Not the Clinton and Stacy kind of makeover. Though a little Photoshop to that avatar wouldn’t hurt. I’m talking about the writing, content, and networking savvy required to truly cultivate value behind a Twitter page.
I had to relearn these essentials after participating in a week-to-week experiment with our own company Twitter page, in which the reigns are handed off to a pair of employees (among three global offices) to host and tweet content however they so choose – with the intention of improving the overall quality of our Twitter presence. Aside from the basic challenges of differing time zones, diverse voices, varying levels of Twitter experience, and tested resiliency against the fully-endorsed judgment of unforgiving peers, there’s also the daunting reality of potentially “going Chrysler” under the company name.
However, there are good intentions to outweigh the risks: healthy competition among the assigned tweeters; diverse quality in content that aligns with our company’s fascination and study of digital culture and personal passions; and growth in everyone’s comfort level with social media. If your smaller-sized company hasn’t tried this process before, it’s definitely worth a shot to see the kind of results you get.
So my assigned week came, and along with my tweet-partner (or maybe a carefully spoken “twartner”) and creative cohort, Sarah, we prepared our Twitter makeover plan as follows:
- Design the personality you aspire to be, because that’s what you’ll grow into. Our company’s page had looked the same for the past two years. Part brand conservatism, part negligence. There was no movement, and therefore minimal energy behind rousing up a personality for our company. We wanted to shock followers (and ourselves) into taking notice. The background was changed into a bright yellow, facet-designed wallpaper, and we took a risk by replacing the avatar to feature a laser-eyed kitten. A little whimsy would help set the tone for the new type of personality that was about to take over.
- Tweet smarter, not harder. We hardly had the extra hours to devote to Twitter care and maintenance. Naturally, our assignment fell on one of our busiest, deadline-ridden weeks to date. After a bout of cursing, we turned to Buffer, a scheduler app with a handy free trial. From there, we set four publishing times throughout the day, and started stocking our tweet-reserves with interesting, relevant, bookmarked content whenever we had a spare moment. While it looked like we were up at 8 a.m. tweeting, we were actually still grunting into our coffee, mumbling incoherencies.
- Experiment with new venues for interaction and creative expression. Before tweeting commenced, it was a flurry of beta sign-ups, all well-worth the excessive mess of email confirmations. We wanted to avoid the humdrum of link- and text-heavy tweets, and offer some original content that could be produced in a hurry. We were inspired by Refinery29’s Webstagram stream of summer fashion Instagram photos – such easy access to great, low-fi content. We’ve used Pinterest for an unusual visual recap of our SXSW observations, and decided this time around to capitalize on the 15-second nature of Viddy, recording an office series, “15-Second Dance Party,” showcasing some of our pretty sweet dance moves. Other tempting experiments included DJ wars on Turntable.fm and a fun game of digital geocaching on Repudo.
- Less characters, more quality. Every tweet is a skilled writing challenge in 140-character efficiency – without stripping the content of interest or readability. We made sure to give each tweet an editor’s scrutiny of, “Hey, this tweet can be better without adding more characters.”
Original (127 characters):
“The Dark Knight Rises” ARG kicks off by hiding a Twitter hashtag within a sound file’s waveform. Way cool. http://bit.ly/iiSoyT
Revised (113 characters):
#DarkKnightRises ARG hides hashtag in a sound file’s waveform. Creepy chants, creepier photo. http://bit.ly/iiSoyT
Hashtagging the movie reference helped to not only save characters, but also to insert the tweet into an existing conversation channel (and hopefully pick up a few followers). Deleting a few non-crucial words helped make room for a more descriptive promise of a “creepy” photo deliverable. More efficiency tips are available in this super-useful article.
- Attribute the heck out of people to start new conversations. We all like a little recognition now and then, especially when we’re being credited for our original work. With every interesting link we posted, we made sure to research the origins of the content and track down the official (or authentic) Twitter handle for the publisher or individual. Each tweet went out with a “cc” that linked to those relevant Twitter handles. We also shamelessly jumped on any opportunity to @reply or “cc” a celebrity or influential Twitter name. It helped us engage in unlikely conversations with other brands and inspirational people we’ve personally looked up to, as well as gain a lot of passive bystanders along the way.
All in all, our makeover brought us new industry followers and a three-point uptick in our Klout score – mostly due to our sudden spurt in conversations with influencers. We were satisfied given the week-long timeline, but were certainly motivated to double our results next time around. Our new Matt Damon-channeled mantra: the laser kitten plays.
Whether it’s your company’s, your client’s, or your personal Twitter page, there’s no denying the tremendous effort required to craft the right tone, content, and conversations while maintaining fastidious quality control and follower growth. To stay sane, focus on your weekly goal; for us, it was about increasing our daily conversations. To stay fresh, implement your own makeover plan. Just think, you’re the girl who only has to take her glasses off to look hot. (“She’s All That,” Rachael Leigh Cook? Anyone?) Simple tweaks in how you edit your tweets, distribute your content, and socialize with others will help you reach full Twitter potential.