Thursday, October 20, 2011

Twitter Primer: Hashtags, Mentions & Missions. Oh My!

Twitter Primer for Rescue & non-profits #petrescue via @seprr & @tribedogs

^TREND^ ResQ Posts: Use  #petrescue #animalcontrol #pts #euthanize #occupy #animalcontrol #homelesspet #state #city via @seprr

Here is a Twitter Primer I am putting together.. referencing rugby and pet rescue as "neutral" topics to serve as practical examples. I do not train for free on commercial use of twitte! ;-) However, you could use this to figure out your own commercial social media strategies if you are on a tight budget.

Scratch Pad:
Use a text editor such as Wordpad, TextEdit, Vi, Word, Google Docs, etc.. to format your tweets. You will need a scratch pad to rehash your posts into the most effective Tweet. Sometimes you will revisit a reoccuring post and tweak it as you think of clever ways to improve the post, reducing characters in the post, mentioning @usernames and #hashtags in the posts.. tracking people who RT the post, etc.

I use Notepad on the local computer, then update a copy on Google Docs when I am sharing with a team such as @atlpetresq. Originally, many of these promotions were created for a great Atlanta local rescue group, @angelsrescue. It is a good idea to ReTweet related organization's posts, so consider Following @angelsrescue 

I can access Google Docs from any smartphone anywhere, so it is very convenient when away from the office.

Lesson1: Always post to Twitter so that it could go viral via easy sharing (RT) keeping most of the post intact as it is shared.

RT, a "ReTweet" implies that who ever posted the ReTweet (RT) is posting a Carbon Copy.. NO CHANGES.. to the original post. The challenge is that some people dont bother to post to twitter in a way that can be RT without any changes. Few people will sit down and change a Tweet so that it can be shared.

Here is an example:
Here is the Facebook post:  A Terrific Atlanta Pet Rescue
Sending a big thank you to the Wee Wonder Preschool who hosted us at their school today to receive the change they collected over past month for their "pennies for pets". Guess how much they raised?! Not $4, not $40, but $420!!!! Thank you Jen Leveillee and her daughter, and new foster Tiffany Lambert for helping to make this possible. Also, a big thanks to Otto, Drake II and Polly for making their guest appearances to discuss rescue. :)

"@ATLPETRESQ" is not an actual twitter account
(...wait a minute.. I will reserve that.. done. ;-) 
..I will figure what to do with it later.)

AutoPost to twitter from the FB Fan Page:
RT @ATLPETRESQ: Sending a big thank you to the Wee Wonder Preschool who hosted us at their school today to receive the change they...

This is a broken/garbled twitter post that can not be easily RT since it is gibberish in Twitter.
Wee Wonder doesnt have a twitter feed... the success story is cut off. If anyone wanted to share, they would have to reformat it, manually. Not good for sharing.

A possible Tweet: BIGTHX to Wee Wonder having@ATLPETRESQ visit today. WeeWonder raised $420 for #petrescue in #ga!

This Tweet is shareable, conveys the main points of the communication from the original post, and is easily shareable without losing any of the content, nor forcing another Follower to make significant changes in order to RT. I was unable to secure a Twitter handle for Wee Wonder. When organizing partnerships, it is always important to gather these items, such as the Fan Page name & URL, Twitter handle, & specific hashtags.

Also coordinate the timing of the posts with partners so that a greater impact can be achieved.

Lesson2: To Gain Visibility of your Posts, @Mentions are more important than the number of Followers

Mention: People following related users, (ex: @pabstblueribbon @cityofmarietta) may have setup a tracking feed for that user, and may have set it up to notify them when the @username is mentioned by anyone in Twitter. If nothing else, the related users sees that we are promoting them, sharing visibility. The best result is that many other users tracking those related users will see our post, and perhaps begin also following us. It is easy to see how this is useful for building relationships such as sponsors and donors.

Followers view your posts in the Twitter Home Feed, a deluge of real time posts that swarm over your screen. Your posts are easily crowded down the Feed by all the other posts from other @usernames a user is Following.

You will accrete Users over time. Do NOT pull any stunts to attract users. These activities usually blow up in your face, reducing credibility of your @username. This may also reduce your Twitter Klout score, a credibility metric in Hootsuite, a tool used by social media pros.

Generate visibility for your posts by always "Mention" the "@usernames" referenced by your posts.

For example: Dont say "Steam House Lounge" in your post. DO say @steamhouseloung.

