5. Talk About the Weather. What's the one thing people talk about when they have nothing else to say? The weather! Everyone is interested in the forecast, the temperature, and whether it's sunny, raining, or snowing outside. The weather is the lowest common denominator of conversation. It's an opportunity for brands to talk about something that has universal appeal.
6. Be Responsive. Given the fact that more than 70 percent of users expect brands to get back to them on Twitter in less than an hour (according to a Lithium Technologies report), it only makes sense that the quicker you respond to those who tag you, the better. Monitor the channel for mentions and questions. Unless they're trolls, spammers, or ridiculously rude people, everyone deserves a timely response.
7. Have a Sense of Humor. Far too many brands take themselves too seriously on Twitter. For them, every single tweet is watered down, devoid of any personality whatsoever, never mind a sense of humor. Yet one of the best ways to stand out on this channel is to lighten up every once in a while. Laugh at yourself. Poke fun at others - in a harmless, good-natured way. Don't hesitate to put a smile on the face of your brand.
Example: Taco Bell
8. Give Something Away. Perhaps the easiest way to stand out among the competition for attention on Twitter is to host a contest or sweepstakes. You don't have to feature a big prize, either. Anything you have to offer is sure to draw interest. Make sure you abide by Twitter's guidelines, though. There are probably more details involved than you realize. But if you play by the rules and your prize is desirable, you'll likely be deluged with replies and entries.
Example: AMC Theatres
9. Be Inspirational. Whether you're marketing to businesses or consumers, don't forget that you're talking to other humans on Twitter. Sure, your ultimate objective may be to increase lead and sales, but that doesn't happen overnight on Twitter. It happens over time. Start by helping your followers achieve both their personal and professional dreams. A little emotion goes a long way toward moving people to action and helping them separate the good tweets from those not worth their time.
10. Share Your Knowledge. Speaking of being helpful, some of the most popular accounts on Twitter are those that provide insight and information to their followers. Like the most successful thought leaders, they share tips, tricks, facts, and figures about the space in which their brands and followers live, work, and play.
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Bob Cargill, who was named "Direct Marketer of the Year" for 2009 by the New England Direct Marketing Association (NEDMA), is director of social media at Overdrive Interactive. During the course of his career, his work has been recognized with more than 40 awards from NEDMA, including Gold for his blog, Gold for Best Tweets, and Silver for Best Copywriting. Bob likes to keep his fingers on the pulse of the industry in which he earns his livelihood. Not only has he presented many times about social media, copywriting, and direct marketing, he has been published or quoted on his areas of expertise in numerous media outlets. He is a past president of NEDMA and a graduate of Leadership MetroWest's Leadership Academy.
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