Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Make Your Presentations More Tweetable

May 3, 2012 2 comments

A few weeks ago, I wrote an entry for speakers about analyzing their tweets to improve future presentations. Since then, I’ve had a few people ask “how do you get people to tweet about you in the first place?” That’s an excellent question.

Whenever I attend a session, I’m always looking for something tweetworthy because it’s a great opportunity to share valuable or interesting information with my followers. A few years ago, watching your audience hunker over their device probably meant you’ve lost them and they’d rather check email or play solitaire (bad). These days, it might mean they’re especially engaged and are hurriedly trying to tweet you (good).twitter bird

Some speakers may care less about being tweeted, which is perfectly fine. This post is for those that would like to be more twitter-friendly for the audience. Here are a few tips:

1. Speak in Plain Language

If you’re the type of speaker that likes to wax poetic with ornate balladry, your audience will swoon at your brilliance, but you won’t get many tweets. I had college professors who lectured as if reciting Shakespearean metrical compositions, but I can’t remember a single lesson and half my notes ended with …

Get straight to the point with plain language and leave the superfluous adjectives at home.

2. Prepare Sound Bites

The best tweets from presentations are prepared, short sound bites. No need for the audience to paraphrase and possibly misinterpret; if it’s short enough, it will be tweeted verbatim. Less is definitely more when it comes to tweetable sound bites.

3. Repeat Important Takeaways

Nothing conveys importance like repetition. I repeat, nothing conveys importance like repetition. If your audience missed it the first time, they sure won’t miss it the second. Say it moderately slow, keep it relatively short, and say it verbatim. If you want your audience to tweet a point, it’s worth saying twice.

4. Put Important Takeaways on a Slide

Make it even easier by showing the important sound bite in plain language on a slide as you repeat it twice. Some people are much more visual than auditory. If they see it prominently displayed (large font, stand-alone, and plenty of negative space), their natural tendency is to write/type it down.

5. Give Audience a “Break”

It’s good to let your audience catch-up if they’ve been frantically clacking away. The best kind of “break” is not silent reflection; it’s okay to pause, but go longer than two seconds and it gets uncomfortable. The best break is to talk about something less important, such as an example, anecdote or funny story. Whenever I hear a speaker follow an important point with “let me tell you a quick story” or “recently, I read this article,” I breathe a sigh of relief because I know I can keep typing in the tweet without missing the next important point.

6. Use Lists, Numbers, or Quotes

These three tactics work especially well on slides. Whenever people see an organized list, numbers/statistics, or an insightful/humorous/thought-provoking quote, they tend to jot it down.

If you’re presenting a list of items, start with the whole list first and give people time to write them down. So many times speakers will just dive right in and minutes later, I’ll hear “the third reason why such and such” and I’ll wonder whatever happened to the first two. After running through the items on your list, it’s a good idea to show the list on a single slide again.

As for numbers, a speaker is 74% more likely to get positive reviews if he/she uses statistics. Actually, I just made that number up. But it caught your attention. It’s always good to pull in statistics to exemplify your point. If I say “it’s astounding how many IT projects fail,” I might get a reaction. But if I say “68% of IT projects fail according to a survey from IAG Consulting,” my point is strengthened so much more. However, be judicious with your stats and always reference the source.

Quotes are another great way of illustrating a point. Especially when it’s on a slide, people are likely to write it down or tweet it if it’s not too long. Make sure it’s from someone with authority on the subject. Quoting others also strengthens your point because it shows your idea is aligned with an expert in the industry.
Keep these tips in mind when preparing for your next presentation. Getting tweeted by the audience is great for increasing your reputation and brand. It establishes you as an authority on the subject and increases your following. Help yourself by helping your audience promote your presentation.


Use Twitter to Improve Your Next Presentation

March 8, 2012 1 comment

Thanks to Twitter, conferences are more social and open. A few years ago, if your audience is looking down at their mobile device, it probably meant that you lost them and they were checking email. These days, audience members clacking on their devices might mean they’re tweeting something meaningful that you said. Tweets from the audience benefit in at least four ways:

  • memorializes the important points from your presentation
  • expands your reach to folks that aren’t in attendance
  • promotes you as an authority on the subject
  • builds a relationship with the audience

Picture of a speaker

As a presenter, these benefitscome without any effort on your part. But why rest on your laurels, letting the tweets to fall to the ground? Analyzing your presentation tweets can help you improve and fine-tune your material for future opportunities.Here are five ways to use Twitter to improve future presentations.

1. What was tweeted/retweeted the most?

Which part of the presentation got the most tweets and retweets? These were the nuggets that came out of your presentation. This might not be what you thought was the most valuable, but that’s what the audience thought, which is what matters most. Review these tweets and see if they match what you thought were the most important quotes. If there’s a disconnect, fine-tune your presentation to make your nuggets more tweetable.

