Twitter Tips for B2B Editors

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
President, Washington, DC Chapter

When I first heard Paul Conley sing the praises of Twitter during his keynote address at last year’s ASBPE National Editorial Conference, I admit I was skeptical. I’m all for new media, but I just couldn’t see my readers — professional contractors — participating. But I stand corrected. In the six months since I begrudgingly made my first Twitter post, the social media application has not only connected me with readers, it’s produced story ideas, introduced me to new contacts, and helped me follow the topics I care about a little more closely.

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Not familiar with Twitter? In short, Twitter is a microblogging tool in which you post 140-character “Tweets.” You “follow” people whose Tweets you wish to see in a real-time news stream and people follow you to see what you’re posting.

For social users, Twitter is a journal of sorts, answering the question “What are you doing?” But in the business realm, it’s evolved to be much more than that. Twitterers post links to their online articles and blog posts, post links to related articles from other sources, market their services, and interact by replying to other Twitterers’ posts. At the same time, by following people in your industry, you receive a constant news feed of links and information related to the industry you cover.

For more basics on what Twitter is and how to use it, check out these two posts from ASBPE member Erin Erickson: How Twitter Can Make You Employable and How to Craft the Perfect Tweet.

There are plenty of other Twitter tips out there. But here are a few more ideas specific to B2B editors:

  • Craft your user name with care. If you’re planning to use your Twitter account for work (in addition to your magazine’s Twitter account) use your real name instead of a cryptic nickname. This will make you more identifiable (My Twitter name is @ktom17. If I had a do-over, I’d make it @KatyTomasulo or something along those lines.)
  • Don’t leave your profile blank. Clearly list who you are and the magazines you work on. People won’t follow you if they don’t know who you are and what you are generally tweeting about.
  • Use clear headlines. Just as with headlines for your Web articles, don’t be vague or cute. People don’t have time to be curious what your link is about; they want to know if it’s worth clicking on. And avoid things like “Here’s a cool resource” or “Check this out” and the like. Along those lines, if you break a story with a Tweet and then post the full article a little while later, don’t be vague when referring to the earlier post, such as “Here’s the article about the news I mentioned earlier.” Restate what the news is. People following hundreds of others will not necessarily remember (or even have seen) your initial post and therefore will not know what your article link is about.
  • Post personal items with care. It’s OK to post a personal update from time to time (in fact, I think it’s nice when personalities pop up), but occasional is best. And remember: What you say reflects on your company. If it’s not safe to say in a business meeting, don’t say it on Twitter. (For example, “I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend” is interesting. Whereas, “I think [that politician] is a total loser” could offend a reader.)
  • Remember that everyone and anyone can see what you post. Before clicking “Update” think one last time about what you are telling the world. Can it be misconstrued as offensive? Does it contain sensitive or embargoed information about your company or another company? Are you being a good representative of your publication and company?
  • Interact by replying to interesting Tweets and asking questions… This is a great way to network and to demonstrate your expertise.
  • …But refrain from having drawn-out personal conversations. No one wants to read two friends discussing what they did last night. It creates clutter. If your replies to a friend drag on and are largely personal, take it offline to a Twitter direct message, email, or IM.
  • You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you. Some folks will say you should. But I am of the mind-set that you should follow those whose Tweets will benefit you and your business. Once your Follow list grows to be in the hundreds, it becomes more and more difficult to break through the clutter.
  • Be sure to publicize your Twitter user name. If your magazine has a Twitter account and/or the editors have Twitter accounts, put links to those on your Web site and in your e-newsletter. If your readers are unfamiliar with Twitter, write an article explaining what it is and how they can use it to interact with their customers.
  • Use the Twitter news feed to keep up to date on your industry and to find potential stories. News items posted by others are yet another way to get additional background information and find out about trends and resources on your industry. And when readers post about the projects they’re working on or the concerns they have, you have an opportunity to reach out and follow up.

There are plenty more recommendations out there. One helpful resource is Twitter Tips on Twitter.

Please add your own tips in the comments.

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