Customer Development, Life Hacks, Social Networking

As a community manager, how should you be using Twitter?

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photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/

Imagine you are a community manager and today is your first day promoting the brand. How should you use Twitter? You might be overwhelmed with the river of information and wonder what are the “right” answers to questions like these:

  • How often should you tweet? And should you retweet?
  • How do you decide to follow people on Twitter? And should you unfollow?
  • Should you care about your follower to following ratio?
  • Will people share and discuss your content?

The Best Twitter Strategy (doesn’t exist)

I think the best Twitter strategy (and really, the best content strategy overall) for a community uses metrics like these and doesn’t live by them either. It’s important to measure your activity, and you should explain why you are participating in a channel.

Here are three core beliefs I think are important to build community on any channel:

  1. That you should share relevant, interesting content with your community and your industry;
  2. That the best content is sharable by nature because it teaches and informs;
  3. And that you build an ongoing community by writing and sharing that content.

Community=Actions + Beliefs

You can’t build a community on beliefs alone, so here are some tactics that are useful to consider when you are engaging on Twitter and elsewhere. The act of engaging in conversation means that you should do more than just share your own posts or your own news. You should ask questions. You should always respond to conversations, even when they feel difficult to start or to continue. And you should understand that Twitter is a fluid, changing medium.

The “rules” for engagement are changing constantly as well. Here are some ideas to consider to help you build the kind of community you want. Post as much as you want to – and understand that this may drive some people away. Follow as much as you want to do – and understand that the dynamics of Twitter favor a high follower to following ratio. For your next 10 posts, tweet 1 about yourself, 2 about your firm, 4 about your industry, and 1 just for fun.

Be A Human.

When you reinforce your brand message in the style and tone of the communication channel, people come back. And they talk to you. You should talk back to them and engage in real conversation.

So are all of those metrics up top important? Yes, and they are not the only thing you should consider. You should build real relationships offline with people whom you meet online when you building a community on Twitter or elsewhere. That interaction at a conference or an event brings a community to life. In the meantime, share great content and make sure you talk to the people around you (offline and online.)

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4 thoughts on “As a community manager, how should you be using Twitter?

  1. I like this direction, Greg, that “firm” shoulds probably don’t exist, though there are certainly some overall-typically-work-well shoulds. I’ve been a community manager for 3 years now for 2 different industries (education + tech) and they truly are different cultures.

    As there are different shoulds for each sub-culture, I think that “listening first” has a lot to be said for. Follow 5-10 leaders in your industry. Follow 5-10 people that each of them exchange with professionally and just listen for a week or two. See how they’re engaging and then slowly start to engage them on that similar level (all the while being yourself as you said). If you’re faking it, BS radars will be going off as social is social and there’s nothing worse than “faking social to get something else”.

    No need to hurry anything either… or to trying to engage anyone too “directly” at first. I tend to favorite/retweet a bit to get on someone’s radar and then interact in a more natural way (and not like someone coming from “nowhere”).

    Cheers,
    Brad

    1. Brad – thanks for the comment! Your suggestions are spot on – engage with the goal of … engaging and learning about the people who talk to you. If they stick around, you’re building a community.

  2. You get it so right on here Greg! Like I’m always trying to say: There’s nothing that different about how one should communicate and network online than how we have done it FTF throughout history. The bigger differences have to do with collapsing time and space rather than communicating or building authentic relationships in a fundamentally different way.

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