Mankinis really do enter into this; be patient.

unicorn in mankiniI’ve been active on Twitter for 4 or so years now. Initially using my own account for work (@bduhon) then creating an AIIM account to represent the AIIM Community (initially @AIIMcommunity until I realized I could save a few characters by changing to @AIIMcmty). What follows is a short overview of what I’ve found to be effective.

1. Find a dashboard you like and stick to it — I like one with columns, but your mileage may differ. As the number of folks you follow increases; using Twitter itself to find interesting content or talk to other people becomes hard. I like Hootsuite, even the free version has a number of columns so that you can track hashtags you’re interested in. For $6/month, you can get the pro version which has a few more bells and whistles to it; including some stats (more on that below). Here’s an article with 5 choices. I’d would also add Sprout Social, which is overkill for what I need; but looks like a pretty sweet tool if you’re a larger company or managing several social accounts and campaigns. [It’s also pricey, a quick peek shows their starting package is now $39/month instead of a the $10/month plan they used to have.]

Other dashboard advantages:

  • I particularly enjoy Hootsuite because of the URL shortener. It only works in Hootsuite; but since that’s what I use; not a problem.
  • I like the multiple columns and the ability to quickly look at hashtags I’m interested in.
  • Built-in analytics.
  • Managing multiple accounts. Hootsuite allows me to post to Facebook and all of my Twitter accounts (I jointly run @AIIMinfo and @AIIMcon).

2. Create “favorites” lists. I suck at this and waste time because of it. But creating a list of favorites that you follow allows you to enjoy Twitter more. For example, favoriting #Saints and #NFL related folks allows you to quickly skim through that news without having it all mixed up in your regular columns.

3. Get used to missing things. You’re going to miss interesting tweets and conversations. It’s ok to turn it off. (Unless you’re a company using Twitter as an adjunct customer outreach platform; then you better figured that out and not miss anything.)

4. Be generous with your sharing. Depending on the social media expert/guru/though-leader; there are various ratios of X number of your tweets to retweets to sharing other content to conversations that one “should” follow. Boils down to: share more than you spout off about your own company or genius theories.

5. If you’re automatically DMing folks; stop it. Stop it now. If you have time to welcome new followers; wunderbar (and how do you have the time? No, really, please share that secret). If not, we’ll understand — keep being interesting on Twitter and we’ll keep following.

6. Schedule tweets. This used to be heresy. I always figured that if Guy Kawasaki did it then it was OK for me to do it. I saw somewhere that the average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. Folks dip into and out of Twitter all the time. New folks start following you all the time (you hope!). Scheduling the same tweet multiple times will increase the chance someone sees it. If you have an interesting thought or article you really want to share, schedule it out. This also helps you avoid 10 tweets in a row in someone’s stream, which is annoying, if you see a bunch of items you want to RT — spread ’em out a bit. If you’re using Twitter at least partly as an outlet to let your followers know about new content on your site (in some ways as a partial newsletter); you will do so by sending multiple copies of the same tweet; rather than a single tweet of the piece of content.

7. Be yourself. For us shy types; sometimes this is easier to do behind the keyboard. Remember, it’s OK to have a personality, even when tweeting officially on behalf of your company. [Caveat: if you’re an ass — unless that’s your shtick — at least give being nice a try.]

8. Should go without saying, but don’t protect your Tweets. If you’re locking down tweets to select people; maybe you should just stay on Facebook — look, you have more than 140 characters there; now go play in that sandbox instead. Seriously, if you’re legitimately worried about giving away corporate secrets, just maybe social media isn’t the right outlet for your company (no matter what all the Web 5.23 buzzword bangers are saying).

9. Figure out why you’re using Twitter. Twitter might not be for you or your company. That’s OK. Facebook and Pinterest aren’t great tools for the org I work for; it is what it is. Are you tweeting company news? Attracting customers? Customer service? Selling stuff? Learning? Tracking competitors? Establishing yourself as a smart guy/gal on a topic? Or just dabbling and following along with all of the celebrities? Whatever it is, figure it out and do that. Near as I can tell; there is no one path to Twitter truth.

10. Be nice. It’s easy to misunderstand meaning on Twitter. Nuance is hard in 140 characters. Change your default mental setting to “They’re not trying to offend me.” Remember it’s a real person on the other end of your diatribe. This holds true even if you’re complaining about a service.

And, finally.

11. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Yes, it’s true, unless you’re a restaurant critic (or eating something truly worthy of the word “epic”), no one really cares what you had for lunch (move that conversation for your close friends to enjoy on Facebook). But, amidst the struggle for visibility on Twitter these days — have fun. Engage in a random conversation (though be less random when you are serving as the official handle of your organization — there’s a difference between having a personality and making your company look stupid. Here’s how you tell — if you’re mentally looking over your shoulder as you are about to send a Tweet, you might want to switch to an “opinions are my own” handle.

And that leads us to mankinis.

First off, it’s never really OK to talk about mankinis. However. I don’t remember how this started, but a year(ish) ago there was a Friday afternoon Twitter conversation going on about — something. Someone, maybe me, brought up the word “mankini” to which @chris_P_walker put up the most God-awful photo of a group of non-in-shape men in black mankinis. At this point, I switched from @AIIMcmty to @bduhon to carry on the conversation. I also learned to click on links from Chris with eyes slightly averted.

On the plus side, after numerous other mankini-related comments; we have the fantastic unicorn in a mankini image.

And apologies for the long title — too much Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid — “Hey, Rocky! Watch me…” anyway.

Thanks to Damian Webber for his #Avatarondemand original.

Thanks for reading. Comments, criticisms, and witticisms welcomed.


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