How to Use Twitter for Searching, Engagement and Stalking with @BillBoorman #smlondon

SMLondon

This month’s meetup was the 3rd Annual Twitter Eve with Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman), founder of TruSocial, blogger at The Recruiting Unblog and keynote speaker.

Twitter expert and all-round social media conversation catalyst, Bill Boorman gave a presentation on how to get the most out of Twitter – for both personal and business use.

To tackle this, Bill spoke about how to use Twitter as a(n)…

  1. Introduction tool
  2. Engagement (interactions) tool
  3. Search tool
  4. Stalking tool

Introduction Tool

  • Bill Boorman - Social Media LondonSocial media used to be built on permission and demand – before interacting with each other, people had to explicitly request permission to do so. You still see this nowadays in Facebook with friend requests and LinkedIn with requests to connect. However, Twitter has revolutionised social media – it is not a platform where you necessarily have to know someone before connecting with them. This has influenced other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook has added the option to subscribe to people’s public status updates).
  • To look for people to connect to on Twitter based on a certain area or topic, don’t search for keywords in people’s bios, but rather search for “geek words”, the specialised ‘lingo’ used by people who are knowledgeable of the topic you’re searching for. This is also to make sure that you find people with similar interests as you.
  • Personal versus business profile: this mainly depends on you, whether you want to keep business and pleasure separate or whether you want to integrate the two. There are pros and cons on this which vary from scenario to scenario – whether you want to blog for a big company, your small business, whether you’re working freelance, on your own etc.
  • There’s a pleasure in finding people with something in common and connecting with them, and it’s a shame that in the modern age we seem to have forgotten how to do that in real life.

Engagement Tool

  • Engagement is a word commonly used in social media to talk about interactions and engaging with people, brands, businesses etc.
  • If you want people to interact with you, you need to be visible. In searches, Twitter uses a special algorithm that determines whether your tweets are going to be shown at the top of the search results or not. The tweets at the top of search results are the most popular tweets, and they’re the most popular because they’re the ones that have had the most interactions, hence they go viral. This is not compulsory – depending on your situation and depending on what your objective on Twitter is, you may or may not want to be easily visible. If you do want to be visible, interact.
  • To understand Twitter, think of it as a pub – if you get on particularly well in a pub, interacting on Twitter will come easy to you.
  • Links at the middle of your tweets are guaranteed to be open 5 times more than links placed at the end of the tweet (even though the latter seems to be the usual).
  • Most people use an application (mobile or tablet, or even web apps) rather than using the actual web version, and this is something to bear in mind when creating content online. Most tweets need to be mobile enabled as most tweets come from mobile. When you think Twitter think mobile.
  • The ‘recommendations’ on Twitter are based on areas of mutual interest, what you’re tweeting about, the kind of content you’re opening, and who you’re already connecting (and interacting) with.
  • Some brands are scared of Twitter (and of social media in general) because they’re scared of negative backlash and how freely they can receive negative feedback. However, the secret is in turning that negative into positive.
  • Competitions are great ways to tempt people in, but the next more important step is the attraction – giving your audience something to bring them back and keep them on your profile or site.
  • If you want to share business/professional content, start from LinkedIn. Even though LinkedIn is not one of the most engaged social media platforms, you’re guaranteed to have a more relevant audience on LinkedIn – the same audience who will like your content, share it, comment it etc. Your content will then be ranked higher, and at this point you can share it on Twitter and on other platforms, and this will work on your favour according to the Twitter algorithm.

Twitter

Search Tool

  • Twitter is great for search – you get a quick response, very often a lot quicker than Google. If you require an immediate answer to your questions, ask your Twitter followers, and you’re guaranteed to receive an answer.
  • Hashtags are keywords to search for content; consider Twitter as a search engine as well as a talk engine, where you can find content and conversations (for instance, #smlondon) To find the definition of  hashtags you’ve seen online, consult What the Trend (formerly known as What the Hashtag).
  • If you want to create a hashtag, create a short one – the shorter the better, as it leaves more room for content, but check to make sure that the hashtag hasn’t been taken already or doesn’t have any negative connotations first.
  • Twitter chats are public conversations that revolve around one hashtag. You can follow them and participate, just like we do with #smlondon.

Stalking Tool

  • Twitter lists are ways to observe people without following them. Bear in mind that there’s a limit of how many people you can add per list. You don’t need to create huge lists: rather than having 500 people in one list, have 10 lists of 50 people each for example.
  • Social Grow gives you great analytical information, as well as  searching for keywords and topics within tweets and automatically creating lists for you.
  • Bill’s time is split 60% in replying to Twitter mentions, 30% seeing what’s going on in his stream, and 10 % talking to people. It’s worth checking who you’re following on a regular basis and interacting with new people as well.

Applications

In conclusion, Bill shared a list of his favourite Twitter applications:

  • Tweetdeck, for engagement, search, and tracking content.
  • Social Grow, for stats and analysis.
  • Twiangulate, to analyse the connections between your followers and the followers of your friends or people you’d like to follow.
  • iTweetLive, to send personalised messages based on your audience.
  • Buffer, to see the time when your followers are most active and schedule your tweets based on those times.
  • List.li, to build and find lists more easily.
  • Listorious, as a directory of Twitter lists.
  • Blastflollow, to follow everyone who uses a certain hashtag, a “follow en masse”.
  • Untweep, to unfollow people automatically based on specified criteria (e.g. people who don’t follow back etc). (Not a personal favourite of Bill, but recommended by him.)
  • Storify, to curate content. You can curate content from an RSS feed from a Twitter link, which you can easily add as a column in applications such as Tweetdeck etc.
  • Visibli, to categorise content, expand your audience as well as promoting your services through links. It’s also a very good analytics app for Twitter.
  • Tweet Adder, to gain more followers
  • Tweet Cloud, to see in cloud format what people are talking about the most, trends etc.

The night ended with a very interesting question from a member of the public:

“What is the perfect tweet?”

Bill said that there’s no formula for this – sometimes when you’re trying hard to create the best tweet it doesn’t get any interaction from your followers, whereas it’s often the “unexpected tweets” that garner more response.

Jorgen intervened and mentioned one tweet by Dalai Lama: he was once asked on Twitter “How do I attract the perfect person in my life?”, to which Dalai Lama said “By being the perfect person”. This great food for thought applies very much to Twitter as well.

Social Media LondonThe 3rd Annual Twitter Eve concluded this year’s Social Media London meetups and we hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.

The next Social Media London meetup “Social Media Influence PeerEvening with PeerIndex Founder @Azeem” will be on Tuesday 22nd January 2013 at Hodge Jones & Allen LLP - and you can find out more here.

About the Author: Ben Donkor is a blogger and a Social Media Analyst & Executive for Groupon UK. He blogs about social media, technology and startups. You can connect with Ben on Twitter: @FR314.

Ben Donkor

Ben Donkor is a Social Media Analyst at Link Humans and BT. He blogs about social media, technology and startups (brnrd.me). He can be contacted on Twitter at @FR314.