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Starting dialogue on Twitter takes work

This week, Poked reader Bob Knotts wrote in with this question about dialogue on Twitter:

I've had little luck (OK, none) in starting a dialogue with fellow Twitterers. I comment on some of their posts and retweet (RT) others. Our material is interesting, I think. It does often draw comments on Facebook. I get the feeling that so few people actually READ tweets. I'm amazed when I read about companies that get great responses from Twitter. Any suggestions?

Twitter has a myriad of purposes for many people: Some use it for personal chats with their friends, others use it to share information or connect with like-minded strangers. We've seen companies use Twitter most effectively to promote sales, brands or as a customer service tool.

With that in mind, we tracked down your business' Twitter account and we noticed a few things you can do better.

Take the time to properly use the reply function in Twitter so they can see you're responding to them. Use the @ symbol before their username. (That's how people identify themselves, and how they know you've mentioned them, even if they don't follow you.)

Twitter can be difficult to handle if you're just using Twitter's website to see conversations. There are plenty of free third-party applications you can download like Twhirl or TweetDeck. Not only do they help track people who mention your Twitter account, but they can also track topics or conversations you might want to jump into.

Finding those conversations helps you meet people who are talking about things that are important to you. Follow them, and you'll have a base of folks with common interests -- and people who are more likely to want to engage in conversations with you.

Finally, when you are sending out tweets, make sure you're actively reaching out. Don't just push out a link -- explain what it is or ask for feedback.

There's a lot of noise on Twitter, and it gets louder the more people you follow, so it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. We find there are times that get noisier than others -- especially from late morning through afternoon, during the week.

That's also a good time to post, because the more eyes that are on, the better chance you have of someone stumbling across your tweet. This is all the more reason to make sure what you say has value.

If you're having netiquette troubles, you can find us on Twitter through our real life names, @NialaBoodhoo and @BridgetCarey. If you're old school, you can drop us a line at Poked@MiamiHerald.com.


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