Twitter tips for business

Tallulah Habib
By Tallulah Habib
Johannesburg, 02 Aug 2013

ITWeb Social Media Summit 2013

From CIOs to internal social media activists and external business consultants, one of the top questions you're asking is: "What do I need to do to show a return for my business on my social media strategy?" For the answer to this question and many more, attend ITWeb's annual Social Media Summit. For more information, click here.

Jodene Shaer, social media publicist and consultant and co-founder of LifeologySA, has nearly 33 000 followers on Twitter. Recently, her campaign around Jo'burg Theatre's production of Starlight Express made the opening night trend worldwide on Twitter.

ITWeb invited Shaer to speak at its Social Media Summit on 14 August. She will be presenting on the topic of making Twitter work for the business.

She delivered a sneak peek of what attendees can expect, in a Twitter interview ("twinterview") conducted with ITWeb on Thursday. Our readers were encouraged to join. Below is a transcript.

ITWeb: Let's cut to the chase, what do you think the secret has been to your Twitter success?

Jodene Shaer: I defined my online persona, followed back and responded to each Tweet. I set out to bond and not attract an audience.

ITWeb: How do you measure Twitter success?

Shaer: It's not all about numbers, but a healthy following with following back (no spam/auto-follow) shows a well-managed account. Creating community and conversation that is not heavily weighed on just pushing out content highlights success for me.

ITWeb: What's the key to gaining valuable followers on Twitter? How do you find and catch the right crowd? (Asked by @popcorncandi)

Shaer: Don't buy followers. It attracts spam and useless contacts. Numbers don't matter in comparison to relevant followers. Actively follow! I'm constantly following people of interest and relevance, but also always follow back those who engage. Lists solve the problem of following so you can truly engage and know who is in your online community. You have to know who is there.

ITWeb: What are lists, and how does one use them effectively? (Asked by @dianigernandt)

Shaer: Lists help you organise your followers. Click under the bio. Create any category you like.

ITWeb: What are the three things people should do less of on Twitter? (Asked by @DavidGrahamSA)

Shaer: Don't ask celebs/influencers for re-tweets. Don't vent and slate people. Don't use a trending topic to make a sale.

ITWeb: What are the three things people should do more of on Twitter? (Asked by @DavidGrahamSA)

Shaer: Say thanks and don't just re-tweet a tweet to you; respond to tweets. l will always suggest following more.

ITWeb: How much of the real you do you reveal online? (Asked by @Anatinus)

Shaer: There is only the real you, but decide why you are here. I've let it all hang out and have an amazing community. For me, that aim is to engage offline with as many people as possible, so needing to be real is the key.

ITWeb: You're a "hashtag specialist", what does this mean? Do you believe the hashtag is here to stay?

Shaer: They are! I have always focused on conversation through hashtags and used #FollowSA to master them for brands/campaigns. It's key to campaigns, communities and topical news. Just watch news or reality shows. It's filtered into our dialogue. Now the work is to use the # effectively and not just hold out for it to trend. It's key to strategy and visibility.

ITWeb: So how did you get #StarLightExpressSA to trend globally? (Asked by @DavidGrahamSA)

Shaer: Socially savvy guests, but mostly @joburgtheatre didn't miss a single opportunity to engage on the #StarlightExpressSA hashtag.

ITWeb: Is Twitter primarily a networking tool (to meet new business contacts) or a supportive tool to enhance offline networking? (Asked by @dave_glazier)

Shaer: Twitter is a space of endless possibility. Personally, I believe the one should lead into the other. Today, I had coffee with a friend who met his wife on Twitter. I met my assistant! It's for anything!

ITWeb: What makes you follow the people who you follow; what impact would you like to have on their timelines? (Asked by @mirandasemane)

Shaer: I mainly follow back, but follow people of similar interest and who engage well with my current followers. I want people to see the powerful tool Twitter can be and to guide them to use it to its full potential.

ITWeb: How do you use Twitter effectively for B2B marketing to senior executives? (Asked by @DavidGrahamSA)

Shaer: B2B executives should be challenged to rise up as industry leaders in knowledge and transparent content. Identify executives and other B2B companies engaging online and you will have the attention of many more.

ITWeb: How do you measure success with your Twitter campaigns? (Asked by @DavidGrahamSA)

Shaer: Every event has Fuseware stats (by Mike Wronski) and I compare so I can improve or continue with my formula. When my client's following and engagement speaks volumes through a powerful hashtag, I've succeeded. Personally, I believe a Twitter campaign is about strategy and engagement, which can then only succeed.

ITWeb: [Side note: The second day of the ITWeb Social Media Summit is an analytics workshop to learn measurement].

ITWeb: Do you think offline events and meet-ups have helped to grow your online brand? (Asked by @popcorncandi)

Shaer: Most certainly! Those meet-ups got people to meet me and see I'm the same online and off. That is golden. Many people from those meet-ups have gone on to be clients, invite me to events, to blog, or have become friends!

ITWeb: What is the number one thing South African businesses are doing wrong on Twitter?

Shaer: Focusing on content, then not responding and engaging. Some brands even ask a question and then ignore responses. Not answering a tweet as a brand is like no one in reception, no sales person on the floor, no call centre response!

ITWeb: How do you cut through the useless info? Loads of "ninjas, gurus", etc. (Asked by @DeloitteSA)

Shaer: This is where knowing your community is key. Create a list of sources you slowly start to find as genuine. I never share content unless I have seen a solid bio, gone through a timeline and seen who engages back. That helps.

ITWeb: That's it from us. Thanks so much for joining! And thanks for your time @Jodenecoza.

ITWeb's Social Media Summit will include a Platform Smackdown that puts various social media platforms head-to-head, demonstrating that there's no one-size-fits-all social media strategy.

In addition, it will feature a workshop on just how to set goals and objectives and measure social media successes. Find out more and book your place here. There's a 40% discount for SMEs and NGOs for ITWeb conferences. You can apply here.

Follow the #ITWebSocial hashtag on Twitter for the latest news.