With over 255 million monthly active users sending an average of 500 million tweets a day, it’s no wonder Twitter is the first place many people turn to receive up to date news.
There are over 2.1 billion searches on the site everyday — which means it’s hot on the heels of Google and YouTube. However, unlike the other search engines, Twitter allows any individual to post news that will be immediately positioned in the public eye.
Twitter is often called the “information network” to distinguish it from other traditional social networking sites. And according to Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, the new Twitter Search site “is complementary to traditional forms like television, because it adds the kind of real-time discussion we associate with the town square”. In other words, Twitter wants to become the ultimate breaking news platform.
It is not just Twitter that can see these benefits — journalists have been using Twitter for years to find breaking news. Now, they are turning to the site to post the news before they have even written the article. Twitter has heightened the competition between media sources to be the first ones to report news.
Twitter allows users to personalise the type of news they receive. By following certain accounts, users can pick and choose what they see in their newsfeed. We’ve all opened a newspaper and had to flick through to find the articles that really interest us. The Twitter List is great for collating news, allowing users to separate the accounts they follow into categories such as sports news or celebrities.
In addition to Lists, the almighty hashtag has allowed us to group together tweets from a specific subject, so we can view millions of first hand accounts and traditional news reports on just about any subject. The hashtag allows us to see and share everyone’s opinions.
Not only can you filter the news you receive but you can also receive it from a variety of sources. By following multiple Twitter accounts you can get a less biased take on a breaking news story.
Perhaps the greatest feature that Twitter brings to news reporting is citizen journalism. These 140 characters have given everyone a voice, allowing first hand accounts to be posted as well as traditional news reports.
The problem with Twitter as a newspaper, however, is that it is a huge rumour mill. Not everything that is tweeted is true. In order to find great nuggets of news on the platform we have to sift through thousands of false accounts and spam.
But can the same not be said for traditional media? As confidence in newspapers wavers, are people increasingly turning to social media for the real first hand accounts from the average Joe?
In an age where the media is grappling for the best headlines and as confidence in newspapers beings to falter, will Twitter becomes the ultimate 21st Century newspaper?
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear during my “What’s the point?” series of social media talks is: “How do you find the time to do all this?”
My initial answer is, I’m abnormal. Don’t expect to do what I do — I’m not an average social media user.
My daily routine involves switching off my alarm and checking Facebook, Sky News, LinkedIn and Twitter on my smartphone. I have the same routine before I go to sleep. A couple of times a week, I’ll also look at Google+ and Pinterest. I might also look at Instagram at weekends.
I check in several times during the day — depending on where I am and what I’m doing — usually mid-morning and just after lunch, as my newsfeeds contain the most new content at these times.
But if I was a “normal” social media user, what would I recommend?
You need a plan. You need to know what you want to achieve and identify the best tools to enable you to achieve it. It’s far better to use two or three tools really well than to attempt them all.
First, spend time planning your content. Using a calendar to plan evergreen content frees you up to focus on the real-time stuff.
If you spend time planning, you can maintain an active and effective social media presence in just ten minutes a day.
This gives you time to check your newsfeed or timeline, share timely content, and engage with connections or followers — say thanks, like or add a comment.
Social media needs to become a habit, just as email use became a habit 10+ years ago. Technology is here to make our lives easier. It’s not fundamentally changing what we do — just how we do it.
It takes just 21 days to form a habit. In three weeks, social networking can become a part of your daily life.
Research suggests the following posting frequencies work best:
Facebook: three to four updates each week
Twitter: four to five times a day
Google+: two to three times a day
LinkedIn: two to three status updates each week
Once or twice a week you should check out who has viewed your profile on LinkedIn and participate in a group discussion. Regular participation will ensure you soon have a manageable habit to acquire news and information, and to engage in meaningful conversations.
If your timelines are filled with information that’s not of value, you need to reset your filters. Don’t be afraid to “unlike” and “unfollow”. You can use Twitter lists to organise the accounts you follow into manageable groups, then select which lists you view and when. Your LinkedIn home page allows you to customise the updates you see regularly.
