re having a chat with someone who is going on about how they can’t get good help to staff their care home, and you just happen to be a Care Staff recruiter and have the answer for them. You might suggest a great solution and viola, land a nice piece of business.
Well, that virtual dinner party in going on all day long on twitter. The problem is, it’s a bit like a party held in the Wembley Arena, if somebody in section 10 needs what you do, but you’re in section 334, you’ll never meet each other.
This is where some powerful twitter and 3rd party tools can come to help you make sense of it all.
Meet twitter Advanced Search - the basic twitter search function is a great time saving filter and allows you to set-up searches on your name, company name, brands, competitors, all the basic stuff, so you can monitor your business and reputation and even know when people are replying to your tweets.
Advanced search, however, is where the real data mining comes to life.
Advanced search allows you to filter everything that’s being said for your keyword phases in your town, for example. Think that might be useful? Let’s say you are a mobile chirpodist working in care homes across Yorkshire – if you set up an advanced search for people in Yorkshire complaining about their chiropodist – and you got those complaints in real-time – could you develop some hot leads?
Creating advanced searches around topics that would identify someone as a hot lead is really pretty easy using the form on the advanced search page or you can use a host of operators in the basic search page to create some interesting searches. For example, want to know if anyone in Harrogate is asking about dementia – your search would look like this – near:Harrogate within:50mi dementia? Note the question mark after the word marketing.
People are asking questions, complaining, and searching for stuff in every corner of the world on twitter and these people are often more than happy to hear from someone who can provide an answer locally. With a little practice you can set-up a series of tweets that might turn up leads for your business every single day.
Again, this is not an invitation to spam every Social Care contact you can find, but with a little care and the fact that you can identify people through the flood of tweets, people expressing needs and wants, you can proceed to target and educate these people by starting a conversation and answering their questions thoughtfully.
Build your network - you don’t need to stop at leads, you can also turn up some great potential strategic partners locally using this same approach.
Using the RSS function - because every search produces a unique RSS feed you can subscribe to all the searches you set-up and determine useful and that way you can get them in your RSS reader – if you use one. I like this because it allows you to keep your searches sorted so you can respond and follow-up appropriately when you have the time.
Another great RSS trick with twitter is to republish search results. Let’s say you are hosting a conference and you want to publish all the buzz in and around your conference or webinar – you simply create a #hastag unique to your event and then search that tap, grab the RSS feed and use Feedburner’s Buzz Boost feature to easily post the dynamic feed on your site. You can also set your searches up in a twitter client such as tweetdeck so you have desktop view of searches as they come in.
LinkedIn users can automatically feed their Twitter status updates to their LinkedIn status updates. While LinkedIn’s status update feature is right there for all to use, my experience is that people don’t use it nearly as much as they should – or certainly not like Twitter. (Even though LinkedIn has more members than Twitter.) This should be a real shot in the arm to LinkedIn from an exposure standpoint, but it may shake things up a bit too as the volume of status updates skyrockets.
The partnership is significant for another reason. I think this update is a further move towards positioning Twitter as the central content distribution hub for business. Facebook Fan Pages now offer easy Twitter integration and Bing and Google have established official ties with Twitter as well.
You can post from LinkedIn status and have it update twitter or the other way around. On LinkedIn you will change some setting and then click the Twitter box to have a LinkedIn status update post to Twitter.
The Twitter integration works very much like the popular Selective Twitter App for Facebook, when you post on Twitter and add the hashtag #li or #in the twitter update will also post to LinkedIn.
Twitter added a feature called Lists. I have to admit, at first I thought this was no big deal. I use desktop twitter clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop to create groups and lists already, so what’s the big deal.
Once I started playing around with Twitter’s List feature I quickly became hooked and think there are some great reasons you could too.
Quick overview of twitter lists
Any Twitter user can create a list and add anyone that tweets publicly to it. Once you create and name a list you can simply search for people to add using Twitter people search (once you find someone you want to add you simply click on the list button next to them and choose the list), or 3rd party search applications like Twellow or TweepSearch. Here is a list I have made publicly available for example: http://twitter.com/#!/list/tonyupward/social-care
5 Reasons to Use the Twitter List Feature
- Monitor without following – one of the things I like is that you can monitor a group of individuals in a list without having to follow any of the people on the list on twitter. You may actually want to follow people you find on a list – such as on my Adult Social Care List, but you may also want to monitor industry niche lists for a week or two while you’re carrying out a particular exercise. You can delete a list very easily, deleting hundreds of followers is harder.
- One button list follow – the fact that you can find a list and follow the entire collection with one button makes it very easy to manage. I think this may become the chosen way to find people to follow. If someone you trust tells you about a list of people you should be following and all you have to do is hit one button to do so, you’re probably going to do it. I predict this feature is going to dramatically impact how people follow.
- Promote your lists – this is such a great way for a group of people to promote each other on Twitter. You can promote your clients, your service, your community activities, you name it. Think about how great it would be to promote an event where you could follow all the speakers prior to the event, or what about all the attendees. You could create a list from sign-up details to your next dementia conference for example. In fact, what a great way to create collections of twitter people that your employees could follow or even employee lists. The fact that it is so easy for people to follow a list by going to a URL – and that list can be edited by the owner at will, means a lot.
