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If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

- George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw Quote

Yesterday, we discussed how we could come up with a strategy to better use Twitter. Today, I wanted to discuss how to best network with Twitter. We will look at three different ways to improve our Twitter network.

80% Give – 20% Take For those that have a cause or organization that they are using Twitter, there is a need to make your tweets valuable. We suggest to achieve this, that 80% of your tweets be you giving something to your followers and taking something from them only 20% of the time. When we say giving, we are talking about fresh ideas, links to the latest news you care about, or free stuff. Make sure that it benefits your followers. As for the taking, this can involve an advertisement to buy a book you wrote, vote for something on a contest, or leave comments on your blog.

Grow Your Network Increasing followers goes both ways. You need to follow others just as much as you need them to follow you. Monday, we shared one way we try to improve our network this way. Follow 1 new user a day for at least a week. In the “Who To Follow” section of the Twitter homepage, we research some of the suggestions and pick one every day to follow that we think we might retweet their work or have very similar interests.

Appreciate Your Followers Just growing your network will not achieve success, you need to sustain the ones you currently have. When you do get new followers, remember to contact them immediately. Direct message them a thanks for following (we shared what we say to new users) as well as publicly announcing a thank you (include #follow). At the same time, make sure you are consistent with retweets of quotes or links that are along your own interest or mission. And finally, I suggest taking advantage of #FridayFollow, when everyone lists people who they appreciate on Twitter from that last week. Maybe it was a great tweet or old friend, but share with your followers who you appreciate following.

Yesterday, we posted our Twitter strategy and coincidentally, Collide Magazine posted a similar article. I wanted to offer four questions to answer before you go forward with developing your own strategy so as to streamline the process. Giving well thought out answers can make the process painless and achievable. Tomorrow, we will look at how we plan to handle networking.

Who do you post tweets for? This can be as simple as “for myself” or as complex as what we said: “Everyone who wants to impact the Church as well as those who love technology and social media …” Remember, the broader you get, the more you will have to keep track of, write for, and network with. In a business model, hopefully this is already written done somewhere. If not, look at your mission or vision statement and hopefully it will become clear. For those that are just posting for fun or as freelance workers, what topics do you find yourself wanting to post?

What is the endgame of your tweets? Do you want your followers to go somewhere to buy something? Are you intended to have them see your blog? Or maybe you simply want us as followers to see how brilliant you are, awesome! For churches, it might be reminders of events. For us, we have stated that “the first line of interest is our ‘product’ including our blogging and projects we are working on.” Whatever it is you are wanting to do, remember that this is your top priority. Retweets and #FridayFollows are great, but these are not the top priority in the vision of this Twitter account. Always keep perspective of that.

When is it best to tweet consistently? For some, once a day is all that they care to post. Others have an automated WordPress plugin like Twitter Tools or scheduling web app like HootSuite to plan things out for you. One advice for multiple daily tweets, space them out through the day. It is good marketing to not only let followers know you exist but remind them throughout the day. For us, we have scheduled tweets from 8AM EST to 5PM PST as well as semi-hourly networking tweets.

Is there value to what you have to say? It is one thing for us to have a strategy of using Twitter and whole other problem of not having anything valuable today. The last thing I care about is that the Chinese food you had for lunch was too much for you. In fact, I might stop following you solely for that reason. We are not asking you to reinvent the wheel, a Scripture verse that caught your eye or a retweet about the latest Google or Apple press release is perfect, but will your audience like it too? At the same, some of it should be coming from you. It does not have to mind-blowing, but should represent you or your organization.

How do you approach Twitter for your church, organization, or self? Are you winging it? Hopefully not. Do you have a Twitter strategy? You should! Tomorrow we will discuss a good way of putting together a Twitter strategy, but we want to share with you our strategy.

Here is our Twitter strategy:

  • We want to network with those who are like-minded. Everyone who wants to impact the Church as well as those who love technology and social media are our targets and we want to be clear to those following us what we are about.
  • Follow 1 new user a day for at least a week. This does not mean you are married to the person nor are we following them so that they will follow us. Instead, we are forcing ourselves to network. We research them. Do they post at least daily? Do they tweet something that I would retweet? Would following them start up a new conversation?
  • When someone follows us, we direct message them immediately. We actually have a scripted message that we send them, “Thanks for following. I cover youth ministry, soul care, and technology. You can see more @ my blog: http://www.78p.tv” But we send it to let them know who we are, what we do, and that we are active.
  • We publicly thank them for following us. This is a “thank you gift” to them to show our followers a new user as well as smart marketing to express to their followers that they followed us and maybe they should too.
  • Be smart what and when I tweet. A few weeks ago, we posted about four great Twitter web applications, one of them being Tweriod that is perfect for this point. It can tell you when to tweet, what topics were most retweeted, and who is listening to you. Use this tool!
  • Twitter is important but not our first focus. The first line of interest is our “product” including our blogging and projects we are working on. Everything comes second to these, including marketing.