Social Media 101

Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) of Engage365 and Jay Daughtry of @ChatterBachs co-facilitated a session that introduced participants to some of the basics of social media, particularly the process of creating a presence on Twitter and getting the most out of it.

Fryatt said participating in Twitter only generates value when people have a reason for being there, and marketing or business development is one of the best. She said much of her own marketing is centered on a weekly blog that she promotes via Twitter and Facebook. The strategy began with a deliberate effort to establish a Twitter network by following people, engaging with them, and retweeting their posts.

She encouraged participants to use the Engage, Inform, Retweet (EIR) system to make sure their Twitter activity struck the right balance between talking to people and asking questions, tweeting links that might be of interest to a group of followers, and retweeting useful material that followers have posted. The approach serves two purposes: it shares useful information, while promoting the source of the original tweet. Daughtry said many Twitter users pursue a similar strategy, whether or not they assign it a formal name.

Daughtry asked participants their Twitter profile names and went through several pages to distinguish good, informative profiles from others that needed improvement. He said the best profiles explain who a user is and what s/he does, but also provide some kind of personal information that will help followers connect on a more human level. An account intended for business use can include a photo of a product, but a shot of a person is always easier for followers to relate to.

Daughtry and Fryatt said a Twitter user who has far more followers than people he or she is following might unintentionally convey a degree of arrogance. It also discourages potential followers from reaching out—if they’re following in the hope of being retweeted, a significantly smaller number of “followed” Twitter contacts will make those retweets look unlikely.

“We like to follow people who are going to follow us back,” Fryatt said. She explained that she doesn’t follow everyone who follows her, but she does reach out to people who are engaging, informing, and retweeting, even if she doesn’t see an immediate topic of common interest. If there’s a possibility that they will redistribute her material, the connection is worth having.

Much of the session was devoted to basic Twitter skills, beginning with how to send a tweet or shorten a URL. Fryatt recommended using Twitter tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to pre-schedule tweets so that they go out gradually through a day, rather than sending them in a large block that followers will interpret as spam. She said users are more likely to have their material retweeted if they limit their volume to one per hour.

The group briefly discussed Facebook, with most participants indicating that they used the network mainly to keep in touch with friends and family. Fryatt described one friend who had generated a measurable return on investment using Facebook as her main marketing tool. She and Daughtry encouraged one participant to use LinkedIn for her job search, explaining that the system is at least as important as a resume, perhaps more so.

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