SM & Your Eyecare Business: Twitter – Lesson 6
Twitter launched as the internet’s first “micro-blogging” site. A “micro-blog” is a blog post whose content is condensed to 140 characters or less. “Tweeting” for our purposes does not describe the sound one makes when passing gas – it is known as the act of posting on the social media suite Twitter.
On this information highway where you get run over if you are too slow to absorb information and where attention deficit is an asset, it is helpful to receive information in the form of one-liners detailing information you are seeking and enabling you to delve further if you wish. Or move on to the next bit of information if you don’t. When you look at all the information that comes at you through social media, the value “Tweeting” brings to the table quickly becomes apparent. It is a very effective way to sort information. A Tweet can contain links to blogs, videos, photos or almost any “linkable” content.
For my social media efforts, the value of Twitter is two-fold:
1. It acts as a filter, allowing me to quickly and efficiently scour through the information my sources post without having to delve to deeply and spend too much time, and
2. It allows me to get my message out in succinct, readable form and draw people towards my social media efforts.
I’ll admit, it took a while to understand how to effectively use Twitter and even longer to appreciate its value, but now it is a cornerstone of my social media campaign. It also helps that I am the poster child for attention deficit disorder.
The idea behind Twitter for Business is to attract as many followers as you can. When people follow you, they are giving you carte blanche to push information into their lives. Like the other social media suites, your best strategy is to push helpful information that drives people to your blog or your other social media efforts. Don’t piss off your followers by trying to sell things to people or post less-than-credible content. These are sure ways to scare potential followers away or lose current followers. Like Facebook and Linked-In, the more “followers” you have on Twitter the larger the group is that you can get your message out to. When you “Tweet” people who “follow” you may read your message. An even smaller percentage of people will find your message interesting enough to click through to your blog, your Facebook or your LinkedIn to see what else you have to say and may follow you there also, increasing your following across the board. An even smaller group of people may find your “Tweet” so compelling they’ll “Re-Tweet” it to their network, and people on a totally separate network than yours will be exposed to what you have to say and may end up following you as well. An interesting or compelling post can result in hundreds, thousands or in the case of actor Aston Kutcher even millions of Twitter followers. If your Tweet is of interest to another person, a link within the Tweet allows them to travel to get that information. If that link is to one of your social media efforts, you get search engine credits for each time someone visits your efforts.
When trying to attract followers, it is important to remember that your goal should not be to drive people directly into your business. Like Facebook, there will be a small group of people over time who might find you and live close enough geographically and show up in your exam chair, but gearing your efforts towards this market is not efficient. You will use Twitter as a soap-box to project news from your other social media efforts, such as your blog or your Facebook page, and in doing so will increase your rank in the major search engines (see my post SM & Your Eyecare Business: Facebook for Business – Lesson 5 which describes using social media for search engine optimization). You will show up ahead of your competitors in the major search engines because you have social media campaigns around your specialty that are up-to-date and relevant to the subject matter your clients are seeking. The major search engines have replaced the yellow pages for people searching for local services, so if you are not coming up above your competitors in search engines, potential clients are not finding you.
• Your Tweet shouldn’t fill up the entire 140 characters – you should leave approx 15 to 20 character spaces so people can Re-Tweet your content, or else your Tweet will only go out to your followers and won’t have a chance of becoming widely disseminated.
• You need to participate on Twitter – stagnant Twitter handles will dwindle in members. If you are inactive for as short a time as a week, you will see the number of followers decline, so stay active!
• Don’t push product or services too much on Twitter. It is OK to hit your network with a pitch every once and a while, but people selling on Twitter appear cheesy and if you are perceived in this manner it will hurt your campaign.
• Post links to your blog with teasers like “New glaucoma therapy…” and attach a tiny URL to your post. - People interested may end up at your blog and may subscribe to it, increasing the blogs popularity, or Re-Tweet your blog URL so your blogs popularity increases, increasing its chances of being found in search engines. Don’t give away the farm in your Tweet – keep it short and simple and use it as a tool to draw people deeper into your social media effort.
• Participate in the discussion. - Getting Re-Tweeted is nice, but Re-Tweeting someone else’s post is also nice. When you participate in the discussion through Re-Tweets and Replys, the major search engines know and “prop” you up. When you don’t participate, you are nowhere and you get no search engine credit. It is helpful to reply to people and Re-Tweet them; you get respect and develop interesting relationships that open doors and help your search engine rankings in the process.
• Set up a nice profile. – Always use your real name so people know who they are dealing with. Put a colorful and interesting background on your home page and have a powerful introduction message.
• “Follow” people and they will follow you. - It’s Twitter “courtesy” and an easy and quick way to build your twitter network. Don’t use the programs that cost a lot of money and promise you followers, you just end up pissing people off, getting a lot of junk in your Twitter account and having to “trim the tree” eventually anyway.
• Keep your “Follow” to “Followers” ratio even, or have slightly less people you follow than follow you. - This gives your account the appearance of being healthy, and people are more likely to follow you if you have a healthy account than if you appear “spammy”.
• Get creative. - I struggled for a long time to gain followers, and as I became more familiar with Twitter I learned how to use its “tools” such as Hashtags (#) to increase the popularity of my efforts. The first Hashtag I created was #badvisiondecision. Whenever I would encounter a patient that made a decision that could negatively impact their vision or their eyes I share it with Twitter (of course not mentioning names). For example, I posted the following information after I had a patient who got hot sauce in her eye and tagged it like this:
- @EyeInfo Hot Sauce on Finger-In-Eye #badvisiondecision
Nathan Bonilla-Walford posted the fact that smoking was bad for people’s eyes like this:
- @BrightEyesTampa smoking #badvisiondecision
I also created #MedicalMonday for people to give props to their health care providers. On Mondays, people type the twitter handle of their favorite health care providers or of people who are posting good health information on Twitter and follow it with a #MedicalMonday hashtag, where the Tweets are grouped together for the benefit of everyone who wants to review them.
These efforts among others help to boost my Twitter profile and keep me active as a member in the Twitter community even when I can’t actively log on. People appreciate the information and a certain percentage of them, when they come across your information will appreciate it enough to follow you, and that is what you hope for.
Next week I will discuss using Twitter tools including Hashtags and suites that enable you to follow more than one social media account at a time.
Got a question on your own businesses social networking efforts? Don’t hesitate to ask!
- Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care
Twitter Handle: @EyeInfo