Twitter time-savers: Tweet success in just 20 minutes a day

“How much time should I spend on Twitter?” is a question I get asked repeatedly. And last week one person upped the game by asking, “But what if I only have 20 minutes a day?”

OK, I accept the challenge!  Here are my thoughts on being an effective Twitter-er in only 20 minutes a day. I’ve divided this into two categories — 20 minutes a day for beginners and then experienced folks.

The 20-minute challenge for beginners

In a world focused on “engagement” and “conversation” I’m going to give some unconventional advice — Forget about it for a few weeks. If you’re a beginner and can only spend 20 minutes a day on Twitter, concentrate on building a relevant tribe of followers. Two reasons for this:

  • You’ll become disheartened trying to engage with people if there is nobody interesting to engage with and
  • Twitter is simply boring if you’re only following 12 people and you’ll probably quit. Critical mass means following at least 150 active tweeters.

So in the first two months, tweet at least once a day so people see that you’re active, but spend half of your time finding and following interesting people.  Don’t worry if they follow back or not. That will come in time.

In this related post on building influence through Twitter, I’ve listed some easy ways to identify and follow interesting people who are relevant to your business and interests. And if you’re just starting out and need some advice on what to tweet about, here is some help on that topic.

Now for the other half of your time, spend it reading, and occasionally responding to, tweets from your new friends.  This will give you the chance to see what kind of tweets you like, which is instructive when you start tweeting more heavily yourself.  If you’re unfamiliar with the quirky language of Twitter, do a search for one of the many tutorials that are out there. Most people quit in the first two weeks, so hang in there and get help if you need it!

The 20-minute challenge for pros

Let’s face it, if you’re really immersed in Twitter, the challenge is probably how to not spend ALL your time on this addictive little channel!  Once you have surrounded yourself with an interesting tribe, it’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” and follow link after interesting link.

Now that you have built up a critical mass of followers, it’s time to take advantage of this amazing resource and engage and build meaningful connections.  Here are a few time-saving corner-cutters:

1) Get in the habit of sharing. You’re constantly reading on the Internet any way, right?  It’s so easy to share an article, post or video these days by clicking on that little Twitter “share” icon.  Don’t worry what it’s about. If it’s interesting to you, it will probably be interesting to your Twitter friends, too.  Just be yourself and let your Twitter audience find YOU!

2) If you’re only spending 20 minutes a day, do it at different times of the day so you have the chance to interact with a broader range of people.

3) By now you’re using some kind of an organizing tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, right?  It’s an excellent way to improve your efficiency by helping you focus on those who are actively connecting with you.

4) One of the most time-efficient Twitter strategies is to look for opportunities to re-tweet posts. This has two important benefits. First, you’re providing interesting and meaningful content to your followers with little time investment on your part. Second it is a way to connect with somebody and compliment them with a tweet.  And don’t just re-tweet the same people all the time.  When you can, glance through the whole Twitterstream and look for opportunities to connect to new folks.

5) Another great time-saver is using a Twitter app for a smart phone. Use those idle minutes waiting to pick up the kids at school!

Can you keep up with everything going on? No way. Not even if you spent 10 hours a day!  Being effective in 20 minutes a day means knowing how to use these time-saving tips and then having the discipline to prioritize. Here’s what works for me:

  • My first priority is to see who has mentioned me in tweets.  I don’t take that for granted. People are reaching out to me and trying to connect, so I want to engage with them, even if it is a simple “thank you.”
  • Next, I look at direct messages and quickly sift through the spam to make sure I don’t miss something important from a friend.
  • I have my TweetDeck set up with columns with marketing thought leaders, people who are active on my blog, local friends, and other topics.  I scan through each column to see what some of my favorite people are saying and look for opportunities to engage and re-tweet.
  • I’m constantly reading throughout the day and clicking the “tweet button” to share interesting articles. One problem I have is that I tend to share in chunks, so I will be inactive for most of the day and then send a flurry of tweets because I’m in reading mode. That may be annoying to some followers. Of course it is possible to schedule tweets to even things out through various services including HootSuite but that takes a little more time and the idea of “scheduling” tweets seems fake to me. A personal choice.
  • Don’t forget to show you’re human. If you’re in a queue some place, write a quick tweet to let people know what’s going on in your day.

Those are a few of my ideas for saving time and still being an effective citizen of the Twitterverse. What’s working for you? How do you spend your time most efficiently on Twitter?

