You’ve finally got your website updated and started blogging, and now everyone’s saying you need to be on Twitter! Monitoring your new followers, looking for people to follow, reading and responding to their tweets, and posting your own could easily take several hours per week! How on earth are you supposed to fit that into your already busy schedule?
Twitter is great for building relationships that lead to business opportunities, but because it can be quite addictive, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose track of time. Here are a few strategies to help you use your time effectively.
1. Take advantage of time-saving technology
Working within the Twitter website can be overwhelming, especially if you’re following a large number of people. I like to use TweetDeck because it lets me display tweets from key people in separate columns so they won’t get overlooked. I can also see quickly and easily when someone starts following me, sends me a Direct Message, or mentions me in a tweet. One function I especially like that I haven’t seen in other Twitter tools is the ability to mark tweets as read and clear them off your screen, making it easier to keep track of those you still want to read.
In addition, you can reply to a tweet or retweet it simply by clicking a button, and it has a built-in URL-shortener which makes it easier to stay within the 140-character limit. New features are being added all the time, so if you’ve tried TweetDeck before but didn’t like it, it may be worth checking it out again.
Many professionals who are away from their computers during prime business hours like to take advantage of HootSuite or SocialOomph, which allow you to preschedule your tweets and have them go out at set times during the day. As a virtual assistant who is at my computer most of the time, I haven’t tried either of these services, but they both come highly recommended.
There are several WordPress plug-ins, including WP to Twitter, that will automatically send out a tweet each time that you update your blog. If you’re thinking that it only takes a few seconds to tweet your blog post, consider the fact that this will allow you to post to Twitter without actually logging into your account, so you won’t risk getting distracted by what others are saying at that time. This can be quite valuable if you pre-schedule your blog posts, as you don’t have to remember to tweet them when they are published, and especially if you’re not at your computer when your posts go live.
2. Connect with people who can help you grow your business
It’s great to network with your colleagues in the organizing industry – you can probably learn a lot from each other – but this should probably not be your main focus. If your goal is to find new clients, you need to connect directly with people in your target market, or with people who can introduce you to potential clients.
Since I started actively using Twitter, I’ve been offered speaking engagements, books to review, link exchanges, answers to technical problems, and so much more. It is also an excellent way to network with businesses offering products or services which complement your own. Whether it’s a local shredding or junk removal service or an organizing product with an affiliate program, the possibilities are endless.
3. Don’t feel you have to follow everyone who follows you
I know that not everyone will agree with this advice. Many believe that if someone follows you, it’s rude not to follow them back.
In my experience, there are too many users using a shotgun approach to networking. They’ll follow anyone and everyone, hoping that even a fraction of those people will click through to their website and buy something. They’re not interested in building relationships; to them, it’s all about the numbers.
If you don’t understand why someone has chosen to follow you but you’re afraid of closing the door on a potentially valuable relationship, by all means, follow them back. It’s easy enough to “unfollow” them later if it turns out that you are not interested in their tweets.
4. Create a schedule and stick to it
One of the best things about Twitter is the fact that you can participate at any time of the day or night, unlike live networking events which may take place during your scheduled client hours.
If you’re going to be out of your office all day, plan to spend 5 to 15 minutes online before you leave, and again after you return. On office days, you will probably want to schedule longer and/or more frequent sessions. Set a timer if you need to, to ensure that you don’t spend more time on Twitter than you should. Keep in mind that many tweets include links to blog posts or other web pages, so you’ll need time to read some of those, but knowing that you have limited time should help you focus on your most important activities.
5. Hire a virtual assistant to help you stay on top of things
Although you can’t really outsource relationship building, there are many ways a VA can reduce the time you spend on Twitter, including:
- customizing your profile
- locating people for you to follow
- providing information and guidance around the use of Twitter and various Twitter tools
- extracting tips from your articles and/or blog posts and setting them up as tweets to be posted in the future, either manually or using one of the automation tools mentioned above.
If you’ve been avoiding Twitter because you think it will be too time-consuming, you may be missing out! When Twitter is used strategically and effectively, you just might be surprised to see what can happen.