DONT: Join Angels Pet Rescue at Steam House Lounge for a PBR for Pups Benefit

DO: This week! Join @ATLPETRESQ @steamhouseloung &  @pabstblueribbon PBR for Pups Benefit #atl #gapol

@ATLPETRESQ is the host of these events.
@steamhouseloung is the venue
@pabstblueribbon is a sponsor
#atl Atlanta
#gapol georgia politics Spay/Neuter and Animal Welfare is a political/special interest/lobbying topic

Lesson 3 Find Your Partners and MENTION them!  
Google search your Partner's @usernames referenced in your posts!
To Find a Twitter @username Account:
- Visit Google and Search for "Twitter " You may have to add a few other search terms to narrow the scope, but usually the @username pops up in the first few results. Cut and paste that @username into your posts.
Atlanta Renegades Rugby, a prominent Rugby Club in the Atlanta area,  is sponsored by several companies. Bushmills will serve as a good example.

Google "Twitter Bushmills" which results in three bushmills twitter accounts.
Perhaps the goal is to periodically Shout Out to Thank the sponsor for their support.
Schedule a post and format as follows:

@atlrugby Thanks @BushmillsUSA our Teams leading sponsor! @BushmillsSA @BushmillsGlobal @GaRugbyUnion
@atlrugby makes it easy for people to find our feed, no matter what
@BushmillsUSA is the team sponsor
@BushmillsSA is in South Africa, but SA has rugby right? Why not let them know we are up here playing?
@BushmillsGlobal hits Bushmills Corporate in Ireland.
@GaRugbyUnion has nearly 600 followers and hits many other teams in SC, GA, AL.

Could also add the USA Rugby feed.. browse the various ones here.

Lesson 4 Giving Back - Tending Your Garden

Remember to reinforce your network by giving back to your Followers. Your Followers, and even those who arent Following but saw your tweet via a Hashtag or a ReTweet, should be given positive reinforcement. In Twitter, this often takes the form of:

  1. - ReTweet where possible your Followers posts that are Relevant to your own account.
  2. - Following People Back who Follow your @account 
  3. - Follow those who RT and/or Mention your  @account
  4. - Mentioning those who share your post

An effective and manageable way to stay on top of reinforcing your network's relevance and bond with your Followers, involves Thanking them all at once. 

Wrong way:
Instead of Multiple Posts..
@PetAgProducts Thanks for the RT!
kinshipcircle9:19am via web
@katsndogs Thanks for the Mention!
kinshipcircle9:19am via web
@AnipalAwards Thanks for the Follow!
kinshipcircle9:19am via web
@TinyPearlCat Thanks for the RT Mentions & Follows!

This will drive you NUTS trying to keep up with the Thank You's!
And.. very soon you will just skip this process, and your accounts will wither.
You are no longer watering your garden! 

BETTER WAY: Thank by using "Block Posts"! 
 - Will not dilute your timeline
 - Allows your followers to netwotk with easch other. 
 - Easy to collect all the @usernames with rapid cut n paste keystrokes in any aggregator such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc.

How to form a Block Post to Thank people:
Include a releveant Hashtag such as: 
#ff is Follow Friday
#ww Woof Wednesday #petrescue related
#mm Mutt Monday -or- Meow Monday #petrescue related
...and any other relevant HashTag

By doing so, you are presenting these @usernames to those who follow a #Hashtag topic as being active in that topic area! Your @username friends will gain followers, mentions and RT.. and so will you.

Using the posts from above: 
RT @kinshipcircle #ff @PetAgProducts @katsndogs @AnipalAwards @TinyPearlCat TY4RT Follow &/or Mentions! <3! #thaiflood #petrescue

- Covers all the @usernames supporting your account
- includes Hashtags to amplify reach into relevant memes 
- Thanks for all possible ways of interacting with the account. 
- More efficient than dividing up which @usernames  Mentioned, Followed or RT. These activities usually overlap,so what is the point of separating them all?

Lesson 5: Grind an Axe! Want people to hear your complaints? Want to reach an organization directly? 

Recently, I stayed in Newberry SC for a funeral at the Hampton Inn. They have terrible Internet access, which presented several problems since I am an adjunct professor teaching ONLINE. I figured out their entire company's traffic for hotel guests is routed via a gateway in South Texas to and from the real Internet. Talk about sloooow. So..

@thehamptoninn @HamptonInn @HamptonFYI Fix your Internet Service in Newberry SC! 3days of Internet HELL at your hotel.