This is what happens when Barbie joins Twitter

This week Mattel announced a new video Barbie that has a tiny camera embedded in her chest (YouBoob?).  The iconic doll has fully joined the social media movement by leading her fans through a Foursquare scavenger hunt, Facebook puzzles and YouTube adventures.  She even has a Twitter account. Check out her tweet stream:

So here I am laying in a pile of naked Barbies again.  Feeling a strange tingly sensation. : p

@Skipper Of course I’m bitchy.  My boyfriend’s a eunuch.

Have you heard about new Blogger Barbie?  Sits at the computer all day. WTF?

Just got back from set of  Toy Story 3.  Potato Head was wasted again. #douchebag

@Ken No, no honey. Eunuch is Spanish word for HOT!  Luv U baby!

Let’s dress up!  I want to be Lady Gaga and shoot fire from my boobs!

Sitting at the Dream House watching #OldSpice on YouTube.  Yeah, well my man smells like polychlorates.

I would give anything to be able to take a good crap.

@mattel  So sick of pink I could hurl. Am I being sponsored by Pepto Bismol or what? #newcontract

Head just popped off again.  Not easy texting with nose.

@Ken LOL!  Polychlorates is the Spanish word for cinnamon silly!  Luv U baby!

I have now been under this damn couch for a week.  Need to get my drink on.

Being chewed up by the dog. Later!

For my friends around the world who are unfamiliar with Barbie, this was not real. It is supposed to be funny.

Can The Shirtless Old Spice Guy pull off a marketing miracle?

Unless you’ve been in a cave this week, it would have been hard to avoid the splendid, amazing and entertaining Old Spice media blitz, which includes brilliant ads and one of the best social media campaigns in the young history of the channel.

“Hello Ladies,” says the oh-so-manly Old Spice guy. “Does your man look like me?  No.  Can he smell like me? Yes.”

While the hilarious Old Spice ads have been an Internet hit on their own for months (5.5 million views), everything changed this week.

As TNW reports, the Old Spice social media team had secretly been collecting people’s – and especially celebrity – questions and responses across Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Answers, and were preparing for this week’s all-day-video-shoot where Shirtless Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa) would provide video responses. This included providing a proxy wedding proposal (that was accepted!).

Literally, an over-night marketing legend was created (here’s a link to some of the stats).

I don’t need to re-hash the details of the campaign.  Instead I’d like to point out that this is an extremely rare example of a brand attempting to entirely re-invent itself.  To accomplish that, you need it all — vision, guts, brilliance, execution, and a lot of advertising money.

There have been plenty of others who have tried to go down this perilous path and failed (remember “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile?”).  This drive to resuscitate Old Spice may go down as one of the most ballsy moves in marketing history.

Despite numerous attempts at an updated image, OldSpice was still languishing behind edgier brands like Axe. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the ad agency (Wieden+Kennedy) made this pitch: “While the  historical Old Spice customer is an ulta-conservative white male in his mid-50s, we would like our new spokesperson to be a half-naked black man flaunting his manliness to women under 40.”  Sure, the social media is genius. But what I admire most is that they may have finally taken a quantum-leap toward achieving this:
Old Spice … the pungent, stinging stuff my DAD used to splash on his face each morning, is now a trending topic on Twitter, not to mention riding the top of Digg, Reddit and a ton of mainstream news stories. The story is all the more remarkable because of how awful Old Spice ads have been in recent years. Remember the “centaur” ad during the Super Bowl?

Another break-through aspect of this campaign is how a blue-chip brand truly integrated a multi-million-dollar mainstream advertising campaign with the social web.  Even recent successes like the wildly-successful Nike World Cup mini-movie seemed to occupy a special niche as a pure social media play.  Can you think of another high-profile example where the TV spokesperson is really interacting and responding to people on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? This may be the start of real integration.

This social media campaign has built tremendous momentum in just a few days. Will this actually sell body wash?  What will happen to the brand’s core demographic?  Will we witness a true marketing miracle? Will the Old Spice Guy suffer from (ahem) over-exposure?

And now it appears that the social media onslaught has just as quickly some to an end. Today, the “Guy,” chainsaw in hand, says in a final tweet and video “like all great things this too must end.”  And then he catches a giant fish that falls from nowhere.

