Category Archives: Tactics

Tactics and techniques for building, engaging and communicating with stakeholder groups and coalitions you need to solve your problems and achieve your goals.

How to: Mashable’s “Twitter for Beginners: 5 Steps for Better Tweeting”

Twitter for Beginners: 5 Steps for Better Tweeting:

Twitter is immensely useful as a utility for joining in the global conversation and sharing thoughts, opinions, information, and media. But for new users, there’s also a fairly steep learning curve. For many people new to Twitter, the site doesn’t immediately ‘make sense’ and it can be a bit daunting. But there are things those users can do to make the service more useful from the get go.

Below are five steps for new users to take in order to make the Twitter experience more enjoyable from the beginning. New users have both third party services and built-in tools at their disposal to make Twitter work for them, and this post highlights some of the best.


STEP ONE: Find People You Already Know


I joined Twitter later than most early adopters, but once I finally became a Twitter newbie in early 2008, it was much easier to jump into the conversation when I was following some people I already knew — people who I was sure were already talking about things I was interested in and would value my input.

The best tool available for new users directly on Twitter is the Find Friends on Other Networks tool, which lets people allow Twitter to scan their AOL, Yahoo!, or Gmail address books and see if anyone they know is on Twitter. Once you’ve synced your address book, Twitter will locate and suggest users to follow that you likely already know outside of Twitter. When you follow those friends, they’ll get an alert message saying that you’ve followed them.

findpeople

New users can also turn to third party Twitter people search engines like Tweepz, which take things up a notch by offering more detailed and easily scannable search results than Twitter’s own built in people search. Also check out our recent Twitter people search round up.

Another way to find friends is to check out the Twitter Facebook app and see if any of your friends on Facebook are also on Twitter. Of course, not every Facebook user that uses Twitter also has that application installed — the app has just 250,000 monthly active users, so the number of friends you find via this method might not be too many.


STEP TWO: Find Like-minded Users


One of the most clearly beneficial things for new users to do is to find other Twitterers that talk about the topics they’re interested in. Getting fed a stream of tweets on topics you actually care about will go a long way toward making Twitter more useful and interesting, right off the bat. One tool new Twitterers can use to find like-minded users is Twitter Search. Twitter’s own built-in search engine lets users search for others who are talking about the things they’re interested in by searching for keywords. However, it’s also a bit of a slapdash method of finding users to follow. Because the search is real-time, you’ll only ever find the users who were most recently talking about a specific subject, not necessarily those who talk about it regularly.

twellow

Fortunately, there are some third party services that new users can turn to in order to find other like-minded users to follow. Twitter directories Twellow and WeFollow organize Twitter users based on topic, and are great places to find other users who will regularly tweet about things you’re interested in.

You should also look into third party sites like Twubble and Twitterel, which attempt to give people friend suggestions on Twitter, based on the friends of your friends and the things you’re interested in.


STEP THREE: Find People in the Area


When I first started using Twitter, I used it for a couple of months, then got bored with it and stopped using it for a while. Recently, I have begun to follow a lot more people in my local area, and I’ve noticed that the service has become much more useful. I get updates about local meetups, stay abreast of local issues, and am able to connect with people around things that only those in my city would understand.

twellowhood

I would have loved to have known how to find local users to follow when I first began using Twitter — I may never have taken a hiatus from the service if I had. A good place to start your search for local tweeters is Twitter search. By using the advanced search options, you can limit results to only those tweets originating from nearby to a specific location.

Of course, third party apps, such as TwellowHood and Localtweeps, generally offer better results. Be sure to check out our recent guide to finding local Twitter users.


STEP FOUR: Get a Desktop (or Mobile) Client


Once you really get into Twitter and start using it to have conversations with friends and followers, you’ll want to upgrade from the Twitter.com web interface. Using the web for tweeting becomes difficult when you start following a lot of people and doing things like sending and receiving replies and direct messages. But don’t worry, there is a solution: a desktop client.

