twitter-10-minutes

A source for breaking news, a river of conversation, and a place to build your authority. Twitter is all of these things and more, but for anyone looking to develop trust on the network, it can seem like a daunting task.

Anyone who has a presence on social media at all knows that attention and resources come in short supply. For a small business owner or a marketer, having time to spend on Twitter while also taking care of other marketing responsibilities can be a tall order. Yes, you know it's important to have a Twitter account and you know that there's value - but how can you give the account TLC with such limited time?

What many Twitter users have found helpful is to dedicate a specific allotment of time in their schedule just to that particular network. Blocking off regular time throughout the day or in one segment of it can help make Twitter a habit - and a useful one, at that!

If you have more time to spend on Twitter, awesome! But if not, don't worry - here's a quick and dirty guide on how you can build a Twitter account that offers value in 10 minutes a day. These aren't hard and fast rules - but they are tips that can help you as you start to build your own strategy.

Let's dive in, shall we?

Minute 1-2: Find And Follow Someone Interesting

Twitter does a fairly decent job of making recommendations of who to follow or who you might be interested in following, however, don't be afraid to take the search beyond recommendations.

Start by using Twitter's search feature to look for users who share your fields of interest, your geographic location, or mission. Follow competitors, mentors, community leaders, or people you know in real life (yes, the online and offline worlds can be bridged!).

When you follow someone, you're creating more potential touch points with your own Twitter account, as the people you follow and their respective followers may be paying attention to who has followed them recently (phew - that's a lot of uses of the word "follow"!).

Alternately, you can make use of Twitter tools to find the right people you should be following. Connections can make all the difference in having your Twitter content be seen, shared, and noticed by fellow influencers in your community or in your industry - not to mention, potential customers.

Minute 2-3: Share Something That Isn't Yours

Twitter is all about having conversations and sharing content that's worthwhile. If you look at your feed, you'll likely see a high volume of shared articles, infographics, videos, photos, and other media. Simply put, we like sharing information. We like curating resources that can enhance our own practices, intrigue, or entertain. We also like showing our approval or interest by sharing what we've read, watched, or listened to.

By sharing something that isn't yours, you're showing that you are in tune with information that's outside what you create. It's a very human thing to do - almost like the digital equivalent of showing that you're listening in a conversation.

Share content you've read or appreciated in the past few days. Share a video you watched that brought you joy or taught you something new. Share a photo of something that inspired you. It doesn't matter what the content is - as long as it offered value to you and you can vouch for its quality.

Speaking of sharing, keep a swipe file if you're worried about finding the right content to share. You can also use tools to help you discover content that might be interesting to your followers.

Minute 3-4 Retweet A Connection

Connections and conversations are what powers Twitter, so supporting others in your niche or region can be as simple as giving that Twitter user a retweet.

If you see something that was said and it's worth sharing, give that person a retweet. More often than not, that person will see your retweet and may remember you over time if you share their stuff regularly. You might get a "thanks for sharing!" as a reply, acting as a conversation starter (many a great Twitter love stories, professional and otherwise, have started from a single reply!). You may also get a follow out of the deal if that person you retweeted sees that you have a worthwhile account.

Retweets can also be an opportunity to start conversations when you add your own comments. You can quote the person in the retweet but add your two cents, but only if you have something to add to the conversation - and you're willing to engage over it. A hundred tweets in your stream where you've just said "Great post! RT @SomeTwitterAccount: The Best Post in the Universe http://link.com/bloggity-blog" will get you nowhere.

Minute 5-6: Try A Search

Twitter's search feature is a great way to discover topics of interest, new people to follow, or thought leaders in a particular industry or niche.

Use Twitter's search to see what others are talking about and see how it might relate to what you're sharing on behalf of your business. Being in tune with what's being said is an important part of building and maintaining a trusted presence. Plus, you can observe a lot about an industry or a particular subject by spending some time researching and listening what others had to say about it beyond your own feed of people you follow.

You may just find your new favorite account to follow. Or perhaps a blog post you hadn't seen yet but it will change the way you approach your business. Or maybe you see nothing of substance and know that there's an opportunity for you to create something incredible. Listening is a forgotten art form - but you can do it, even on social media.

Minute 6-7: Schedule Something In The Future

While you may only have a few minutes each day to check or spend time on Twitter, that doesn't mean that you can't continue to post or share beyond that time.