So what will happen next in this campaign? Some guesses:

  • Customer contributions to their own home-made shower commercials
  • Shirtless guy cameo appearances in real TV shows
  • Humorous , longer YouTube productions with how-to tips on how to be manly

What do you think?  I hope you’ll join me in appreciating this really special marketing campaign and tell me what you think about it in the comment section.

By the way, this blog post is dedicated to Arminda Lindsay (@AllArminda). Why?  Because she asked me to. You should know by now that I am basically the {grow} community’s personal blogger … kind of your word valet.   And Arminda wanted me to write about a half-naked black man.  So I did.

The best creativity technique known to mankind

OK, so my headlines tend to be a little sensational sometimes.  Not this one.

I want to share with you the absolute best, can’t-miss technique for truly breakthrough thinking I have ever used.  That sounds like a cheesy affiliate ad or something, but there’s no catch here. I am simply giving you one of my best leadership ideas.

But it gets better. This is also the best documented business case for workplace diversity I have ever seen.

Here we go …

First, you need to plan a brain-storming session with at least 10 diverse people.  Really shake up the diversity in every way you can. And the more people involved, the better. I’ve done this technique successfully with a room of 75 people. Be sure to tell them what the purpose of the meeting is and that they should come prepared with at least a few ideas.

Early in your meeting, have everybody rip off a big piece of easel paper and write their very best idea for the brainstorming topic at the top.  Make sure there is plenty of room below their idea to write additional ideas.

Now, have them go to the walls around the room, tape their idea to the wall and stand in front of it.

Have everybody slide over one space to their right so that they are standing in front of the idea next to them.  Ask the participants to read the idea written at the top carefully and then add to, or improve, the original idea and write their contribution below the first entry.

Now have everybody slide over TWO spaces — not just one!  The reason I do this is because you don’t want the same person continually following the thought process of the person in front of them. You are trying to mix up the mental frameworks.

Write a better idea based on what is on the page so far and then have everybody slide again. This time count off three spaces. Read what has been written so far and add to it or improve it once again.

Do this one more time. Slide over just one space and ask them to come up with a better idea than what has been written so far.

Now introduce a random prompt. Have everybody slide over two spaces and ask them something like:

  • How could this idea be illegal?
  • What would happen if this idea was invisible?
  • What would you do to this idea to have people pay a hundred dollars for it?
  • What would happen if this idea was in the dark, or under water?

The reason for these strange questions is to try to get your participants to look at the idea in a totally new perspective. One time I was leading a creativity session to come up with ways that consumers could interact with packaging in a new way. Once when I gave the “invisible” prompt, a housewife came up with an idea for an instant win game that made people a winner if they had the right barcode at a check-out scanner.

OK, now shift one more time. Two spaces. Ask them to read everything on the page and write one more great idea based on everything that is on the page so far.

Then have them go back to their original idea, read the entire page and circle the best idea on the page.

This is when the magic happens.  About 95% of the time, the idea they circle is NOT their original idea! In less than 15 minutes you can turn all of your good ideas into great, perhaps even break-through, ideas.

The theory behind this technique

When I was in grad school studying organizational development, I learned that our basic mental framework — how we process information — is basically complete by the time we are 15 years old.  So literally, it is impossible for you to think “out of the box” because you are permanently hard-wired.

For true break-through thinking to occur on a team, we must combine the boxes we have available. This is why the diversity of the participants is so important. You don’t want to do this where everybody is a numbers-type or creative-type or even all of a certain age or culture heritage. The more boxes you can combine and complement each other, the better the results.  Always!

Even if you are trying to solve a technical problem, invite people from marketing, accounting, HR … maybe even from another division or company all together. I’ve even conducted creativity sessions like this on behalf of a Fortune 100 company with a fifth-grade class just to see what they could come up with.

There is a tremendous secondary benefit to this technique. Notice I said it was important to do this early in your meeting. Typically, when people see the amazing work they’ve done in just 15 minutes, they are energized, engaged and confident in your process. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Applying this to the web

I’ve tried to apply this technique to an online setting by shuffling ideas between far-flung participants. It has not worked very well. There is something about the interaction of a boisterous group, a shared experience, the physical movement and the sense of momentum and accomplishment from the live exercise that can’t be duplicated when folks are behind computers in cubicles.

Are you ready to give it a try? I’d love to hear about it. If you have a question, feel free to call me or drop me a line. Happy brainstorming!

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