Twitter was founded in 2006, has 310 million monthly active users today and is the social media darling of TV. So why is radio still confused about how to use it? [Read more…] about A Guide To Sucking Less At Twitter
No matter what the state of your social-media usage, there’s room to improve your strategy and expand your business. But where to focus your efforts? I offer a quick rundown on which social platforms might help you and how in an interview for the Verizon Wireless Small Business Guide.
Thumbnail photo credit: Verizon Wireless
I had the pleasure of speaking with Fred LeFebvre on 1370 WSPD/Toledo regarding the role social media played in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Listen to the podcast here.
Twitter looks fun, but you don’t understand exactly how it works?
How it Works
- You have 140 characters for each tweet. You’ll want to craft your tweets efficiently to convey your message within the character limit, but using too many abbreviations may make the tweet difficult to understand. Keep it simple, and don’t try to say too much in one tweet.
- Include shortened links. Long links take up precious real estate within that 140 character limit. If you use a third-party application like Hootsuite, TweetDeck or Sprout Social, the links will be automatically shortened for you. You can also use bit.ly or ow.ly to manually generate a short link from your original.
- Although you have 140 characters, it’s smart to leave room for ‘RT @yourusername’ so that your tweet is re-tweet friendly. Calculate the number of characters it takes to RT you and subtract that from the 140 character limit to determine your ideal character count.
Getting Set Up
- Choose a profile picture that represents your brand. If you’re a heavy metal rock star, a headshot in a suit and tie doesn’t suit you (no pun intended). Are you happy, brooding, serious or silly? Use your profile picture to convey your brand personality.
- Craft your bio wisely. You have 160 characters to explain what you’re all about. Include information about you and what you’ll tweet about. Try to make it interesting by showing some personality, too.
- Determine what you’ll tweet about. People use Twitter for different things. Some tweet industry news or helpful blogs, some tweet snarky personal observations, some use Twitter for conversation. Define your content strategy and stick to it so your other users know what to expect when they follow you.
- Create a Twitter background. If you use Photoshop or another graphic design program, you can create a custom background with dimensions of 2000×1200 pixels. If not, Twitter has some snazzy options to choose from in your profile settings, or you can hire me to create one for you (shameless self promotion!).
Understanding Twitter Lingo
- What are all these number signs? They’re called hashtags, and are used in two ways:
First, a hashtag categorizes your tweet. For example, if I add ‘#SocialMedia’ to the end of my tweet, others searching for tweets on social media will find mine.
Hashtags are also used as a way to display attitude, feeling, thought, humor, or personality. For example, a (male, non-Mom, radio) friend sent me a funny tweet asking about a Mom’s night out with the hashtag ‘#AwkwardMomsSwayBackAndForth’. (By the way, my awkward dancing has nothing to do with being a Mom and everything to do with being a sweeeeet dancer.)
Hashtags aren’t case sensitive, and you can include one anywhere within your tweet. Just don’t include irrelevant categorizing hashtags, or you’ll be considered a spammer.
- Aaahhhhh! What’s RT? MT? @? Twitter’s unique lingo may intimidate you at first, but it’s really quite simple once you get it. Here are some definitions that you’ll need right off:
- RT: Retweet, RT followed by @username indicates that the user is sharing another person’s tweet with their followers; considered a compliment to receive a RT
- @: Tags another user when followed by their Twitter user name; your tweet will appear in their Interactions or Mentions screen.
- MT: Modified tweet, a RT that is modified for character count or relevance but still gives credit to the original user
- #FF: Follow Friday, a recommendation to your followers to follow another user
- DM: Direct Message, a private message on Twitter; these are rarely used due to the high amounts of spam and auto-DMs
For a complete and hilarious list of all abbreviations you may encounter, read this blog by @PookyH.
- Give credit where it’s due. If you share a tweet or blog you saw from someone else’s tweet, credit them with a retweet or mention. Giving someone else credit doesn’t diminish your own credibility, it enhances it.
- Check your @mentions often. Users love Twitter because it is very much a ‘real time’ platform. Don’t let days go by without responding.
- Be authentic. Success on Twitter doesn’t come from copying the pros, it comes from being you. One of my favorite quotes is from Joss Whedon: “Always be yourself, unless you suck”.
Scheduling vs. Automating
There are many applications available that make it easier to schedule tweets in advance. Scheduling tweets ensures you’re reaching different people by tweeting at different times of the day, and makes it easier to share content without tweeting all at one time. Hootsuite and Buffer App both offer fabulous options for scheduling.
Automation is a hot button, and is not to be confused with scheduling. Scheduling is crafting your tweet and setting it up to be sent at a later time. Automating refers to the use of apps that tweet for you automatically. For example, you could use automation to tweet a specific blog every time a new one is published, without you ever reading that blog.