Scheduling tools like Tweetdeck, HootSuite, Buffer, or other apps make it easy for you to schedule tweets into the future so that you can still get the content you want out there, but you don't have to be physically on the network at the time when it's posted. Additionally, they can support having a more "active" account.

However, there are some words of caution to consider:

  • Be careful of what you schedule out. If you're dealing with a business where things can change often, you don't want to be portrayed as tone deaf by posting something that isn't appropriate or in time. Lean towards scheduling out evergreen content if you know you won't have time to reschedule or edit.
  • Don't set it and forget it. This where most business Twitter accounts fall flat. They schedule posts but never take the time to check how they performed or even if they got replies to it. Or, they just schedule their content and call it a day. Don't just push content - Twitter only works when you engage with others as a real human being. I know, I know - we're asking a lot of you - but I can promise it's worth it!

Minute 7-8: Share Something Of Your Own

Twitter is a platform, which means that it has great potential to help your business. As Michael Hyatt writes in his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, a platform provides:

  • Visibility - i.e. the stage where everyone can see you and what your business has to contribute
  • Amplification - the opportunity to extend your reach is exponentially larger because of social media
  • Connection - traditional media is one-way conversation. Social media makes two-way connection possible.

Take advantage of these benefits by sharing the amazing blog post you just wrote, the photo of your latest merchandise, or the information you know your customers want to see. Put something out there that offers value.

As for how to create these types of tweets, that's an entirely different blog post! But, here are some resources you can reference to get started on Twitter content best practices:

Minute 8-9: Share Something That Isn't Yours - Again

I've always loved Chris Brogan's rule of 12:1 sharing. Granted, it's not always easy to do in practice, but the principle itself is powerful. Sharing more than you put out there encourages the flow of information throughout Twitter (just look at your feed and you'll see others are doing it too), but more importantly, sharing something that isn't yours can help with building trust.

We live in a world where there are millions of unread blog posts, emails, tweets, and status updates. We have websites that deserve more notice, more traffic, and more conversions. We have businesses that merit second looks and have earned mentions in the media.

But it's up to us, as a community, to give those people (and all of their incredible creations) the opportunity to succeed. We do that by sharing their work - and giving them credit for it.

Minute 10: Reply To Something

Connection only goes so far as the parties involved are willing to have it go. If you post to Twitter and don't expect to ever be retweeted, replied to, or direct messaged, don't use this social network as a platform. It's that simple. But if you do want to use Twitter to connect with other people, try replying to something to share your impressions or reactions.

Social media etiquette is very similar to what we would consider to be appropriate in normal conversation with other human beings (see where I'm going with the whole "be human" thing?). If you're involved in a conversation with someone and they say something that you find interesting, wouldn't you want to add to it or question it further to continue? The same principle applies to Twitter.

If you see something posted that you like, tell the writer why you liked it. If you see content that connects to your area of expertise, add your take or share a resource you found valuable in a similar situation. If someone is asking for feedback or thoughts, give them.

BONUS: Have An Extra 10 Minutes? Participate In A Twitter Chat!

I started on Twitter in college, using it as a tool to connect with professionals in my industry and learn more about digital marketing, PR, and other subjects that interested me. I was completely fascinated by it, as it offered a world of possibility. There was the potential that yes, my stuff could be seen and yes, I could interact with a real person I admired or appreciated the work of. It was incredible - but there was nothing more exciting to me than a Twitter chat.

When I was a student, I spent quite a bit of time participating in Twitter chats. For me, it worked as a way to network digitally with others while broadening my horizons. I connected with people in my region and industry who I still keep in touch with today (some of which I've met in person or have collaborated with on other projects). I got insight that I wasn't getting in the classroom and heard the thoughts of people I trusted and respected. I shared my opinions and received feedback while also showing what I knew or felt about a subject. It was awesome - and it helped me build my own credibility as a writer and marketer.

If you have some extra time in your schedule, spend time participating in a Twitter chat. Most chats last more than 30 minutes, but even if you only have a few, you can still hop in and get something out of it. Find a Twitter chat relevant to your interests or industry and participate. Here's how to get started.

What are some ways you build a trusted Twitter account in regular practice? Do you have any time saving tools you use to make your Twitter life easier? I'd love to hear about them!

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* Lead image adapted from pbalcer