Tag Archives | social media

The odd thing about Twitter

One of my Twitter objectives is to get @messages and RTs.

@messages are when someone mentions you in a tweet so their followers see your username and may choose to follow you too. Increasing your followers is a good thing, because then more people have the opportunity to read your tweets, find out what you do, and maybe eventually book you or recommend you for some work.

RTs are retweets, when you tweet something to your network of followers and one of them passes it on to their own network of followers, therefore increasing your reach. It’s an example of how incredibly viral Twitter can be, and a sign that you’re tweeting content of value.

The odd thing about Twitter is that results don’t always come from the tweets you expect.

For example, I recently started tweeting an occasional ‘word of the day’. This isn’t an entirely random action. As a writer, it’s a good fit with my brand identity and was partly for my own amusement. I don’t tweet definitions, just words that I like for whatever reason.

However, I was surprised by the response.

I often receive @messages from people asking what the word means, or sharing a story that the word reminds them of.

One day, I even received an email from a PR company that follows me on Twitter, saying ‘Where was yesterday’s word? We were looking forward to it!’

I now make sure I tweet a new word every day (scheduling them on days when I’m out of the office). The PR company, and others, RT them, and my follower numbers have increased.

What can you tweet regularly, that fits with your brand identity and will trigger such a response?



What the FF?

Twitter has a reputation for being full of people telling you what they had for breakfast or commenting on the weather. It’s true, there is a lot of that about.

You’ll also see a lot of tweets that include #ff or #FF (the # hashtag makes it a clickable link to all tweets with the same keyword). It stands for Follow Friday, as a Twitter tradition has evolved where you recommend people to follow, you guessed it, every Friday.

Many Twitter-users just tweet #ff along with a list of names, but that doesn’t give you any clue about why you should follow them, and I doubt that it has any effect.

The correct protocol is to structure your tweet like this:

#ff @username [reason]

For example:

#ff @jackiebarrie because her tweets are as fabulous as she is!

If you sell a product, you want reviews. If selling a service, you want testimonials. If selling yourself (e.g. on LinkedIn), you want recommendations. And on Twitter, you want FFs.

It’s flattering to be FFed, because it means someone has taken the trouble to recommend you. Because of that, you’ll also notice people tweeting repeated public ‘thank yous’. I can’t see the point of that myself, and prefer to thank people privately by DM (Direct Message) if at all.

Netiquette tip: Note that you are not obliged to #ff people in return, although some probably hope you will!

Fab #FollowFriday comic from the Oatmeal


All work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl

Remember, it’s social media. By taking a social approach, I have won work direct from Twitter. Perhaps surprisingly, I was recently invited to review and rewrite a website in response to a link I tweeted to an Innocent Drinks’ game for kids!

As well as following various business contacts, I also follow a few genuine celebrities who tweet interesting stuff (you can tell whether they’re verified accounts if there is a tick in a blue circle by their name).

Of course I follow @stephenfry. Doesn’t everybody? Sample tweets:

  • Everyone sells their ass here in Cape Town. The no. of times you hear “buy a donkey” That’ll only make sense to Afrikaans speakers, I fear
  • @Marina_203 We’ll have to face the fact that it can’t have been me. I believe i’ve never had a “Chicken McNuggett” and fear I never will.
  • The nice people @iglooanimations have animated a conversation I had somewhere with someone: dashed if I remember it!

And I follow some spoof accounts that make me smile. Here are some of their typical tweets:


  • Final preparations for Zara’s wedding tomorrow. If Mr Tindall hasn’t had his nose done, the whole thing is off. One can assure you.
  • One is delighted that you’ve made such an enormous profit, British Gas. No doubt you’ll be immediately cutting fuel bills?
  • Ok people, Gin O’Clock. It’s all downhill to the weekend from here. #ginoclock


  • Yes, “Diagon Alley” is a play on the word “Diagonally.” No, you’re not clever for figuring that one out.
  • The Greatest Harry Potter Moments all involve Severus Snape. If you disagree, you are wrong.
  • #ThingsWeLearnedOnTwitter: Muggle schools don’t do a good enough job of teaching the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

What are your favourite spoof accounts?


What’s your social media content strategy?

When I talk to non-users about social media, these are some of the most common complaints I hear:

“There isn’t enough news about my business.”

“Why is anyone interested in what I had for breakfast?”

“I just don’t know what to say.”