2. Where are the gaps?

Most likely, not everything you say will be valuable to your audience. There will be periods where no one is tweeting. Since tweets are time-stamped, you can estimate the lulls and figure out what you were saying during the long pauses. This doesn’t necessarily mean the material was boring or unimpressive. It could also mean that you were speaking too fast or tried to say too much at one time. There have been many times when I, as an audience member, tried to tweet something, but lost my thought halfway through because the speaker already moved on. When that happens, that’s a lost opportunity for the speaker.

3. Are people paraphrasing too much?

One of the drawbacks of twitter is that you have no control over what your audience is tweeting.  Sometimes, if you’re point is not clear and concise, your audience can begin the tweet with your words but end with their own. Of course, the audience is not purposely trying to twist your words, but if you speak too fast or have too many thoughts at one time, the audience might accidentally misinterpret or misuse your words. If there are many paraphrased tweets, you might want to chunk up your ideas or simplify the language the next time you present.

4.  Do you encourage your audience to connect with you?

Most likely, your audience will have questions. Many times, only a few are asked because 1) some people are too shy to ask in front of a crowd, 2) the questions don’t come until they digest the material later, or 3) you take too much time answering a question that people are afraid to ask another.

Remind your audience during the presentation to contact you if there’s a question. If you know your audience, you know which topics will generate the most questions. The interaction doesn’t have to be limited to the time in the conference room. Encourage them to engage with you after the conference and give you feedback on what was most/least helpful to them.

5. Is your presentation available online?

The most common question is probably: “can I get a copy of your presentation.” Why not put it online ahead of time and  announce the URL during your presentation? Once it’s online, you get the web traffic analytics, allow comments, enable sharing, and you have a web presence for your presentation to live on in perpetuity. Have a coworker or friend tweet it while you’re speaking.

Twitter is an integral part of trainings, conferences and educational events. If you are a speaker, don’t waste the opportunity to review the tweets about your presentation to improve for future opportunities.

The Most Important Change in Twitter’s Redesign

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, Twitter redesigned its homepage, going from


One of the biggest elements they removed was Trending Topics. This was a feature that was front and center in Twitter’s second redesign, showing what was popular by the minute, day or week. Then in the third redesign, Trending Topics shrunk to a small, unobtrusive line. Now in the fourth iteration, it’s gone.

Thank goodness.

Removing the trending topics from the Twitter homepage is a great move because sometimes there are inappropriate or goofy topics that would deduct serious integrity points, tarnishing the site’s reputation as a valuable communication tool.

Hashtags like #itsnotcheating or #imsinglebecause would dominate trending topics, not because this was the most important thing happening on Twitter, but because a small community of Twitter users had way too much to say about it.

For the record, I have no problem with trending topics. I use them to keep track of the relevant topics going on in the world. The difference is I know the distinction between an important event unfolding in real time and a demographic flooding their playful banter onto the social network.

However, if you’re trying to convince your executive sponsors that Twitter would add value to your agency, you won’t be doing yourself a favor by pulling up and showing #yallneedtobreakup#sincewebeinghonest, or #youlookedgooduntil as the most talked about topics on the site.

So now when you visit, you see a background image of the world, implying its importance on a global scale (deservedly so, especially with recent events in Egypt, Libya, Japan, and Pakistan). The tagline is “Follow your interests”, showing the customization of its real time feed according to the topics you care about. For the first time since the original homepage, it brings back a personal feel by mentioning your friends and favorite celebrities, moving away from “see what people are saying” or “discover what’s happening” type of impersonal message.

As a result, I think the homepage is much more presentable to my executive management and with other stakeholders contemplating its use as an official government communication tool.

Categories: Twitter Tags: , , ,

#DonationFAIL! Why Bing Got Blasted and What Gov Can Learn

March 24, 2011 2 comments

In the wake of the recent disasters in Japan, many organizations used Twitter to raise donations for the relief effort overseas. However, Microsoft’s Bing pledged $100,000 and received a lot of criticism for their generous pledge.

On March 12, Bing tweeted “How can you #SupportJapan? For every retweet, @bing will give $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100K.”

Some may think it’s a clever way to engage users and make pledging more interactive. But Bing also received backlash from people accusing them of exploiting the tragedy to market itself and hijacking the #SupportJapan hashtag.

How so? Every time you retweet their message, you are mentioning Microsoft’s brand, promoting and expanding their reach to your followers, who might retweet to their followers, and on and on. If they  wanted to donate the money, then just donate the money. By turning this into a modern day digital bite-sized email chain letter (remember those?), they came across as opportunistic and self-promoting during a time of tragedy.

Furthermore, users who search the #SupportJapan hashtag hoping to get real-time updates on the disastrous situation will get intermittent tweets of Bing’s donation solicitation; not exactly what information-starved people are looking to consume.

Microsoft quickly apologized, but the damage was done.