Desktop clients are software built specifically to utilize Twitter. Clients for the desktop generally do very helpful things, like let you put the people you’re following into groups, so you can be sure you won’t miss a tweet from those you care about the most, alert you when you get a new direct message or @reply, search Twitter without having to visit a separate page, or help you share images or videos. In other words, they help you get the most out of Twitter and not miss anything important.

tweetdeck

Our current favorite desktop client is Tweetdeck, with Seesmic running a close second. Be sure to check out our round-up of 19 Twitter desktop clients, for the skinny on a large number of available options.

Mobile users can also download applications to help them get more out of Twitter, those users who tweet on an iPhone especially have plenty of options. There are some web-based Twitter clients available that make Twitter easier to use, as well, such as Mixero and PeopleBrowsr.

*Disclosure: TweetDeck partnered with Mashable to create MashDeck, a branded version of the software.


STEP FIVE: Learn the Ropes


Twitter can be very daunting for new users. It has its own set of jargon (#hashtags, @replies, retweets, direct messages, etc.), its own set of commands, confusing rules about who sees your tweets, and a sea of third party clients to navigate. That can be overwhelming for someone new to get into. One place to start learning about Twitter, is the site’s own help portal and Getting Started forum aimed at new users. They’re not the most user friendly sites, though, and might raise more questions than they answer for some users.

At Mashable we just recently launched our Twitter Guide Book, which attempts to help both new and experienced users learn how to use the service and get the most out of it. You should also check out Twitter app directory Twitdom, where you can learn about many of the cool things you can do with Twitter.

twitter-guide


Reviews: Facebook, Gmail, Mashable, Mixero, Seesmic, TweetDeck, Twellow, Twitdom, Twitter, WeFollow

Tags: Lists, localtweeps, mixero, peoplebrowsr, seesmic, tweeps, tweetdeck, twellow, twitter, Twitter Search, twitterel, twubble, wefollow


(Via Mashable!.)

Quick tip: Three tips for writing great Web (and print) headlines

Internet writing is tough because how people use the Web is different from how they read print (here’s the classic breakdown, still a useful reminder after all these years).

Effective writing gets even harder when it comes to headlines, which play a critically important role in helping guide current and potential coalition members to the information they need and want to become and remain allies.

So here are three quick tips for writing effective Web headlines:

  1. Write short because people don’t read online, they scan;
  2. Summarize clearly the target article so people can quick evaluate the article’s value to them; and
  3. Maximize the use of important keywords to increase SEO, scannability and understandable out of context (because headlines often appear without articles, as in search engine results).

Sharing shows how you’re faring on the web

How frequently people share content they find on your website, blog or other electronic outreach may ultimately be the most important measure of well you’re building and maintaining your issue or action coalition.

If the people you reach out to are forwarding, Digging, Delicious-ing the content you are generating, then they’re voting with their actions that what you have to say is important because it:

  • Contributes to or furthers a conversation they think matters;
  • Advances their self or civic interest; and/or
  • Confirms their values, beliefs or ideas.

The key, then, is to make sure that the content you’re generating is “share worthy” by concentrating on its:  

  • Trustworthiness – Do you take every step possible to make sure that content is accurate, complete, low on spin and authentic to the style and culture of your organization?
  • Relevance – Do you know in great detail who your coalition partners are, what interests and motivates them, and do you provide them with what they need and want?
  • Immediacy – Is the meaning and value of your content instantly recognizable as valuable without requiring a complicated explanation.
  • Usefulness – More than ever before, content is king, especially well-written, timely and relevant news, how-tos and other material that adds value to everyday life, or at least makes it easier and more productive.  

Bottom line, any time you’re posting information, ask yourself: “Will my partners and audiences use this material and, if so, how will their task/day/life go better?”  If you and your content have an answer, then odds are what you have to say is “share worthy” and thus an Internet success.

