Tips for starting a Twitter feed off right: Grow patiently
At long last, we’ve come to the final in this series of posts on starting a Twitter feed, based on a Tweet I wrote eons ago in Twitter time. The tweet (with links to the posts) was:Starting a #Twitter feed? Follow graciously. Interact generously. Share consistently. Grow patiently.
“Grow patiently” probably seems like a no-brainer; after all, things take time, right? But the key to this is being able to tell if and how things are growing. Being patient doesn’t mean being endlessly forbearing if something is ineffective. If something isn’t growing, then it’s a waste of time and effort to keep hoping it will. That is why it’s important to have some plans for measurement in place when you start a Twitter feed.First, establish a time frame you want to measure. Ask anyone who’s ever dieted: it’s hard to get a sense of how things are going when you’re weighing yourself each and every day. You want to get a sense of trends and directions more than individual ounces. Determine early on that you will allow yourself a certain period of time to develop your Twitter feed, and put on your calendar a date when you want to review how things are going. I would suggest 2 or 3 months to get some valuable data—certainly no less than one month.Second, decide what it is you want to measure. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to be savvy about what you measure. The most obvious thing to measure is number of followers, but this is probably not the best metric. Anyone can get more followers; the more important question is, are these the followers you want? And are they doing what you hope they will? For example: Are you a web-based organization? Then you can use an analytics tool to see how many people visited your website via Twitter. Are you trying to share information? Then look to see if your links are getting clicked on or your tweets retweeted. Are you a local store? Then measure how many of your followers are in your area. Think about your objectives that you set when you first started a Twitter account, and then find a measurement that will give you some real insight into whether you are reaching that objective or not.
Third, after the set time period has gone by, evaluate how things are going. Along with the metrics you set in place, here are some questions you might ask yourself: What kind of Tweets generate the most response—either in clicks, @mentions, or retweets? What time of day or day of the week gets the most activity? (Crowdbooster is useful for that.) What tends to land with a thud? And (bearing in mind that it measures online reach, not your worth as a person) take a look at Klout.com, which will give you a sense of your influence on Twitter.
On the personnel side, ask yourself how much time is being spent on Twitter? Who is doing the posting? What are they not able to do because they are spending time on Twitter? And is the trade-off worth it?
If things are growing, and you can see that they are, then great. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s when things seem to be stalled that you have some hard choices.
The one thing you don’t want to do is keep doing the same things you’ve been doing and hope for a different result. So consider the variables: what can you change? You can change the number of tweets, when you tweet, the content of your tweets, who is posting the tweets, how much time is spent on updating the twitter feed. You can search out new followers, perhaps wildly different from the ones you started with, perhaps focused on a certain topic or locality. If you do decide to revamp how you approach Twitter, tweak one or two variables at most, schedule another period for evaluation, and when that time is over, review again. Has anything changed? And if so, how? If not, is there another variable you want to adjust?
Remember that there’s nothing wrong with deciding Twitter isn’t the right social media channel for what you want to do. In fact, it’s foolish to keep up a Twitter feed that isn’t doing what you want when you could be spending time on, say, a photo feed that will have more impact for the time spent.
But if you do think that a Twitter feed will allow you to connect with people in a way that will be beneficial for your organization, be sure to give it a chance. Remember that Twitter isn’t magic. It does take time and effort. But if you do follow graciously, interact generously, and share consistently, I can pretty much guarantee that your Twitter feed will grow. Be patient—and watch for results.