I’m speaking next month at a conference about Twitter. To prepare for this, I’ve been asking people in the community why they don’t currently use Twitter at work or for their business. The reasons reveal all sorts of misconceptions about Twitter and its use. It’s good to get those wrong ideas out in the open and let the light of day heal people with right information.
One of the most common misconceptions about Twitter is that is takes a lot of time. There’s a truth and a myth here. First, the truth is that some people can spend their whole day chatting on Twitter and never accomplish anything. That’s not a criticism, but it isn’t great behavior for the workplace, or for a small business person. Fortunately, it’s a myth that Twitter requires a lot of time. I consider myself active on Twitter with two accounts and I spent about 30 minutes a day on Twitter. The contacts I make and the information I gather would take me much longer than that to research and find through other means. For me, this is time very well spent.
So if you don’t use Twitter because you think it takes a lot of time, or if you are not comfortable yet with your Twitter routines, I’ve got some information that will really rock your world.
Basic Twitter Activities
In my opinion, there are three general categories of activities you should perform on Twitter to maintain your community and fulfill your Twitter goals. Each of these are equally important, but they take different amounts of time.
Communicate With Your Community
This is the biggest activity on Twitter, sending tweets and reading tweets. The whole purpose of being on Twitter is to engage your community to accomplish your personal Twitter goal. This is where you fulfill your goal.
Throughout each day, you perform these acts:
- Compose and send tweets.
- Read direct messages sent to you and reply.
- Read @replies sent to you and reply.
- Read (some say skim) the timeline.
- Follow interesting links in tweets.
- Reply to tweets.
I check Twitter after I complete a chunk of work, usually once every hour or two. In five minutes or less, I do the follow (in this order):
- Check for direct messages and reply.
- Check for @replies and reply.
- Skim the recent timeline (one page) and reply to tweets.
- Click on interesting links (sometimes bookmark them for later reading).
- Retweet the really good or important stuff
I usually write tweets while I’m checking my email/RSS reader. I get a lot of newsletters and blog posts coming in, and when I find something outstanding or interesting for one of my two Twitter communities, I write a tweet. It’s my way of sharing the gems from the river of information that I skim every day. The time it takes to craft tweets gets incorporated into my email/RSS time, and most days adds another 5-10 minutes to my email time.
In the beginning, it takes some time to define your Twitter community and figure out your follow policy so they fulfill your Twitter goal. But after you get those basics figured out, you can do your community management in about 10 minutes once a week. Here’s what I do to help you figure out what might work for you.
- I review my new followers and decide whom to follow back. (I have different follow back policies on each of my accounts).
- I use Twitter’s search function to find potential new people to follow. (I have a list of keywords that I’ve refined over the weeks to help me pinpoint people appropriate for my Twitter goals.)
- I briefly review the list of people I follow and unfollow anyone who has generated more noise than signal (my assessment), or who hasn’t tweeted in a while.
Throughout the week, I perform one other community management function. As I skim the timeline, I notice whom my friends engage through @replies, and if I see the same name a few times, I check out that person’s archive. Occasionally, I add a new person to my community during the week using this technique.
What are people saying about you and your company, products, and brand on Twitter? This is as important for a solopreneur or consultant as it is for big companies with famous brands.
There are many ways to tap into the hidden conversations about you, your company, and your brand on Twitter.
- Use the Twitter search feature and generate an RSS feed.
- Use one of the many Twitter alert services, such as TweetBeep or Twilert to send you an email.
I spent less than five minutes a week reviewing these findings. Based on how often you find something here, you may want to check more frequently and spent more time. Larger companies or companies with a larger public presence devote significant resources to online reputation management.
That’s it. That’s how I spent approximately 2:30 on Twitter each week. Your time and activities may vary because of your Twitter goal, your company size, and other factors.
What do you think? Have I missed something? How do you spend your time on Twitter?