Whether you decide to pursue either, remember that neither replace real-time interaction on Twitter. In other words, you can’t schedule and run. You’ll receive @mentions and RTs from your tweets in real time, and you should engage often.
Growing Your Audience
So how do you find people to follow? How do you get others to follow you back? Here are some tips that may help:
- Tweet share-worthy content. The best way to grow your audience is to produce good content. Use hashtags to categorize your tweets so people who share your interests will see them.
- Share the content of others. Seriously, sharing is caring. Build relationships with other people on Twitter by sharing their tweets, blogs, etc. If your content is strong and relevant to their followers, they’ll return the favor.
- Use Twellow. It’s an online directory for Twitter. Sign up yourself, and choose categories that represent your brand and your tweets. Search those categories to follow people who share common interests.
Anything you learned the hard way when you first started on Twitter? Leave a comment and share your knowledge with newbies. It’s good karma.
You know what else is good karma? Following me on Twitter @StephanieWinans.
The request lines don’t ring very often anymore. So, how can we make radio interactive without callers? Luckily, social media and texting became popular about the time calling in to a radio show became unpopular.
We have the opportunity to make our one-way medium a two-way interaction between us and the listeners. We also know that radio is a secondary medium. Listeners are doing something else while they listen. Why don’t we take advantage of this knowledge? Television does.
1. Creating a Generic Hashtag for the Show
Every show on TV advertises its own Twitter hashtag where viewers can talk about the show. Create a hashtag for shows on your station so listeners can tweet their thoughts and opinions.
2. Showing Affinity for a Personality’s Polarizing Opinion
Last season, The X-Factor encouraged viewers to tweet #IAmSimon, #IAmLA, #IAmPaula or #IAmNicole to show their affinity for a certain judge’s comments during the show. The X-Factor generated an average of 94,000 social comments per episode, as recorded by Bluefin. How? By getting creative with hashtags, and promoting them constantly throughout the show.
Follow The X Factor model and also use hashtags for polarizing on-air topics. If you and your co-host have opposite opinions, encourage listeners to tweet who they agree with by creating unique hashtags. Plan this when you’re prepping for tomorrow’s show, so you can promote it before you begin the topic, as well as during the topic and afterward.
3. Creating Specific Hashtags for Real-Time Interaction
According to Carri Bugbee, the #TrumpRoast hashtag was used more than 27,000 times on Twitter during the March 2011 telecast of the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.
Comedy Central gave #TrumpRoast its own hashtag because they knew this episode would generate a reaction. If you have a hot feature that incites a huge reaction from listeners, create a separate hashtag for that feature. Promote it each time the feature runs on-air, and use the hashtag in your own tweets from the station or show accounts.
Include listener comments on-air in real time to make the show itself more interactive.
4. Developing Promotions Around Their Experience
The Shark Week Photo Frenzy – a call for fans to submit photos of how they celebrate Shark Week, got 600,000 page views and over 1,000 submissions. The Facebook Page accrued 30,000 fans in one day, and 116,000 in one week. The ratings result? The highest number of viewers in Shark Week history.
Dateline did something similar with their “How do you Dateline” promotion. They encouraged listeners to share their experience with the show by sending in video to Dateline producers about their routine around the program or tweeting #howdoyoudateline. They saw a huge response: over a 10 month span, the show’s audience on Facebook has grown to 173,000 users from 47,000. Their followers on Twitter doubled.
Keep your highest-rated show top of mind by creating a long-term promotion around your listeners’ experience. How do they listen? Are they listening at work, at the gym, in carpool? Ask them to share with a video or via Twitter. Award a prize to your favorite each week, and give individual shout-outs on-air. For example, “This song is for Vickie, who says she works out during the show”.
5. Driving Traffic to Your Website
According to to lostremote.com, The Food Network generated 640,000 page views in May from Pinterest alone with a strategy that focuses on both show content and talent.
Create strong website content that’s worthy of sharing. Share it via social media with carefully crafted teases to incite a click through. Measure your results frequently to determine which types of posts cause a spike in web traffic.
6. Listening to Feedback
Rick Haskins, The CW’s Executive Vice President of Marketing and Digital Programs, admits to lostremote.com that they not only listen, but respond to feedback. When viewers were watching CW shows illegally on pirate sites to avoid the three day delay on the CW app, the CW addressed the issue with the introduction of next day streaming on their own site.
Listen to the feedback. Respond with a solution when possible. If you don’t, your listeners might go somewhere else to find the content they’re looking for.
7. Providing Training for Staff
According to Rick Haskins, the CW provides social media training for their shows’ stars and productions staff.
If your Programming or Promotions staff isn’t capitalizing on the opportunities they have with social media, train them. Hold brainstorming meetings to encourage sharing among stations and shows, or hire someone (me!) who can teach them how to create a strategy that produces results.
Have you tried these TV tricks on your show? How did it work out?
Also published in Radio Ink Magazine