These people may be right, however, they’re missing the point.


Social media is not solely about broadcasting news; it’s a conversational medium. Your objective is to engage with people, not ‘shout’ advertising at them. True, you can mix in press release announcements among other content. But why should anyone be interested in updates that solely comprise news of your organisation?

It’s better to share links to interesting articles about your industry, give hints and tips that demonstrate your expertise, or just ask a relevant question for research and development purposes.


It’s fair to say that social media has a reputation for being full of trivia. I think of it like a jumble sale; you have to rummage around a lot of rubbish to find the hidden gems. Yes, some people do tell the world that they’ve just made a cup of tea, what the weather is like, or discuss the latest celebrity gossip. Their objective is to start a conversation and build relationships.

When you meet a new client face-to-face, you might talk about the weather, the journey, or what was on TV last night. So it’s fine to include a certain amount of chit-chat in your social media output.

The clue is in the word ‘social’!

People do business with people they like. If your updates come across as trustworthy, interesting and likeable, they will check out your profile, and book or refer you when the time is right.


Most people don’t search the Internet looking for adverts. Apart from e-commerce, people go to the Internet for two reasons — information and entertainment. So that’s what you need to provide them with.

Include useful information on your website or blog, to make it ‘sticky’. That makes it more likely that people who visit the site will stay and return. Link to these added-value pages throughout social media, and check your Analytics to see the change in site visitors.

For entertainment, you can link to YouTube videos that are a good fit with your brand, for example. Click the ‘share’ button and you can even embed the code so the video plays within your own webpage.


So there you have it. In my view, your social media content should comprise a mix of information and entertainment, interaction and added value. And once you have a decent content strategy in place, you will never run out of things to say. Your friends, fans and followers will grow, and ultimately, it will drive traffic to your site and boost your sales.

After all, that’s the whole point, isn’t it!

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking.


Twittle Red Riding Hood

Want to know how Twitter works? Read this story as a novel way to learn about the etiquette of Twitter code, conversation and content.

(With apologies to the real owners of these usernames)

@ LittleRedRidingHood Pls would you take this basket of food and deliver it to @ Grandma?

@ Mum OK, although I’m a bit scared going through the forest on my own

@ LittleRedRidingHood Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers

Just checked in to ‘The Forest’ on FourSquare

@ LittleRedRidingHood Where are you going, little girl?

RT @Mum Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers // That means YOU!

@ LittleRedRidingHood *Sniffs. What’s that in your basket? #HungryLikeAWolf

@ BigBadWolf Some goodies for my Grandma. Now go away and leave me alone

Just checked in to ‘Grandma’s House’ on FourSquare

@ BigBadWolf Who’s that? ARRGGGHHHH!!!

Just swallowed Grandma whole. What did you have for lunch today?

Now dressed in Grandma’s clothing. What are you wearing today?

@ Grandma OMG, what big eyes you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to see you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big ears you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to hear you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big TEETH you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to EAT you with, my dear. #HungryLikeAWolf

ARRGGGHHHH!!! #RunsAwayScreaming

For your chance to win a F.R.E.E. 30-minute telephone consultation about social media, email jackie@comms-plus.co.uk before 31/3/2013. One lucky winner will be picked from all entries received by the closing date. Good luck!

Nice day in #TheForest. What’s it like where you are?

@ Woodcutter Hayulp! Hayulp! @ BigBadWolf has got into @ Grandma’s account!

@ BigBadWolf Get out of @ Grandma’s account right now, or I will Block you and report you as Spam

@ Woodcutter Grrr!

*Swings mighty chopper


Just escaped from inside @ BigBadWolf thanks to @ Woodcutter!

#FF @ Woodcutter So brave! So fearless!

D LittleRedRidingHood Mmm, you look nice in red xxx

D Woodcutter Thanks, shall we have a Tweetup?


Key to Twitter code

@ Username = Clickable link to a particular
Twitter user in a public message that other Twitter users can see

RT = Retweet = Tweet that is passed on by other Twitter users

#Hashtag = A way to collate all tweets about a particular keyword

#FF = Follow Friday = A recommendation to other Twitter users to follow a particular username

OMG = Oh My God

Pls = Please

D = Direct Message = A private message only possible between Twitter users who follow each other and only seen by them

Tweetup = Meetup arranged on Twitter

This article was originally published on Business on Twitter.

