I've been a Twitter user for just over 2 years now and I'm still trying to figure out how to use it well. A couple of weeks ago, We created an @commoncraft account that's focused on our business and looks behind-the-scenes. Now that I have an established account (@leelefever) and one that's just getting started, I've been thinking a lot about what's possible with Twitter. Some thoughts:
(If you're new to Twitter, watch our video Twitter in Plain English )
To Follow or Not to Follow
I take a decidedly lightweight approach to social media. If I haven't met you or don't know you personally, I'm not likely to add you as a friend or follow you. I currently follow about 200 people on Twitter and it's still too much. When I follow someone with the @leelefever account, I try keep up with most of their updates. This is how I've always used Twitter.
Now that I have a new, business-oriented account, I'm thinking about it a bit differently. With the @commoncraft account we're following most, if not all, the folks who follow that account. This way, we can receive direct messages from these folks (Twitter members can only send direct messages to members that follow them.) Also, it creates a stream of Twitter updates that represent people interested in Common Craft. I realize I can't really follow everyone, but having the stream gives me a source that I can manage later. And, I think it's a nice gesture.
Reducing Twitter Administration
As you know, I'm all about reducing heavyweight administration. The @leelefever account gets about 10 new followers a day and it's rare to see someone I know personally. I've started filtering the emails to help me manage my inbox. The side effect of this is that I don't see every email and may miss people I want to follow.
Again, I'm trying something new with the @commoncraft account. For now, I'm trying out a service called Tweetlater that automatically follows people that follow @commoncraft and sends them a quick "thank you" message. It's not as personal as I'd like, and some spammers are using it for nefarious purposes, but it allows me to accomplish the goal of following people without having to take an action for every one. It's lightweight.
I've done little experimenting with the @leelefever account in terms of tools. I think there is part of me that wants it to be pure - like the Twitter I used 2 years ago. I've linked it up to my Facebook account and on my Tumblr, but I haven't tried any Twittering services.
With the @commoncraft account, I'm all about experimentation. Just recently I started using TwitPic to publish photos like this to the @commoncraft stream. I want to bring people into our daily work lives and TwitPic makes it easy to snap a picture with my phone and post it in seconds. I've also hooked the Common Craft blog into the Twitter stream using Twitterfeed.
Having Two Accounts - Which Tool?
How do you manage two accounts? Right now I use Tweetdeck for personal and the Twitter web site for Common Craft. I know Twhirl allows more than one login.
TweetDeck and Twitter Groups
I'm using TweetDeck for all my Twitter needs. I have a column for the people a follow, a column for replies and a few searches (more on searches later). A feature I haven't used in TweetDeck is the ability to create groups. With groups, I can take everyone I follow and filter the stream by into "family", "must read" or "news" for instance. Because I'm only following 200 people, this isn't as useful for the @leelefever account. One day I may start to slice and dice the people I follow via the @commoncraft account into groups.
Twitter Search is an amazingly powerful tool. We both use a search query that gives us an constant stream of activity on Twitter related to what we do. It's designed to capture the key words and phrases, across both accounts. It looks like this:
commoncraft OR "common craft" OR leelefever OR lefever OR "plain english" (Link)
Having two accounts presents some issues in terms of content. For instance, a lot of people follow the @leelefever account because they are interested in Common Craft. Now that they have an oppotunity to follow @commoncraft, I have to consider redundancy. Do I post links to blog posts on both accounts? It's going to take a little while to negotiate what goes where. What do you think?
I'm curious what you think about these points. Is your use of Twitter similar to one of these models? What else should I be considering?
Perhaps you'd like to follow us? We're @commoncraft, @sachilefever and @leelefever. Also, here's a post I wrote after one year: Twittering for 1 year: a Retrospective.