@HamptonFYI just saw your response. Here is the full

The Link above, brought Hampton In to an explanation of the problem. I  was contacted via email within 10 minutes of posting by Hampton Inn's Corp Mkt Director.. I received two nights free a couple of weeks later with no conditions for removing the post. 

Here is the diaogue. Bear in mind. EVERYONE on Twitter could see these posts. 

@HamptonFYI Thank you for sending 2 nights free. Did u ever resolve Internet issues for all other customers?
Hide conversation
BryanGrant@HamptonFYI Followed and DM your handle.. and ....nothing. Thanks!3:36pm, Aug 24 from HootSuite
HamptonFYI@bryangrant Replied via DM to you, please provide me some contact information so that we can discuss.3:46pm, Aug 24 from HootSuite
BryanGrant@thehamptoninn @HamptonInn@HamptonFYI internet is still hosed. Busy couple upstairs banged around until 3:30am. I must switch rooms.11:20am, Aug 25 from HootSuite
HamptonFYI@bryangrant This information has been added to you file.2:46pm, Aug 25 from HootSuite
BryanGrant@hamptonfyi Thank you for sending 2 nights free. Did u ever resolve Internet issues for all other customers?, Oct 22 from HootSuite

Two years ago, I had a similar result related to a Washing Machine Delivery botched by HomeDepot that ended up earning me a $300 discount on the purchase.

So.. Twitter can really Light up a Flame!

You can also use it to get timely emergency updates. When the Hurricanes were swarming up the east coast in August 2011, my relative's beach house was in danger, but they were unable to reach anyone to inspect the property during or after the storm passed.

I went on twitter, and posted the following to the local Police Dept near the house, they actually went over, checked it out, and replied back via twitter.. within a matter of a few hours. My relatives enjoyed peace of mind as a result.

Here is the interaction:

BryanGrantAug 27, 1:25am via HootSuite
@PawleysIslandPD do u think #irene passing during outbound tide helped? Was creek loop rd itself under h2o along creek?
Hide conversation
BryanGrant@pawleysislandpd how much #ireneflooding was there on creek loop rd on north causeway? We've got a house there. Thanks!12:55am, Aug 27 from HootSuite
PawleysIslandPD@BryanGrant Not sure in the back but there wasn't much on N Causeway. Island roads saw up to 4 feet on south end.1:10am, Aug 27 from UberSocial for BlackBerry
BryanGrant@PawleysIslandPD do u think #irene passing during outbound tide helped? Was creek loop rd itself under h2o along creek?1:25am, Aug 27 from HootSuite

Lesson 6: Dont skimp on the Hashtags

The entire purpose behind any of our activities in non-profit is to generate awareness of the organization's Mission. For a rugby team, that means getting more players and fans to turn up. Similarly, for animal rescue, it means more volunteers, more people sharing the posts so that person who can actually take action will know about the opportunity in the first place, and to generate awareness, advocating changes to stop killing all these animals while taxpayers foot the bill for the slaughter of voiceless innocents that end up in animal control usually owing to irresponsible ownership of the pets, chiefly not bothering to spay and neuter.

Hashtags supercharge this strategy. They enable a HUGE "long-tail" (forgive the pun) or "splash"-effect into new audiences. 

"The “long tail” theory took shape in an article by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, which grew into the 2006 book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More."
The original article by the Guru of Long Tail, Chris Anderson,  in Wired Magazine, The Long Tail
"This is not just a virtue of online booksellers; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for the media and entertainment industries, one that is just beginning to show its power. Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at Netflix to music videos on Yahoo!" 
It is the wildwest when using Hashtags. Anyone can co-op an existing hashtag, or create a new one.
Proper use of Hashtags is equally useful as properly Mentioning an @username for the exact same reasons given in the Mention Lesson.
S/O is twitter-brief for Shout Out
#ff follow friday to give props to followers
#ww is woofwednesday similar to #ff for #petrescue peeps
#mm Mutt Monday similar to #ff for #petrescue peeps
#fb highlights it is on or related to Facebook. (@facebook S/O directly to Facebook the company.)
#rugby is obvious for tracking rugby comments
#rwc is rugbyworld cup
#occupy is for the Occupy Movement
#teaparty is for the Tea Party
#gapol is a tag for people following political activity in Georgia. #dnc #gop etc..
#petrescue is hashtag for people tuning into conversations related to the hashtag.
#animalrescue is another.. but it's longer and less used.those tuned into #petrescue will not necessarily hashtagged posts with #animalrescue and vice versa. To be seen by both both hashtags would have to be present. Sometimes it is good to pick one or other, both, or post twice with two different hashtags. there is no one right answer here.

