Posted by Guest Contributor on Wed, Aug 03 2011

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Twitter tips from Liz. Just in time for Sibos

Guest contributor Liz Lumley, special projects editor for Finextra and Twitter devotee, offers some sound advice to anyone thinking of using Twitter around Sibos this year.

I took part in a webcast a couple of weeks ago looking at how to best use social media channels at large events, such as Sibos (coming up next month, folks!)

Cognito Analytics, which sponsored the webcast, organised the panel which included, Jennifer Maitland marketing operations manager at Caplin, Peter Vander Auwera, innovation leader at Swift and Tom Coombes, CEO at Cognito.

During the discussion, Jen Maitland offered up some rather useful advice on how to use Linkedin as a marketing tool. I have to admit, it gave me something to think about (Linkedin is my least favourite of all the social media tools I use regularly).

I, on the other hand, just wittered on about how much I like Twitter for an hour. That is why I thought I would put down in this blog some 'Twitter tips from Liz' – just in time for Sibos.

First a disclaimer: I don't have any fancy metrics or proof of ROI. I don't work in sales or marketing, I'm really just a punter. However, the following is what I feel works for me and how to get my attention via social media at Sibos. Also, I apologise, some of the advice is a bit basic for social media veterans - but I think we are seeing a bit of an 'us' & 'them' appearing with social media tools. So, if you were ever afraid of asking 'what is a hashtag?' - this blog is for you)

Always embrace any tool that makes it easier to communicate

Last year I wrote that Sibos was the ultimate Tweetup – not lessening delegates presence at the event, but instead enhancing it. From the first smoke signal to the printing press to html – the evolution of human civilization has been benchmarked by enhancements in the ability to communicate with other humans who may not live, work, or breathe in your immediate vicinity.

Twitter makes it very easy to communicate with large groups of people – and at a large event such as Sibos – anything that makes connecting and communicating easier is good. Nothing more complicated than that.

It's all about Twitter (for now)

Sometimes discussions about social media focus too much on consumer products ('Google + is really for super-geeks', 'I don't have a lot to say on Twitter', 'I protect all my pics on Facebook etc...) and not enough on the socialisation of communication in general. However, for 2011 at least, at large events there is only one social media tool you need – and that is Twitter.

Twitter is simple (140 characters), it's mobile (it can run on anyone's phone – I'm looking at you Google +) and it's a customisable, dynamic chat room.

For social media virgins who ask 'what can Twitter do for me?' – just start using it at an event. If you're shy and just want to see what delegates are talking about – follow the hashtag (more on that later) and listen to the stream. If you're the type who likes to discuss presentations and panellists with your fellow delegates, follow the hashtag and start having @reply conversations with them. If you're the type who likes to make snarky comments about the panellists (who would want to do that?) or if you just want to start a running real time commentary on various sessions – do it on the hashtag and you will get a response. Trust me.

For the big brand names, social media is probably mostly about broadcasting your message. About 99% of @Finextra's output on Twitter is sending out headlines. But social media for individuals is about (oh, dare I say it?) 'engagement'. It's about the conversation. If social media tools aren't leading to conversations (even if that conversation happens over a coffee with a real-life person, instead of in cyberspace) you are not using it correctly.

What's a hashtag?

For those of us who don't know what is, or how to use a hashtag – Liz is here to help. A hashtag creates a newstream on Twitter. So, the hashtag for this year's Sibos is #Sibos. Everything you Tweet with the #Sibos hashtag will appear in the Sibos stream – read the stream and find interesting people to chat to – and in turn people will find you (if you are interesting)

How can I be interesting?

Well, the way to discover whether what you are Tweeting is interesting is by getting one of three reactions – people RT you (re-post your Tweet on their stream), people reply to you (start a conversation with you – don't be shy) or people click thru to a link you are sharing, such as your blog.

Now, far be it for me to dictate what you should or shouldn't Tweet. But I have two quick tips.

Looking for RTs (re-Tweets)? Keep it short.

Now let me explain this. When a PR sends a press release to Finextra their goal it to get it in as a company announcement or as a news item – everyone agree with that? For that to happen it has to attract the attention of our editorial team.

If I re-Tweet something, on the hashtag, it becomes part of my news stream. Any journalist that is covering an event for a news organisation that RT's a Tweet is placing that item in their news of the day. Now, that doesn't mean that are 'endorsing' that Tweet, but the act of RT puts that item on what Reuters' social media editor Antony De Rosa calls the 'Ambient Wire' - where news breaks first, not in publications but on social networks. (see where I'm going with this?) You want to get a reporter's attention at a large event like Sibos? - Get on Twitter, pronto.

Didn't you say 'keep it short'?

Yes, here is another bug bear of mine. Twitter lets you post micro-blogs of 140 characters in length. Everyone knows that. However, that does not mean you have all of that 140 characters to play with. After all that #Sibos hashtag takes up six characters on its own. Nothing irritates me more than when I go to RT a cool Tweet and the simple act of RT'ing send me over the 140 limit.

The reason why it is irritating is that most people want to add a bit of commentary to the Tweet, a bit of justification on why they have chosen to RT this item. If the Tweet is too long that space is not available.

A second reason is plain, old journalistic integrity. (Remember that?) I, actually, want to ensure that I have quoted people accurately. If I have to start editing down, someone else's Tweet, there is a risk (I try not to) that I will change the initial meaning of the Tweet.

And really, the third reason is – I just find it annoying. When you're at a large event like Sibos, and I'm trying to send out a Tweet in between running to a session and finding time to go to the bathroom – I want that process to be as simple as possible.

Basically, my advice is: keep your Tweets short. Teenager-type texting abbreviations (in moderation) are your friends. The '&' symbol should be used regularly. Numbers 1,2 etc.. should be used liberally. (I've been known to Tweet 'some1' and '2day' – 'someone' and 'today') T = the; W = with; Yr = your, you're etc... . Don't be afraid to send out several Tweets, if you can't get all your thoughts in one post.

Also, always, always use a URL shortener when Tweeting links. (I'm looking at you @andrewcarrier) It just saves that precious Twitter space.

Questions get a bigger response than a statement

The lovely, and scary smart, Anna O'Brien (late of the Citi social media team @AnnaObrien) gave me this tip. She has a masters degree in metrics and analytics- don't argue with her - you'll lose. 

So instead of Tweeting 'Hey, read my great blog on #Sepa *URL-link'. Instead write 'How ready are European corporates for #Sepa migration? *URL-link-to-blog*' After all social media is about conversations and people respond to questions, not statements. 

During the webcast, Andrew Carrier, late of Swift, said that social media was first used at Sibos '09 in Hong Kong and really came into its own at Sibos '10 in Amsterdam. Peter Vander Auwera argued that the conversation about social media has 'moved on' at Sibos and the Innotribe sessions will focus instead on using and manipulating social data.

The vast number of delegates at this year's Sibos remember a working life without the internet, email or mobile phones (I do, and I'm not even 40, yet). Could you imagine your life without these things now? Social media tools are communications tools that make your working life easier - you should not ignore them. This should be the last year anyone asks me 'what is a hashtag?'

Finextra, Sibos,
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