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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it tweet!

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love Twitter. In fact, I love it so much that I tell everyone I meet how good it is...even those who only use Facebook! Twitter is my breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper and (more often than I care to admit) my cocoa too.

Back in November of last year, the suggestion of 'TwitterSchool' came up in a WarwickTweetup meeting and I was unsure and pretty much against it.

Why?

I guess I didn't have much confidence in my ability and also I didn't want to fail on a road that so far I had succeeded. It's easy to stick at what you're doing well and not venture onto something unknown with an element of risk to it. It's often one of my failings, but I'm starting to learn to ignore the natural reaction or sixth sense that deters me from wandering into unchartered territory. Karen and Christie were great, and they knew we would be able to provide a great service. After putting them off for Christmas I soon found myself in front of a group of eager students armed with only my knowledge and my iPad.

 

Scared?

No, I loved every minute of it! It was such a great experience teaching what I so passionately talk about to anyone that listens. So much so that we held another one, and have a third planned this month including other teachings that have come about since the Portas Pilot campaign.

But here's the thing. Twitter is a simple beast, based on the simple text message. The SMS (Short Message Service) was the basis of Twitter and it still is today, and some seem to forget that. So often I come across people and companies who think its necessary to pay someone who can re-write code or understand the theory of relativity. Not so. Anyone can tweet...but does everyone want to?

Since the Portas Pilot phenomenon that has taken Warwick by storm, many
people and businesses have joined Twitter.They realised that they need to tap into this digital grapevine and get the news now not later. The problem is you can lead them there, but you can't make them stick at it. Sure if you have 2000 followers like me your tweeting has a great audience, and given the right time and content your tweets have great feedback and effect. As a fledgling tweeter though, people expect  all the pizzaz and glory from the word go, and after a few months many turn their backs on the oasis of Twitter and wander back to the desert, simply putting Twitter to bed as a waste of time.

I always say Twitter is like a hill, a 3 month hill; climb climb and climb. It's all uphill as you grow your following and your network but once you get a good foundation, things start to happen. You reach the top of the hill and it plateaus. Once you get there it very rarely climbs again. It's just that the hill is often too steep for some.

Lets face it, if Twitter was that simple it wouldn't be such a great
tool. Where else can you put in very little effort and get massive
reward?

At Twitter School for example, we teach the basics, some neat tricks and show some examples of great successes. So many hit the ground running when they join twitter that they miss the basic elements (I did). It's very much a case of fitting in quickly and learning the lingo but not much about learning how, why and when Twitter works. Even long term Twitter users have learnt from the simple and basic sections of our classes. Getting new tweeters to continue is the hardest part.

You really just have to 'get' Twitter. You can teach the ways and show the ropes, but like any skill you really have to just pick up that smartphone and start using it. You can't break it, you can't really do anything wrong, but opening a Twitter account and giving up is a sign that you give in too easily...and it's there online for all to see.

Don't sign up and expect not to have to sweep the floor and make the tea for a bit! Us veterans worked the floor for a while too, but it's a friendly place and everyone is there to help - as we are - always at the end of a tweet.

Here are my top 5 tips for successful tweeting:


1) Comtribute: Don't just RT other people's stuff, or stand back afraid to tweet. Only when you start putting in will you be able to take something out. Think of Twitter as a bath with the plug in and the overflow as your gain. Only when you fill the bath will you get the rewards overflowing your way.

2) Respond: You wouldn't put an email address on your company website and then ignore the emails. Twitter is the same. In many respects people would rather tweet than call a company. Make their life easy and show them you care. Don't open up the shop and hide out the back.

3) Make your mark: Twitter has 500,000,000 users and standing out is getting difficult. Show your skills, share your knowledge and try not to copy everyone else. All humans are unique in their own right, so there's no reason why your Twitter account can't be either. Play to your strengths, have a plan and theme to your Twitter and build on it.

4) Be yourself: This is so important. Be proud of you and your business or cause. Hold your head up high and show others why you are passionate about the things in your life. Positivity leads to positivity and people will feed off your positive timeline. Pretend to be something you're not, and eventually you will slip up and lose face
as well as the trust of your followers.

5) Be helpful: This gets me further than anything else on Twitter. Help people in anyway you can - if you can help them in your field of expertise even better. But changing a flat tyre for someone when you're not a mechanic can still get you a guest for your restaurant. Don't think that just because it has nothing to do with your business or organisation that it's wasted. You never know who you are tweeting
or who they in turn will tweet. Be there, in which ever way you can. possibilities on Twitter are endless

So come on, you made it this far don't turn back now. Twitter can be a cruel mistress, I should know. But don't give up. It's making some amazing things happen right now for a town, for its people and ultimately for me too. Twitter is not going away and it's a huge part of life. Isn't it best to understand it rather than fear it?

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