- Filtered by an expert – Every business should consider creating a handful of Top 10 “fill in your narrow niche” to follow on twitter. By being the one that filters and creates easily sharable industry specific lists, you can add to your own credibility in the industry.
- Build a bigger following – Many of the ideas I mentioned above will naturally help you grow your own following. Creating a handful of useful lists and promoting those lists in public places and to the members on the list will raise your exposure and lead to more relevant followers.
2 Tools to Make Twitter Lists Even More Useful
Twitter List Widget – (example shown) this is a homegrown Twitter feature that’s pretty well hidden. Scroll to the bottom of your Twitter homepage and look for the link called Resources. Then click Widgets, MyWebsite, ListWidget. Widgets allow you to easily publish content, such as your Twitter Stream, to your web site or blog. Wisely, Twitter also added one for the List. Now, with relative ease you can publish updates of a list in your blog or website sidebar.
Listimonkey – (not sure about how to say this in mixed company, but) – this service bills itself as Google Alerts meets Twitter. The idea here is that you can tell the service what list you are tracking, but then further tell it you only want to know when someone on the list mentions your specific search term. When they do, you get an email alert. This is pretty nice way to follow lists with lots of people on them but filter the stream down to stuff you’re really interested in.
3 Ways to Deep Slice Twitter Conversations
OK, so you’ve got your twitter account up and cooking, you’re using 3rd party apps to filter and aggregate search and you’ve got a tweeting routing down pat, now what?
Now it’s time to take a much deeper look into the social web and start slicing conversation themes, discovering who’s influencing what, who’s saying what and how often, and what’s trending around a topic. There is a new breed of search engine forming around the “now search” that is plugging into social sites like twitter as well as blogs and social networks.
Managing your twitter activity
Once you start using twitter you’ll want to explore ways to make it easier to follow what’s going on and respond to @replies and searches you’ve set-up.
There are number of 3rd party desktop and mobile applications that make this a snap.
TweetDeck – Tweetdeck.com – This is a piece of software that you run on your desktop. You can post tweets from it, respond to replies from others and, this is what I really like, set up various searches and get updates in real time when someone tweets on a subject of phrase you are following.
This is a great way to monitor your service or jump on opportunities connected around your specific topics of choice without having hang out on twitter all day.
Twitterberry – this is the mobile app of choice for Blackberry users.
There is a pretty useful trick that twitter insiders use all the time called a hashtag. The roots of the #tag are buried somewhere in IM coding, but it’s what you can do with it using twitter that matters.
The hashtag or #tag added to a tweet acts as way to create categories, groups or topics for tweets that others can use as well. This way, tweets can easily be grouped together using the search.twitter.com feature.
Let me give you a very commonly used tactic for this. Let’s say a group of people are attending a empathy care workshop and tweeting their notes in real time. If everyone at that empathy care workshop were asked to add something like #empathycare to their tweets, everyone present or not can see and share all the notes in one place.
In the USA during earthquakes and fires hashtags are often used as a great way for people to get news.
Promoting events and product launches via a hashtag helps keep the word in context
Companies often use hashtags as a way for remote employees to use twitter as a communication tool for all the stuff people should stay on top of.
You can also find hot trends via hashtag at search.twitter.com. The homepage lists the trending tags. More than one twitter user has found that jumping into a hot trend conversation is a great way to connect with people on something of shared interest.
Anyone can create a hashtag by putting # in front of anything. Keep is short so you don’t use up your 140 and try for a little unique. If you use a tag that others are using you will mingle your results with others.
How to Make Your Tweets More Useful
One of the biggest responses I get surrounding twitter and it’s use for business involves the idea of ROI. It’s a genuine concern and something that can feel very hard to measure for most businesses, especially social care providers. It’s rare when someone can effectively attract followers and blatantly sell something to that at the same time. In most social media settings it just doesn’t work that way. The objective is to simply create enough engagement that people want to find out more on their own. While that’s a great long term objective, it can be a little hard to track. It is also worthwhile bearing in mind that you may not be selling a care bed or a physio visit – you may be selling your reputation and demonstrating your expertise. It is not about shifting units but rather shifting perceptions. A good friend of mine who runs a care home business has a great analogy, he says this on opening a new care home:
“In the community the first thing residents see is a construction company who turn up and build a fence around a site. It is my job to effectively pull that fence down and bring the community into the home”
You may be doing exactly that through social media. Pulling down the perceived barriers to your business.
One of the approaches I take is to think about your tweeting activities, and subsequent payoffs, in an expanded way. Sure, you want to get more coverage, but I find that getting better ideas, testing messages and doing all manner of research with my tweets provides tangible ROI for my business as well. A large percentage of my tweets are positioned to intentionally test ideas and trends for use in other ways. I’m still providing engaging information, but in a strategic way – that’s how you need to think about your activity in any social media setting to get immediate and long term ROI.