Start forming your social media habit today — the chances are you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
Twitter has become an increasingly powerful device for small firms, allowing them to engage with clients, reach a wider audience and spread brand awareness
However, although Twitter is useful on its own, there are a number of tools available to help you get the most from the social networking site. They range from tools allowing you to schedule and track tweets and analyse competitor profiles to apps that can help you increase your followers and manage several accounts.
Here are 15 of the best Twitter tools:
Using one or more of these tools could prove extremely beneficial to your small business by giving you a greter insight into followers and competitors and making your Twitter use more efficient and effective.
Matt Russell is writing on behalf of WebHostingBuzz.co.uk.
It’s all too easy to sit at your laptop and write something in the heat of the moment — a complaining email or even a tweet or Facebook update having a moan about something. But these online moments could land you and your business in court.
Just because you are writing something in the comfort of your office or sat on your sofa in front of the TV doesn’t mean it might not have serious legal implications. It’s all too easy to respond to something in an instant — post a comment here, have a rant on Twitter there — but you should consider whether your actions might be stepping outside the boundaries of the law.
One tiny comment can have far reaching effects in terms of who sees it and what it means for you or your business. Your tweets, status updates and reviews are out there in the public domain, for all the world to see, and unfortunately, some may come back to haunt you. If you think the internet offers a free rein to say whatever you want, you need to think again.
If you have written a comment on a social media site, on your own or a competitor’s website or on a review site such as TripAdvisor or FreeIndex, you could be committing libel. Recently, there have been several high profile libel cases surrounding Twitter, including Sally Bercow’s tweet referencing Lord McAlpine.
The fact that the UK High Court found that her tweet was libelous shows that you don’t even have to explicitly defame someone for it to represent libel. Justice Tugendhat ruled that innuendo was equally damaging, carrying the “same effect” as the natural meaning of words.
Sally Bercow said: “Today’s ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation. I have learned my own lesson the hard way.”
It has been reported that online libel cases have doubled in recent years due to the social media explosion, so don’t think that social media is still a grey area in the eyes of the law — it’s really not. Your bite-sized tweets, status updates and comments on social networks (personal and business) are all covered by UK libel and defamation laws.
Even search giant Google has found to its cost that online defamation can take many forms. It has been sued several times because of its auto-complete feature, which whilst a useful tool for most of us, has been found to link people’s names with offensive or misleading terms, resulting in expensive lawsuits.
UK law is very clear on libel: anyone who makes a defamatory comment in published material about an identifiable person (ie someone named, pictured, or otherwise alluded to) that causes loss to business or reputation has committed libel. As the Sally Bercow case shows, a person does not even have to make a direct allegation, as UK libel law equally covers insinuation and implication. All social media users need to be aware of this.
Unlike criminal law where the burden of proof lies with the accuser, with UK libel law a defamatory statement is presumed to be false, unless the defendant can prove it’s the truth.
If you are in any doubt about what you can say online, take a look at this useful article Can I write whatever I want online? but my advice (and I’m not a lawyer I hasten to add) is never tweet or comment online in anger as it may land you (and your business) in a lawsuit!
Recently I’ve been hearing lots of people saying that Facebook has become their preferred choice of social network for promoting their business. Lots of people seem to be making use of Facebook, but are reluctant to start using Twitter or feel it’s not the right social network for them.
So I thought I would share my top four reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook for marketing your business, to give you the inspiration to start using Twitter, or to re-ignite your passion if you’ve started feeling a bit “meh” about it recently.
So, in no particular order:
Image credit: mkhmarketing on Flickr.
Now I know to the newbie Twitter user, the first time you realise just how fast moving it is, you can feel a bit like you’ve suddenly found yourself at Victoria Station at 8am on a weekday!
But the pace of Twitter opens up plenty of opportunities for you to get in front of your ideal clients.
Because it moves so quickly, most people don’t screen what they tweet in the way they do when posting on Facebook. Twitter users are much more likely to “brain dump” into a tweet — which means you get access to lots more detail on people than you ever will on Facebook.
On Twitter you’re more likely to post the minutiae about your day; the train is delayed, the fact that you stopped for coffee en route, your immediate thoughts after the meeting, the quick whizz around the shops, the people on the train and so on.
