social media ropes to skip: Twitter FAQ #2

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/13 · 2 comments 1 views

in c micro-blogging Twitter

    Using metrics for assessing your social media efforts can be a disaster. Worst is when making some unnecesary mistakes, thereby wasting your and your customer’s time. These errors could even upset some important people.

    Social Media is made up of an easy to use toolset that allows people and small companies to communicate using different means, such as:

    blogs (EU-IST), podcasts, social networks (e.g., Xing, Linkedin), micro-blogs (e.g., Twitter) and yet to be developed publishing tools.

Succeeding on Twitter means avoiding making some of the most obvious mistakes, such as:

    Mistake 1 – let us wait
    Mistake 2 – NOT moderating the aggregate Twitter feed,
    Mistake 3 – focusing on absolute number of followers

as we explained here:

social media – ropes to skip – Twitter – FAQ #1

Today we focus on mistakes D through F. Avoiding making these will once again save you time and much grief.

D Is there a language factor I should consider.

Much of the communicating on Twitter happens in English. Some data suggest that over a week about 60% of tweets are written in English.

However, as we have pointed out, non-native English speakers outnumber native speakers 3:1 in this world:

trend spotting – Twitter – checklist for building trust with your global social media audience

Therefore, even if you do all your tweets in English, a significant percentage of those following you will be non-native speakers. The same applies for other languages more or less. For instance, doing a French tweet does not mean that most people reading it are native speakers.

Mistake 4 – believing everybody’s mother tongues is English (French, Japanese, etc): While 60% or so of all the tweets are in English we would estimate that no more than 25% of these people or 15% of all tweets on Twitter are written by native speakers.

So avoid using slang, abbreviations (e.g., rcvd means received) and humour.

E Could culture be an important variable?

Conceptions of culture as a shared meaning system suggest that a person can make meaningful and relatively accurate judgments about one’s own culture (e.g., Wan, Chiu, Tam, Lee, Lau and Peng, 2007 – Perceived cultural importance and actual self-importance of values in cultural identification. J of Personality and Social Psychology, pp. 337-354).

Predictors of personality traits (e.g., behavioral measures of ‘pace of life‘ – walking speed, postal workers’ speed, and the accuracy of clocks in public banks – Levin and Norenzayan, 1999 – The pace of life in 31 countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, pp. 178-205) correlate highly with how people see their own culture (working in a world were clocks are on time and people work effectively leads people to adopt conscientious habits – latter help shape and focus surrounding culture) (Heine, Buchtel & Norenzayan, 2008 – What do cross-national comparisons of personality traits tell us? The case of conscientiousness. Psychological Science, pp. 309-313).

What does this mean when using Twitter? The above suggests that in some cultures, we may be more willing to share and talk about our more personal things using a tweet to say something like this:

Happy Mother’s day, what are you doing for today?

In other cultures, we are more reserved and maybe even critical about getting these things via Twitter.

Mistake 5 – behaviors speak louder than words: If we claim to be responsive to cultural diversity, then we need to accept this and behave accordingly. Hence, are your tweets reflective of the fact that you may have people following you from different cultures?

Do not believe that the American way is how it goes… if you care about your clients, please respect their cultural peculiarities and characteristics. Less chaff may be worth more = fewer tweets per day may make their day!

F Should we have different Twitter feeds for different events or target audiences?

Jeremiah whom I respect very much wrote on Twitter: “BTW I use twitter as my link feed, I point to whatever I find interesting, work related or personal.” Urs’ answer to Jeremiah

Two reasons why the above strategy fails with my clients in Europe:

1) If we refer to points D and E above, this works great if your followers all come from the same part of the woods or geographical region. More likely is that your followers come from different cultures and not all are native-English speakers. Hence, they may not understand some of your personal stuff relating to going to a particular restaurant in town or having a great or not so great experience last night (= how ‘relevant’ is your private info to me?).

2) I follow 7 people so far, if all of them write about 20 tweets a day interwoven with personal, hobby and work-related stuff, it takes too much time. If you follow 50 people and each one of them sends you 10 tweets a day, what a waste of time to delete/ignore those not related to work or those not related to your hobbies.

3) Imagine coming back from a long weekend (e.g., Pentecost – in Europe many of us get Monday off) – you will be beaten to death with all the tweets you have to read from all those people tweeting away over the weekend …. please make sure your customers do not suffer from such a ‘Twitter spam attack.’

Mistake 6 – if you want to serve your clients, focus on work and do not tell me that you are going out with a client to have lunch, who gives, instead provide your clients with beef/content

Going Solo conference for freelancers, May 16th, Lausanne (Switzerland).

A good example is the Twitter feed for a conference or a customer appreciation day you might have sometime in the future. Examples are:

Going Solo (see to the right) or the

Social Media Influence Conference

Both the above are of interest to people attending these events and keep them posted about things they might want to know before going to the conference.

Other examples are our own Twitter feeds. We have several and each one focuses on different matters. Such as our

– Twitter feed for the benchmarking software,

– Twitter account informing our InfoSec experts,

– CASEScontact security portal Twitter micro-blog for home-users and SMEs.

follow us on Twitter see the difference of these Twitter feeds from us

All of these have very low frequency, whereby ComMetrics may have less than 3 tweets a day and the other two less than 1 per day.

If you want to know about our hobby or when we go out with our kid to play in the sandbox (who would want to know is my question)… you have to be invited to our personal feed, that simple.

Bottom Line

Remember your e-mail strategy is to effectively manage the volume of e-mail and, unfortunately, spam you get. Similar with Twitter, have different accounts for different things (private vs. business). Reduce the chaff, send your clients tweets but,

    1) make sure that it is relevant and of interest to them – if you are in doubt, do not tweed about this item – less is better since time is money;

    2) some of your followers may not be native-English speakers (or non-native compared to whatever language you use), therefore, avoid using slang, buzz words and abbreviations – your non-native speakers will be thankful and more likely understand what you are trying to get across;

    3) cultural differences – meaning humour fails more often than not and while one person finds it funny the other could be easily offended as the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad demonstrate – stay away from using humour when tweeting.

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