Tweet as if your Grandmother was reading

Following on from yesterday’s post on how not to market your brand on Twitter, I see Chrysler also made a massive goof at the end of last week.


Mistakes happen, and one of the things we have noticed is how easy it is to Tweet from the wrong account using most of the social media tools available today. Its one of the scariest things about social media and is one of the risks we are looking at handling in our upcoming product.

In the meantime the best advice I can give you is this: whatever account you tweet from, keep a level of professionalism and only Tweet messages you’d be happy for your Grandmother to read. That way, even if you Tweet from the wrong account, you’ll simply lose a little face, not your job.


How not to use Twitter to market your brand

Over the weekend Bing became the latest brand to get stung trying to build a marketing effort around human disaster.


Oh Bing, how could you be so naive?

What happened next is a wave of anti-Bing blog posts and Tweets, followed 7 hours later (yes, it really took them 7 hours) – an official apology.

What is even more incredible, is that this came just a couple of weeks after Kenneth Cole got similarly slammed for trying to cash-in on the troubles in Egypt.


So, I hereby pronounce:

Twitter marketing commandment #1

Don’t try to market your brand off the back of human tragedy. Nothing good will come of it. Ever.

Twitter Clinic: #FF, DM and RT explained

By Linda Cheung

In the last Twitter Clinic I explained what hashtags are and how they can increase the reach of conversations. Some readers then asked me about the “mystifying acronyms” that often litter tweets: #FF, DM and RT were the top three…

#FF: Follow Friday

Follow Friday is a way to recommend interesting people to your followers. If Twitter is a global cocktail party, think about which people you “must introduce” to each other and why. While many people use all 140 characters of a tweet to fit in as many usernames as possible, including a reason helps the conversation to flow, e.g. “#FF @RedStarKim for her marketing wisdom, London food reviews and wry views” is much better than “#FF @JoannaMG22 @aligeary @chrisdaleoxford @janeslaws @social_sardine @dcd_barrister @AjeetMinhasGTB @GavWard @jillney @KeepingBizLocal” (All excellent tweeps that I’ve been chatting to this week by the way).

DM: Direct Message

Direct Messages are private messages sent to people who follow you (you cannot send DMs to people who do not follow you). To DM someone, start your message with the letter “d”, e.g. to send me a private message, you would start your tweet “d LindaCheungUK”.

Be careful not to exceed 140 characters – when tweets are longer, if Twitter receives it intact they will send your DM in two parts, but if your phone service provider (say) sends the message in two parts before sending to Twitter, the first part will be sent privately and the second part will post onto your public timeline.

RT: ReTweet

RT is an abbreviation of ReTweet, which some people think of as Repeat. If you see something in your stream that you’d like to share with your followers, you can RT it for them to see. One of the best things about Twitter is how quickly information can be shared – because Twitter is a one-to-many communications platform and because it allows content to be easily repeated.

When you send a ReTweet the text RT @<username> is added to the start of the tweet, so, if you want your tweets to be ReTweeted try to keep them below 120 characters. This minimises the rewording of your tweet that others will have to do and allows room for your username and a brief comment. For example,
Original tweet: “@BrettTechLawyer Soon… need to make sure quality is right. Folk on the Beta list will be first know. Signup at
RT by @connectegrity: “Re timing: RT @markbower: Need to make sure quality is right. Folk on #beta list will be first know. Signup at

Go on… give it a go… Happy #FF’ing, DM’ing and RT’ing!

Leave your phones on – How social media is changing business etiquette

imageAs a software start-up building on the Azure cloud, we’re part of the Microsoft BizSpark community. At their last event, there was live video streaming and Twitter interaction throughout. You didn’t need to be in the room to be part of the event and its conversations.

A fitting example of how insights could be shared in real time was given by Loic Le Meur who wrote and posted a blog inspired by his morning keynote during an afternoon panel discussion (if you look closely at Loic’s photos you can see Mark and I on the front row).