One of the services I provide for clients is writing Twitter and Facebook updates as the voice of their brand. Alternatively, I can train you how to do it yourself. Please contact me if you’d like some social media help.

This article has also been published on Fresh Business Thinking and Business on Twitter


2 ways to separate business and personal on Facebook

1. Use ‘friend lists’ to send separate status updates

Go to your Profile

> Friends

> Edit friends

Choose ‘All friends’ from the dropdown list

> Create a list

(Or hover beside each x symbol to ‘Edit lists’ you have already created)

Click the Facebook logo and write your status update

Click the padlock symbol

> Custom

Under ‘Make this visible to’ choose ‘Specific people’

Type the name of your list e.g. ‘work’ or ‘home’

> Save setting

> Share

To check that it has worked the way you want…

Go to Account

> Privacy settings

> Customise settings

> Preview my profile

Type the name of an individual from your list/s, to see what they see when they look at your profile

2. Create a Facebook Page

Your Profile collects Friends; while your Page collects Likes (previously known as Fans). Your Page must be connected to your Profile (although if you don’t click to ‘Like’ your own Page, no-one will know you have anything to do with it).

Click the Facebook logo top left

> Adverts and Pages (which may be under ‘More’ in the left hand column) OR Search for ‘Pages’ and click the icon that looks like blue and green speech bubbles (NOT the icon that says ‘App’).

> Create Page


Local business or place


Company, organisation or institution


Brand or product


Cause or community

Choose Category

Name your page after your company (or for SEO)

N.B. Your Page Name Must Have Initial Capitals or Facebook Will Reject It!

Tick T&Cs

Get started

[EDIT: Since the launch of Google+ circles, Facebook has now changed the way it manages friend lists]


4 ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile

1. Edit your ‘professional headline’

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click ‘Edit’ by your name. Instead of just typing your job title and company name in the ‘Professional Headline’ field, write a keyword-rich description of what you do. This text shows up when your name is searched on Bing (it sometimes shows on Google too). The first line of your profile Summary shows in Yahoo search results, so fill that with benefit-led keywords too.

2. Give (and get) recommendations

What other people say about you is more convincing than anything you say yourself (as I keep banging on about!). So you need Reviews for your products, Testimonials for your services, and Recommendations for yourself. LinkedIn makes it easy to ask for recommendations. Go to Profile > Recommendations > Request recommendation (if you choose to do this, it’s good netiquette to customise the default ‘request’ message). I prefer to give recommendations instead, and get them back thanks to the law of reciprocity. The ‘Recommendation this person’ link is in the right hand column of each contact’s profile (naturally, people have to be in your LinkedIn network before you can recommend them).

3. Customise your URL and public profile

If you want to send the link to someone, you’ll find the default URL (web address) for your profile is not very catchy. Go to Profile > Edit Profile > Edit public profile to customise your URL i.e. change the random string of numbers to your own name, if available. You can also tick and untick the boxes on this page, to select which elements of your profile you want the public to see i.e. people not in your network. You will see a preview showing changes as you make them.

4. Make your website link keyword-rich

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click Edit by your website. Instead of choosing ‘Company website’ from the dropdown menu, choose ‘Other’. You can then customise the link text that clicks through to your website (this is good from a search engine point of view, and useful for human readers too).


Online networking through social media

You have probably heard about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Ecademy. But can business-owners really use them to make money? Yes. Especially when your online activity links to a blog, a newsletter and a website that add value.

People buy people

Just like face-to-face networking, online networking is about building relationships. It’s about changing strangers into friends, fans and followers. It’s not about the hard sell, pushing your wares out there. It’s about the soft sell, making yourself so attractive that buyers come to you.

Social media websites are proving an increasingly important route to market for me. For example, I met one of my key introducers on Ecademy. An ex-client came back to me when we re-connected on LinkedIn. And a new client responded to my blog critiquing their advert by booking me to do some copywriting. On FaceBook, I can enter into a dialogue with new people. They become aware of what I do for a living. And, when the opportunity arises, those that like me will recommend me. Because of Twitter, my website gets more hits, my blog gets more readers, and my newsletter gets more subscribers. And I get more business!

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you

With advertising, it’s said that your brand name needs to be seen at least 18 times before it’s in the front of people’s minds. By undertaking some online marketing activity, you can get your brand personality out there as often as you please. And the best news is that it costs you nothing except time.