So think about what your ideal client might be tweeting about during their day — and search for it on Twitter. They’re right there.
It is actually miles easier to learn how to use Twitter than it is Facebook.
The reason is that Facebook changes the blooming rules every other day; so just when you think you know what you’re doing, it all changes.
I can only think of two changes Twitter has made in the past six months, and one of those was about the way you report (and they deal with) abusive tweets. The other was the introduction of a new feature that allows you to accept direct messages from anyone who follows you — regardless of whether you follow them.
Both of those changes will make very little difference to how the majority of us use Twitter.
Conversely, Facebook have made about 98,516 changes to their platform in the last month — slight exaggeration but something changes in Facebook at least once a week. Grrr!
This week we’ve needed to find three types of businesses, and as we’re new to the Isle of Wight, we don’t have many contacts in the offline world. So instead of faffing around skimming through the Yellow Pages, Google etc, we decided to do what any Twitter fan would do — we waited for the IOW Twitter Chat.
So on Monday night , we hit #WightHour to look for the people we needed. By 9.30pm, we had sourced an electrician, IT person, and a cleaning company. Job done, easy.
Are you participating in your local Twitter Chat? Or in all the Twitter chats your ideal clients are? If not, you’re very likely losing business.
I like to compare the social media world to a shopping mall; Facebook is the shops around the edge of the mall where they set out their window display, then have to wait for customers to come inside.
Twitter is the row of stands that sit down the aisles of the mall. The advantage the stands have over the shops is that they are right in the middle of the crowds of shoppers. So they can easily move into the crowds and talk to people to get their attention.
And that’s exactly what you can do on Twitter. You don’t have to wait for people to come and find your page; you can get yourself into the crowd and initiate conversations yourself. Who do you want to tweet with? Just do it.
Veronica Pullen is a social media expert and small business coach. She is the author of the free ebook, Unlock the 3 Best Kept Secrets to Skyrocket your Sales from Twitter.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of blogging as a marketing tool. I will happily wax lyrical about the importance of generating quality content and how small businesses can make blogging central to a content marketing strategy. So I was delighted by the findings of a new survey that proves that blogging is “where it’s at”.
Published by Technorati, a leading US social media company, the 2013 Digital Influence Report presents insights into the use of social media following surveys of consumers, brand marketers and “influencers” — those people with a “greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace”.
The report reveals that there is overwhelming evidence that consumers rely heavily on blogs for advice and recommendations when making purchasing decisions.
One of the most significant findings is that blogs are right up there with “official” websites — 56% of consumers form opinions by visiting retail sites and 34% turn to brand sites, while an impressive 31% are motivated by what they read on blogs. This compares to a mere 8% of consumers who use Twitter for the same purpose.
And why do bloggers have such clout? Because they are generally considered to give honest and sincere reviews of products and services, they are giving their opinion and will tell it as they find it — what’s more, they aren’t being paid to write favourable endorsements. In other words, they are building trust.
This is something that can come out of even quite small blog communities — when it comes to blogging, size really doesn’t matter, something that the big brands just don’t seem to understand. Popularity doesn’t necessarily equate with trust, and a more intimate experience in a smaller community is much more likely to generate positive action.
Good quality content continues to be the key to a successful blog. Focusing on providing value to your readers through advice and opinion builds that all-important element of trust and will ensure a strong and loyal community. If you want to widen your net, use social media to “advertise” your blog. So Facebook and Twitter should be seen as a valuable means to an end. In other words, it’s your online word of mouth marketing that can direct people to your blog, get them reading your latest posts and then pick up on any calls to action.
Twitter undoubtedly has its place in your marketing toolbox, but your blog is, ultimately, the most valuable tool of all. Twitter, with its short and sweet 140 characters, can only convey so much about your brand and what you do or offer.
So it is through your blog that you will most effectively engage with your audience, influence their thinking and convert them into loyal customers. And that will only happen if they trust you. And trust is built organically through an ongoing dialogue — tricky to do within a mere 140 characters, but eminently possible through regular articles of 400-500 well chosen words.