A Brief List of Do’s and Don’ts for Printers in the Twitterverse

Image courtesy of Rob Cottingham

By now, you may have finally given in to those pesky Twitterers, who excel at condensing their lives into 140 character status updates. You may have also realized that Twitter isn’t quite as egocentric as you thought, with a good bit of news and useful information flying around, as well as the token “Here’s what I’m eating for lunch” status updates. And maybe you’ve even started to build up a following on Twitter to read the posts you’ve composed, and you’re feeling pretty good about starting off. In the printing industry, working effectively on Twitter and reaching your target audience can be tricky. Unless you serve the average consumer, you might find that most of your customers don’t use this service. Twitter is still a pretty new site, having not really caught on until a couple of years ago, and it’s still dominated by the “social media gurus,” the media, and random teens who love tweeting about Justin Bieber. If those aren’t your customers, then it may seem difficult to find others to connect with, and compose meaningful updates. However, it can be done, and there are printing companies successfully using Twitter to share information about the company and the industry at large. You just have to know where to find them. And of course, since I already mentioned that the media loves Twitter, this site can be a great way to push your newsworthy topics directly to their attention, especially if you’ve befriended the correct contacts and already follow them. You can win a lot of free press and publicity without too much effort. Here’s a list of some other ways to use (and avoid using) Twitter.

Do: Give us beyond surface level information about your company. Do you have a big project you’re working on? A new product rolling out? A fantastic partnership that you’ve just solidified? We want to hear about it! Of course, not everything can be shared freely, but Twitter is an excellent tool for providing your followers with daily news briefs about the latest and greatest at your company, ensuring that your daily work doesn’t go unnoticed.

Don’t: Talk about yourself all the time. Maybe Twitter was originally used for you to tell us all about you…but that’s changed. Today, most people on Twitter expect you to provide useful and entertaining content first and foremost, and they will probably get annoyed if that content is always about you and how awesome you are. Be sure to keep up-to-date on industry news and freely share it with your followers, and make good use of the re-tweet (RT) button to publicize your followers’ content — they’ll thank you for it.

Do: Connect with your customers. If you do find that one of more of your customers are on Twitter, by all means, connect with them! Be sure to follow them and send them a personal message that shows your excitement about connecting in another venue. Pay attention to their status updates and re-post them — especially if it’s good news, or information about a meaningful cause. This is a great way to get closer to your customers and show that you care about them beyond the sale.

Don’t: Only talk to your customers. Twitter is full of potential customers and the aforementioned media and industry experts who might not even know you exist. Be sure to follow some of them and start conversations with them as well…again, the RT button can be your best friend. You can also speak directly to them, commenting on any of their statuses and adding your opinion to anything they’ve already posted. It’s a good way to bring your company directly to their attention, and they might find your input so thought-provoking that they poke around to learn more about you and your company.

Do: Establish your company as a “go-to” source for expert knowledge in your field. Search for printing related questions that you can answer on Twitter (hint: you don’t have to follow someone to respond to a post). Provide useful facts about the advantages of your method, and work to debunk techie jargon that may keep the average Joe befuddled about what your company really does. Try to find great news in your field and post it first — others will RT it, which will spread your content and your name.

Don’t: Worry that Twitter won’t do anything for you because you don’t have anything to say. Everyone has something to say, and it may benefit you to take notes at the office each day about projects that the group is working on, or goals for the week. This can spawn useful content about the latest and greatest at your company, which will show your followers that you’re always up to something new. Even if there’s nothing new going on, use that Twitter time to connect with your followers, join conversations, and seek out questions to answer. This time is well-spent both in establishing your expertise and in demonstrating that you’re interested in what others have to contribute.

Do: Have fun with it! Twitter can be very valuable for your business, but you don’t want to make all of your posts straight-laced and business focused. Use some of your updates to show your personality, whether you’re commenting on that news story about the giant cat, complimenting a customer on a new profile picture, or sharing a funny joke or picture (on the appropriate side, of course). Social media is just that — social — and the fun-loving people are usually those to draw a crowd.

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