Compare this with a recent IoD event, where a glowing introduction to the event’s guest speaker was preceded by an instruction for attendees to switch off their phones. Ironically the central message of the event was that businesses need to be more open about sharing insights and make them more accessible. It was an excellent interactive workshop, but it completely missed that there are new tools for these (old) rules!

It frustrated me that I’d been asked to switch my phone off. I like to share real time insights and appreciate when Twitter friends (those I follow) do the same, especially when there’s an event of interest that I can’t physically join. Tweets widen the reach of conversations and add depth and perspective – real time responses add to my experience of events and it’s not unusual for me to ask a question to the room that has been put to me by someone outside of it.

When I raised these points to the guest speaker he was quick to see the irony and the benefits – especially when I mentioned that my tweets had caught the eye of a committee member at another IoD branch and might result in an additional speaking engagement.

Being a relatively new committee member of the IoD’s Young Directors Forum (YDF) I wasn’t sure how this comparison/feedback would be taken… I’m pleased to report there is now a commitment to request mobiles are left on (switched to silent) before future speaker introductions and the hashtag #YDF will be used for any related tweets.

I think good manners are very important and I’m not suggesting that it’s acceptable to text during dinner or use a laptop while driving (thanks Ajeet). Equally though, be aware that those tapping away on their phones may actually be listening more intently than those who aren’t, and increasing the reach of your meeting.

(Photo Credit: Laughing Squid)

Twitter Clinic: A hashtag case study


Yesterday, inspired by a new starter at CubeSocial, I shared my 5 must-dos to get started on Twitter.

I deliberated about whether or not to include hashtags (so called because they start with the # symbol) so wasn’t surprised when @lexi_pop highlighted how “hashtags had me stumped for a long time… I didn’t understand how to follow or check if a hashtag was already in use” and @JasonComer explained to other newbies that “these tags link together tweets from across the globe and connect you to others tweeting similar issues”.

I think of hashtags as labels which identify tweets, so that you can find likeminded peeps (tweeps as they’re known on Twitter) and conversations of interest. If Twitter is a virtual cocktail party, hashtags are the virtual equivalent of colour-coded name badges. Hashtags are user-generated, so are only limited by the length of a tweet (140 characters) and your imagination. As I write #thegrammys, #verysexy and #notsexy are topping UK Twitter’s trending topics list!

When you click on a hashtag you see the most recent tweets on that topic. You can read what others have tweeted, join in the discussion and/or identify tweeps of interest, who you might follow. And with my Twitter stream currently buzzing with questions and comments about #Lex2011tweetup, what’s better than a current scenario to illustrate how hashtags work…

Lex 2011 ( is a strategy conference for the legal profession. @BrianInkster is one of the speakers and we’ve been trying to coordinate a tweet-up (a real world meet-up that occurs as a consequence of Twitter) since the then ground-breaking “how lawyers are using social media” conference call:

Using #Lex2011, our conversation quickly widened to include other tweeting speakers, and a tweetup date was added to diaries. A few mutual friends (people who follow us both on Twitter) picked up on our use of these hashtags and were added to the attendee list:

#Lex2011 @BrianInkster @LindaCheungUK
#speakers @ChristianUncut @SteveKuncewicz @damienbehan
#mutualfriends @markbower @Ju_Summerhayes @beej777 @nipclaw

With a month to go until #Lex2011, @BrianInkster and I started talking about venues for our tweetup, with Brian selflessly offering to undertake a reconnaissance of the 40+ venues nearby! These tweets coincided with #FF (Follow Friday – where friends recommend other tweeps) and those who challenge me weekly to keep up the standard of my tweets with #nopressure asked why they hadn’t been invited, which lead to other mutual friends asking to be added to the attendee list:

#FF #nopressure: @gavward @michaelscutt @AjeetMinhasGTB
#mutualfriends: @jonathanlea @thenakedlawyer @shireensmith @legaleagleMHM

Use of #Lex2011tweetup was suggested sometime during these exchanges, to distinguish from the conference itself – which led to further questions about what this break-away event was, who was organising it, when and where. Through our use of hashtags, an informal tweetup become a twegal party!

