My preference for Twitter is largely due to its popularity with a very active publishing community and ease of use.
Hard though it is to believe, there might still be some people that don’t ‘get’ Twitter. In fact some are downright hostile at the thought of using it. If you happen to be one of those people, please read on. Perhaps I could highlight a few things that have happened since adding @thebookseller to Twitter:
- Twitter drives the third largest group of traffic to both TheBookseller.com and FutureBook.net
- I managed to talk Ian Rankin into writing a blog for me by cheekily sending him a direct message. It took just seven hours from requesting an article to him sending it to me.
- Stephen Fry posted a Twitter link on his blog, which linked back to a story on The Bookseller site. This article was viewed more than 30,000 times in 24 hours.
- I have found 75% of my bloggers for FutureBook.net through Twitter.
- I have been asked to speak at quite a few publishing events, thanks to Twitter connections.
- All of our conferences have sold out since we joined Twitter.
- Our Twitter lists and surveys gather valuable information on many followers, which we use in our marketing.
- I have met, in person, an incredibly interesting and diverse group of Tweeters. (I’m sure I would not have discovered them in any other context).
And yes, we also have a lot of followers across @thebookseller, @thefuturebook, @fight4libraries, @welovethisbook and @samatlounge. But I do not want to sidetrack you with follower numbers. You can use Twitter extremely effectively with150 followers.
I hope the list above gives you a sense of the potential of Twitter. But the important question is how do you realise its potential? How do you identify those you would like to connect with? And how do you get them to take you seriously?
So, how do you build credibility?
In simple terms you need to be credible.
Perhaps, you are trying to launch into the digital publishing market, position yourself as an expert or looking to move into a digital role.
What follows are tactics and tips. I’ll leave social media strategy to others.
1. Social etiquette
The most obvious point in being credible is that the same rules and etiquette apply in the virtual world as in the real world. People need to trust you, you need to be authentic. It is amazing how many people are still getting this wrong on Twitter with endless self-promotion, no engagement with others, or just by being downright rude. Consider what behaviour works in the real world in a professional context and take that into the virtual world. Do not be the networking party bore that everyone tries to avoid.
There is a great Forbes piece on ‘5 Social Media personalities to avoid’. Those being ‘The Self-Promoter’, ‘The Anger Management Drop Out ‘, ‘The Over-Sharer’, ‘The Island’ and ‘The Stage Five Clinger’.
I can safely say that I encounter all 5 personalities on a regular basis on Twitter. And neither do I want to have a drink with them or listen to what they have to say professionally.
My colleague on The Bookseller, Ben Johncock, wrote a very good piece putting Twitter success down to ‘human-to-human’ interaction.
2. Understand the language
Twitter has its own language: @, #, DMs, RTs, lists, via, etc. This is not difficult to master, but it is very important for your credibility to get the basics right. It can be a good idea to simply follow people on Twitter for a while, learn the language, understand the etiquette and then engage.
This is a useful guide to the language of Twitter.
3. Establish a credible voice
Your Twitter updates should reflect you and your interests. If you are trying to establish yourself as a digital publishing expert you’ll need to tweet about news and issues. More importantly you need to let your followers know your opinions, knowledge and expertise. You should also aim to curate your Twitter feed to reflect wider interests (professional and/or personal). Give your followers reasons to listen to you.
There are some very useful articles available on Mashable, including ‘How to build your personal brand on Twitter’ – well worth working your way through.
4. Identify who you need to influence
The digital publishing crowd on Twitter fall into these groups:
- Digital decision-makers
- Digital movers & shakers
- Influencers: bloggers, journalists, commentators, event organisers
They all play an important part in the global publishing discussion. And they are all potentially useful connections for you. At the bottom of this post I have listed the Top 50 as recommended by other Tweeters – follow them all to be kept up-to-date on global digital publishing. And, of course, they are the people to build your credibility with.
This is a good article by Chris Brogan on building influence.
5. Get stuck in
Let’s work through a few tactics and tips that might be useful for engaging with these Tweeters.
- Understand what makes them tick
Twitter gives you a great opportunity for understanding people’s views, motivations with a few personal titbits thrown in. See what they have to say, check out who they follow, tweet with and RT. Chances are you’ll find some common ground.
- Retweet their updates occasionally
This is a simple technique that says, ‘I find what you’re saying interesting and want to share’. And they may feel like returning the favour.
- Respond to their tweets
When you have something interesting to contribute. And if you engage with them properly they may start following you. You then have the power of the Direct Message (DM) at your disposal. Use it wisely. The DM will give you a 1-to-1 private fast track to that person. Extremely useful.
- Follow industry event hashtags
There are many digital publishing events happening around the world. Follow the event hashtag, RT interesting Tweets, respond to people Tweeting. This is a very simple technique for finding and connecting with the global community.
- Build your own credibility
This can be done online and in person. Write a blog post about a project you are working on or a strong view you have on a topical issue. Approach ‘Tools of Change’ (TOC), Frankfurt, London Book Fair, FutureBook and the leading industry blogs and pitch your idea. You’ll probably be surprised how receptive they are. (They all rely on strong editorial content)
- Get your name out there
See if you can get some speaking gigs. There are lots of publishing events happening all of the time. Find out who organises them and again pitch an idea to them.
- Venture into the real world
Attend industry events, book fairs and tweetups; this is your chance to connect in the real world. This will ALWAYS be more valuable than in the virtual world. And by the time you meet in the flesh, hopefully you’ll be credible in their eyes.
To get you started here’s my list of the Top 50 most influential digital publishing people on Twitter (lists don’t work on the iPad or iPhone app, so access Twitter through your computer).
I will be talking about this and other practical things I’ve learned from embracing social media at TOC Social Media Workshop on Thursday 13th October.
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