Twitter building blocks

 The most common mistake I find people making when they want to get started with Twitter is the assumption that it’s “quick and easy.”  The truth is that this is just not the case.

While it may well be quick and easy to set yourself up with a Twitter account and start tweeting, this does not mean that your presence will be a success. In fact it probably won’t because there’s a hell of a lot of planning that needs to go into setting out your stall.

So if you want to do it right, here’s some building blocks. If you like, it’s my own 10 Commandments of Twitter.

  1. Get your name right.
    Make sure that your Twitter name tells people who you are. Acronyms don’t work because they are impenetrable outside of your own circle.

    You may not be able to fit your organisation’s name into the amount of letters available. If that’s the case, go for something which best represents you and give a full description in the profile.

  2. Assign responsibilities.
    Who will be tweeting on behalf of your organisation?
    Who will source the content?
    Who will monitor your stream?
    Who will respond to questions?
    Who will cover for holidays/sickness?

    If there are multiple owners of the account, list them by name in the profile. This openness takes away one of the most difficult barriers in government communications.

  3. Set goals.
    What are you trying to achieve? Is this just to push your news items onto Twitter? Or are you trying to engage your audience? Are you trying to raise awareness?

    Whatever the goal is will affect how and what you say and how you react. Record your goal and evaluate your activity against it in 6 months – 1 year.

  4. Timetable activity.
    Social media can give people the impression that you are available 24/7. In reality this is not always the case.

    Work out when you can realistically be available on Twitter and stick to those hours. You may not want to publish this but any deviation from your core hours will affect expectations.

  5. Set up your dashboard (Hootsuite)
    Visit http://www.hootsuite.com/ and add your Twitter account.
    Spend some time learning what Hootsuite will allow you to do. The key things are extra columns to track your @mentions, DMs, keyword searches and peer lists.

    Use Hootsuite to manage your presence at a glance and save time.

  6. Build search queries.
    Think carefully about what information you want to keep up with on Twitter. Ideally you want to be finding comments from people relating to your field along with content from similar organisations.

    Add these searches as columns in Hootsuite.

  7. Find similar accounts.
    Do some research into other organisations who’s content you find useful. This is inevitably going to be useful for followers of yours.

    Make a Twitter list of these similar accounts and add them as a column in Hootsuite. Monitor this stream and try to retweet any content which is likely to be of benefit to you and your followers.

  8. Content strategy.
    So you will be tweeting interesting stuff from people you follow and content that you have uncovered. You also have your own content to promote.

    Outside of this, what else do you have to say? Will you be generating content in order to engage with your audience, like a blog with comments enabled? Will you be highlighting content which colleagues are creating?

    Work out a plan of what content you will be pushing and how you are going to keep on getting it.

  9. Monitoring.
    Monitoring may not be done by the same person who tweets the content. Just make sure that the team talk to each other and that anything which is picked up in monitoring is fed into a process for tweeting and/or engagement.
  10. Evaluation.
    After 6 months – 1 year, look at your performance in relation to the goals you set out at the beginning.
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