On December 6, 2010, I was privileged to be a guest on #MMChat (Marketer Monday Chat), hosted and created by @JeffAshcroft of @TheSocialCMO fame. My esteemed PR colleague, Amy Howell, owner of @HowellMarketing Strategies, was featured with me and our topic was The Impact and Value of Social Media in PR. You can find the transcript here and glean some amazing insight from practitioners around the world. Not only was it a fun and exhilarating online experience, it also prompted this post on Twitter and its PR potential.
The digital channels can be consuming, and it’s important for those of us in business—whose first goal is to run a profitable company to sustain our employees and our clients—to stay abreast of communication trends. To make sure that we achieve optimum PR health for ourselves and our clients, here’s a quick Twitter primer. No more excuses for PR colleagues who say “I don’t get Twitter.” If the government is using social media for PR, and the business community is not, there’s a disconnect.
1. Go to Twitter.com and create a profile. Use words that you want to be searched for. Upload a professional photo for your avatar. You may end up in a CEO’s office someday, like Ford CEO Alan Mulally, with a blog post that you wrote on his desk. Do you really want to explain the inappropriate, not-for-business beach photo that is your social media moniker? Be safe. Stay business.
2. Add your company website to your profile and a link from your site back to your Twitter page. This is your hub for digital information. Make it very easy for people to find you and connect with you.
3. Download Tweetdeck.com and use it for easy following and searching. Create columns for conversations that you’re interested in: #energy #PR #recruitment #SM #CRE (commercial real estate) #marketing #Ford #engineering
4. Create columns for chats. The people participating in Twitter chats are probably influencers in their fields—researchers, media, communicators, writers, and placemakers. Follow #MMChat #Journchat #Careerchat #Blogchat and more.
5. Look for people who have something to say—you don’t have to agree with them but you can learn from them—and start following their followers.
6. If you’re in the energy conversation, follow @RunOnEnergy; if you do business with the federal government, follow @GovLoop and @Hal_Good; if you are interested in Marcellus Shale, follow @RoyJWells and @AmySp; if you’re interested in all things SEO, follow @AlanBr82; if you’re interested in commercial real estate follow @Michael_MBA, @BarbiReuter, and @RichardEJordan2.
If you are interested in PR, follow @HowellMarketing and @DebWeinstein; if you want to know about trends, follow @GlenGilmore and @MarkWShaefer. If you want to learn more about newsmakers, follow @2morrowKnight and @WSJ. If you want to see how big brands use social media, follow @ScottMonty, @ColetteCote and @TomMoradpour. If you want to know all things social media, begin with @MarkRaganCEO, @SocialNetDaily, and @TheSocialCMO. These are simple first steps.
7. Return to Twitter or Tweetdeck for a few minutes each day to favorite tweets and reach out to people.
8. Don’t be afraid to Direct Message people who you would like to connect with offline. Quite often I DM a person to ask if I may call them. I might need a quote for an article, a connection for a client, or an opportunity to bypass a gatekeeper. With clients in the federal space, I noticed all the smart and connected information @Hal_Good was sharing. I asked him in a Direct Message on Twitter for permission to call. He sent me his phone number, and we had an amazing, insightful conversation about both of our businesses. And this was on his day off! The people on Twitter are talented and gracious.
9. Share links that might help others. And use Twitter to share the great things your clients are doing in the traditional space. Reach out to media. @MeganHealey has discovered real-time stories from her connections on Twitter. Once you pitch an opinion editorial, write the article, and it’s printed, then you can tweet the URL, ask for comments on the article online, reply to comments, monitor the social chatter, and tweet the link again. That’s serious Return on Investment, Return on Engagement, and Return on Influence.
If you believe knowledge is currency and keeping pace in the digital space imperative, then Twitter is a must in your PR toolbox—for yourself and your clients.