To focus the use of a Hashtag.. a user could Suggest as follows:
rt @seprr USA Rescuers Why waste characters on hashtags? Use #petrescue instead of
#animalrescue to focus the resq convo!

We also regularly post this Tweet to remind rescuers and ReTweeters so all the posts lead to trending our rescue topics.. and thereby getting a HUGE "long-tail" (forgive the pun) or "splash"-effect into new audiences.

^TREND^ ResQ Posts: Use  #petrescue #animalcontrol #pts #euthanize #occupy #animalcontrol #homelesspet #state #city via @seprr

Translated: Increase Topic Trending Statistics to increase visibility of your own posts by using the following Hashtags to focus the conversation around these hashtag meme/topic areas #hashtag1 #hashtag2 etc etc.

Schedule this announcement to go out a few times a week so the #hashtag gets established in the topic community.
Lesson 6: Social Media Aggregators or "Dashboards"
Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, & other related services allow a social media manager to control all the various social media assets in oen dashboard. Hootsuite allows Teams to share SM Assets. The other two Tweetdeck and Seesmic are for one user managing personal SM Assets and few other SM items.

Personally, I pay to use Hootsuite to manage my tweets.. for several reasons, but the leading reason is that I can pre-schedule tweets to post from an unlimited # of twitter accounts.. with the click of the button. Hootsuite also has a wide range of social media service providers to use. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, MySpace, LinkedIn. etc.

Pre-Scheduling Posts
So.. These posts are for the PBR #petrescue event example from above.
I schedule these to go out on various Twitter accounts and Fan Pages, and FB User Profiles.

Just 2 wks away! Join as @atlpetresq  @steamhouseloung &; @pabstblueribbon PBR for Pups Benefit #atl #petrescue via @seprr

This Weekend! @atlpetresq  #petrescue ADOPTIONS @ THE AVENUE in @cityofmarietta (E Cobb) #atl #petrescue via @seprr

Today! @atlpetresq #petrescue ADOPTIONS @ THE AVENUE in @cityofmarietta (E Cobb) #atl #petrescue via @seprr

Hapnin NOW! @atlpetresq #petrescue ADOPTIONS @ THE AVENUE in @cityofmarietta (E Cobb) #atl #petrescue via @seprr

#atl is geo-location tag
@seprr is the org who promotes rescues in SM, handling a lot of @angelsrescue social media strat, and their day to day posting. @seprr should be referenced. As the @seprr network grows,@seprr can drive rescue interested audiences to other rescues in need of visibility.

Lesson 7
Shortened & Reusable Links
Shortened Links ( is a good one) allow a degree of visibility of how many click thrus for a link, who is clicking, from where, and usually their twitter accounts and FB usernames can be tracked. Yep.. big brother. ALL link shortners have some level of this functionality.

Resusable Links are easier to manage. Rinse and Repeat. is a re-usable link to any event posted on @atlpetresq 's fan page.. the user lands on the events page, will see all the other events along with this one, and then can easily pick from a wider range of events as well as rsvp for this one.

Lesson 8: Other odds n ends
Lists are useful to track people who RT your posts, who generally support what you support, are a source of good posts for you to RT, etc. Use them. Obvious Lists to create and maintain are donors, sponsors, media, volunteers. Those users listed can be seen by others as having been listed by your account. Gives street cred to that User since someone else has listed them. is a very useful way to manage your twitter visibility. Just visit the site and follow the instructions. Only specific advice to consider: Select the Tags with the highest user numbers associated.


Unknown said...

Wow that is a lot of info about tweeting! I will have to reread it again tomorrow when I am more awake. I will have to tweet about this too. Thank you for all the tips. I have been using twitter and hootsuite and I am sure I have been doing a lot wrong up to now.

Valerie said...

Thanks for a very informative post! I haven't been very good at twitter, so this should really help.

atl2arctic said...

Contest for great #ATL #ga #petrescue #twitter handles! via @seprr & @tribedogs

atl2arctic said...

A Val, well you are a total Pro with Blogging. You will find Twitter very easy to use.. takes about 15-30 minutes to get the hang of it if you use the article as a reference to guide you along how to draft and share the tweets.