The key to making your tweets more useful in this fashion is to employ one of the many twitter metrics tools cropping up daily. These tools allow you to understand how the twitterverse is reacting to your tweets. Basically they are link tracking tools that shorten links and give you a dashboard report on clicks and retweets and the like for each of your tweets. Having this kind of data allows me to do a few things of interest. For example lets say;
- I find a site I think is cool and tweet it. From my dashboard I can see lots of people jumped on that and passed it around and also thought it was cool. Bingo! – I’ve got a topic for an expanded blog post.
- I write a blog post and point it out on twitter – I can get real-time feedback, over and above comments, on how hot the topic was
- I propose a question to my followers or make a strong statement about the Care Quality Commission and a CQC policy. Again, back to my stats I see the entire conversation that surrounded my topic (or not) and I may have a new theory on how to talk about the subject.
- I point out several articles I stumble across as good reads and for whatever reason one of the article ignites a storm of reaction – well, maybe I need to look deeper into that topic.
- people seem to pass on stuff more rabidly during a certain time of day – maybe I should take note of that.
- people seem to like certain types of tweets, judging by how they interact, than others – could that help me tweet better?
Do you see how, by getting a few details about the ways people, even with small numbers of followers, are reacting to your tweets you could use this data to inform how you tweet and how you might get immediate payback over and above the obvious long term goal of for example filling beds?
Here are a few of the tracking tools you might consider. Most are really twitter toolboxes as they make it easy to tweet with multiple twitter account management, bookmarklets, link shorteners, and built in search functions.
- HootSuite - very stable tool, I see traces of it’s owly link everywhere on twitter
- CoTweet - positioned very well as the enterprise twitter toolbox
- SU.PR - the creation the people at StumbleUpon and Four Hour Workweek author Tim Ferris, this combines some extra features to promote your tweets on Stumble Upon – in a rolling beta release right now, but I like this one.
Some More Great Tools
- socialoomph - allows you to auto follow back anyone who follows me and auto send a welcome message via DM. – This one gets mixed reviews from twitter maniacs as it can be abused – don’t use it to auto send your spam selling messages, use it to greet a new followers in a fun and engaging way. I get lots of messages back from my auto greets as many people don’t sense it’s an auto generated message. You’ve still got to reach out to people and connect, but this gets the ball rolling automatically and saves a great deal of time.
- Tweetbeep – Another phrase and twitter word tracker.
Bringing the Twitter Conversation to Any Web Page
Twitter is very hot right now so why not take advantage of this new found buzz by tapping the twitter stream and selectively publishing twitter content on your web site or blog to enhance and link to the conversation.
It’s pretty simple to re-post what’s being said on twitter on your web site because of the built in use of RSS technology. (Don’t worry you don’t even need to know what that is.)
First off, why would you want to republish twitter content? Here are couple pretty good reasons.
- You want to publish everything that is being said at the conference you are hosting and run it as a live stream on your site.
- You want to publish your last five tweets on your home page to help people follow your twitter activity
- You want to create a company-wide #hashtag and publish all the great finds your people are bookmarking in one place.
- You want to publish all the great brand mentions your organisation is getting on twitter.
- You want to publish your replies to common customer service requests as a growing FAQ and demonstrate great service.
Here are the tools you will employ to get started. (there are lots of ways to do this, but this is one that is very simple.)
- Twitter search and Advanced search – this is how you drill down and find the stream and RSS feed you are looking for.
- Feedburner’s Buzz Boost – this Google owned service makes it very easy to republish the RSS feed as HTML on your web site.
The basic steps for republishing
- Go to search.twitter.com and create a search – this can be by your name, product, #hashtag, industry phrase. You will get your current results in the browser window.
- Take the RSS URL for your search and create a free Feedburner account and add the feed, then find BuzzBoost under the publicize tab and activate this feature and copy the HTML code that it produces. Paste this code on any web page and you will get a frequently updated stream of twitter content published to your page.
Some usage notes.
You can create your own hashtags for conferences or internal use but anyone can create them so if someone uses your tag their content, relevant or not, will show in your stream
If you want to publish brand or company mentions but are a little squeamish about what someone might say or you want to filter out content that won’t be relevant to the conversation you can always filter these by creating a search in a 3rd party tool like tweetdeck and then selectively saving the most relevant mentions as “favorites” as the favorites function in twitter produces it’s own unique RSS feed. (this is a nice way to publish any content you want to favorite on your site regardless of the content.)
I’ve employed the use of Feedburner in this tutorial but you should also explore the following tools for twitter publishing
- WidgetBox – with a pro account you can create lots of feature rich widgets to publish your twitter RSS ideas
- GoogleGadgets – Google’s free tool that allows anyone to create widget like tools, including lots of twitter.
Let’s Get Social
If you would like to connect with me on one of the following social networks, here are my profiles.
LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyupward
Facebook Business – http://www.facebook.com/pages/LNT-Software/111277258962333
StumbleUpon - http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/TonyUpward/
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/tonyupward
YouTube - http://youtube.com/lntsoftware
Digg - http://digg.com/users/tonyupward
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