Quick tip: Heads up on a new Twitter tool

From E-Media Tidbits:

“A new Twitter interface application, Twitterfall, has been around for a month now.  … this is a must-see — for about 10 minutes. Then it becomes a must-use.

Here’s what Twitterfall does:

  • Scanning. You can choose to watch everyone’s tweets go by, or log in to watch only the tweets of those you follow. Thanks to Comet technology, Twitterfall has an especially fast search service. You can alter the speed from 0.3 tweets per second to a mind-scrambling 10 tweets per second.
  • Keyword tracking. You can see the most popular terms of the moment, and just follow tweets containing those keywords (including hashtags). Or you can enter your own search term (as on the Web-based Twitter service Monitter) to track tweets mentioning it. You can combine keywords, too.
  • Geo-filtering. You can enter a location to narrow down your display to tweets from that location that also mention keywords you choose (again as with Monitter). The words Mumbai and Chengdu come to mind.
  • Basic usability. Unlike Monitter, you can use Twitterfall to post tweets yourself, reply to tweets and mark tweets as favorites. Just hovering over a tweet pauses the whole thing. You can also follow a user with one click — a feature some popular clients like Tweetdeck lack. You can filter by language and choose to exclude retweets. You can save favorite searches. And you can customize the appearance of the interface, including the font size.

This is quite simply the best-designed Twitter interface …”

Quick Tip – Test your coalition to build understanding

People love quizzes and surveys – at least when their GPA isn’t at risk.

And it appears that, besides the entertainment value, taking “tests” actually helps you better remember what you’ve learned, even if it wasn’t covered on the test.

It works even better than simply giving people more time to study, at least in terms of long-term recall of the materials, according to the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

The lesson here is that an effective – and entertaining – way of educating coalition members about information and messaging may be to occasionally let them test and cement their knowledge with a casual survey or quiz offered online, at meetings and in other forums.

25 things the President (maybe) and I hate about Facebook

Here you go – http://juliansmithproductions.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/25-things-i-hate-about-facebook/ – just because I’m dragging my heels about Facebook over privacy concerns (an ongoing problem that is a multi-faceted issue) and the continuous headache that is social media inundation.

And now there’s this:

The official White House site used to rely on YouTube for video hosting, but now they’ve apparently switched to a generic video player, delivered by Akamai’s content delivery network.

While there’s no official explanation of this move on the site, Cnet’s Chris Soghoian speculates that it might have something to do with YouTube’s privacy policy.

Except that:
…”[T]oday the New York Time reports that the White House did not give up on YouTube; they were merely “experimenting” with a new video player. As White House spokesman Nick Shapiro put it: “As the president continues his goal of making government more accessible and transparent, this week we tested a new way of presenting the president’s weekly address by using a player developed in-house. This decision is more about better understanding our internal capabilities than it is a position on third-party solutions or a policy. The weekly address was also published in third-party video hosting communities and we will likely continue to embed videos from these services on WhiteHouse.gov in the future.”

Chris Soghoian, who did a good job researching the subject the first time, still maintains his position: that the White House shunned YouTube because of privacy concerns.

Quick Tip: Making sure we speak the same language

If you feel that you and your coalition or network members are talking past one another, you might try mediating the conversation through Wordle.net. (Another take on this concept with richer features can be found at http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/.)

Wordle describes itself as a tool “for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes” to emphasize differences in frequency of use.

Wordle’s real beauty is that it gives you an easily understood quantitative visual analysis of whether you and your audiences are using the same language to talk about common issues and concerns.

It’s not just text responses that you can run through Wordle.  Some use it to analyze how people are tagging content (see http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/505252/WRI_Delicious_Tags:_4_Feb_2009) to see if the language they use is the same as that of their audiences. (This visual example of a Wordle chart may take some time to load.)

All in all, it’s a good, fast way to mid-course reality check whether you and those you’re trying to motivate are talking about the same things in the same way.