#joiningtheparty @london_law_firm @ MaasJonathan @chrisdaleoxford @HeatherTowns @JohnAFlood @IkenCEO

#apologies @Oxfordlawyer @vicmoffatt

Clicking on #Lex2011tweetup now, I see that @BrianInkster is also talking to @vidocq_cc @Charonqc @law4mumpreneurs @ClareRodway, while @DeferoLaw asks “are invites to #Lex2011tweetup open or is there a special handshake needed?”

#Lex2011tweetup is an open event on Wednesday 16th March. We’re thinking circa 6pm, in the Holborn/Kingsway area. Use the hashtag to let us know you’re coming, and keep your eyes peeled on the hashtag for venue details from @BrainInkster. No special handshake required!

Now that you can see how hashtags can work, don’t you just love them?

Twitter Clinic: 5 must-dos to get started with Twitter


So you’ve been encouraged onto Twitter, signed up and created an account. Now what?

If you are brand new to social media, it can all seem a bit daunting, so here’s our top tips to get started…

  1. Upload a picture – There’s mixed opinion about whether business accounts should post a company logo or a photo of an individual, but everyone agrees that a picture of an egg (Twitter’s default) is a turn-off. You’ve joined Twitter to join the virtual cocktail party. Be aware of the dress code.
  2. Write a bio – While tweets are restricted to 140 characters, Twitter bios are a slightly more generous 160 characters. Continuing with the cocktail party analogy, think of your bio as how you would like to be introduced to people you would like to connect with… so that conversation doesn’t come to an abrupt end after your introduction!
  3. Find some peeps (or tweeps as they’re known on Twitter) to follow – Start with the individuals who encouraged you to sign up to Twitter and LinkedIn connections who have given Twitter usernames on their profiles. Assuming you have good relationships with the people you’re LinkedIn to, these follows will result in a trusted and forgiving network during your initial “lurk and learn”.
  4. Start tweeting – Silence is not golden on Twitter, but do be mindful that tweets are public and it’s difficult to delete your digital footprint. Think “old rules, new tools” – while you wouldn’t go to a physical cocktail party and not utter a single word the whole evening, you equally wouldn’t take centre-stage, grab a microphone, and start broadcasting your dirty laundry to everyone!
  5. Join the conversation – All means of accessing Twitter, be it the website itself or one of the various apps that sit on top of it, have reply functionality. (Confusingly for newcomers, this capability is officially termed mentions). If you see a question that you can help answer, or a tweet you have a cheeky retort for, hit reply (or mention) and join in. As @benasmith recently tweeted: “It’s called social media. Social. That requires interaction. Acknowledge another party. Don’t broadcast. Engage!”

Enjoy the party Smile If I’ve missed your favourite newbie tip, please leave your advice below…

Web Favourites Jun 3 2010

June This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly an occasional roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

Twitter for Law Firms – “Law firms, unfortunately, are doing a lousy job with Twitter, every day, in growing numbers. I’ve reviewed dozens of law firm Twitter accounts, some owned by global giants and some by midsize or smaller operations, and in almost every instance I’ve come away shaking my head… A good law firm Twitter feed keeps two things in mind: (1) it’s all about the clients, and (2) it’s not all about the firm”

How to Measure the Success of Your Intranet – Intranet guru Gerry McGovern on quantifying the value of your intranet: “Focus on service. Focus on your employees’ time. Be relentless in seeking to save it. If you do you will create a great intranet. It’s as simple and as difficult as that”. Sounds like the recipe for any successful business actually.

Survey: Tesco and Marks & Spencer fail to lure legal shoppers – interesting slant in this article, and it’s headline. Read deeper and you’ll see it say “34% [of respondents] were not tempted by the big names [brands] at all”. To my mind, that’s 66% of clients who could potentially be lured away – and that’s before any of those brands has even launched or begun marketing. Mmmm.