What can government learn from this PR debacle?

1)      It’s not all about you

Nobody likes shameless promoters, people who focus too much on pushing their brand across.

This is a simple lesson that might not be easy to grasp. From our insider’s perspective, we’re just trying to figure out ways to make our information relevant and useful in the social media universe. And especially for agencies starting out on Twitter, they’ll have to push their names out just to build up their follower base.

But put yourself in the shoes of a recipient. Would you rather see an Education Agency tweet about all the activities they’re doing to improve school systems, or would you rather see “check out my homepage. Follow us here.”

The lesson is not “don’t talk about yourself,” but “don’t put yourself above the important services you provide.”


2)      Social media can be abused, so learn the proper etiquette

I’m sure Microsoft had good intentions and wasn’t trying to be opportunistic like Kenneth Cole was, but users are smart and can sniff out the perception of a hidden agenda.

Learn the culture and etiquette, which isn’t easy either, since it keeps evolving. I did a generic search for “Twitter etiquette” and the top responses weren’t completely up to date. But the more you participate and follow the influencers on Twitter, the more you naturally learn the rules of engagement.

It’s not likely that most agencies will experience the kind of backlash that Microsoft experienced, but it’s still good to keep in mind the lessons we can learn from other peoples’ failures.


Cory Booker is a Hero, but Could He Have Done More?

December 30, 2010 2 comments

Cory Booker (@corybooker), the mayor of Newark, NJ made headlines recently with his heroic efforts to rescue residents from Snowpocalypse one tweet at a time. Whether its delivery diapers, shoveling entryways, or sending snowplows, he stepped out of bureaucracy to come across as a real, caring human being anxious to aid during a time of crisis. With over 1 million followers, his personal and humble approach touched not only those he helped, but everyone who read his updates.

As I read articles praising his use of social media, there is a side of me that can’t help but think why didn’t he do more with Twitter? Not more in the sense of a kid getting upset for only getting 99 train tracks for Christmas instead of 100 … but more as in why he didn’t take advantage of the golden resource at his fingertips?

Cory Booker, like you and me, is just one man that can only be in one place at one time.

But Cory Booker, unlike you and me, has over one million followers on Twitter.

Delivering food to one house makes for a great PR story, but there are thousands in the same situation. With so many followers, he could have mobilized an army of volunteers. Get a message out and have people organize a coordinated effort; don’t just try to take it on by yourself.

To be fair, he did mention dozens of trucks and hundreds of workers, and he did reference volunteers, and he did encourage people to help…but what if he used his 1 million followers, plus the power of the retweet, to organize a network where people can practically and systematically help those around them?

Imagine what could have happened with city employees working alongside local (and very likely non-local) residents, all made possible because of Twitter?

Again, what Cory Booker accomplished was without a doubt, amazing. His use of Twitter was groundbreaking and a big win for Government 2.0. But imagine how powerful Twitter could be in these situations if it’s used to rally an entire community.

That’s one of the core principles of Web 2.0, isn’t it? One person can do a lot, but a community can do so much more?

Attorney General Sentenced to Prison?

June 24, 2010 1 comment

I couldn’t believe it when this tweet popped up today:

Tweet says Attorney General Abram Harker Jeffs Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Assault of Child

Was Texas Attorney General Jeffs sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting a child? Wait a minute… The Attorney General for Texas is Greg Abbott, not Abram Harker Jeffs. So, what’s going on here?

If you look at the other tweets from, the Official State of Texas website, you’ll notice that most tweets begin with the agency, followed by a headline and link. Basically, the Twitter account for is a repository of news from agencies across the State. For example, you’ll see [Water Development] [headline] [link], which seems harmless in most cases. But unfortunately, you might end up with a big oops like what was tweeted today.

My point is not to bash Texas for making a mistake but to stress the importance of injecting quality control into social media activities.

Despite the numerous gaffes and blunders that public figures and entities have made over the years, social media is still generally seen as a valuable tool to improve communication and collaboration, at least for the time being. Government should keep working hard to ensure its social media activities stay in a positive light, taking the time to manage its content to avoid putting its foot in its mouth.

Or in this case, putting its elected official behind bars.

UPDATE: has been notified and has since inserted a colon after Attorney General to clarify its tweet. All is well again.

Is “Follow Me On Twitter” Bad For Twitter?

March 17, 2010 1 comment

Ahh…South by Southwest Interactive… a time for web trends and developments, creative advice from industry leaders, and of course, fresh networking meat on Twitter. Which, of course, undoubtedly leads to the shameless promotion of folks who take the “Follow me on Twitter” slogan a bit too seriously.

At the first session, I sat behind a dude that stitched his Twitter handle to the back of his shirt. During the Q&A of the same session, the second guy mentioned his handle before asking a question. And there are plenty of folks who handwrote their @s onto their badges. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but sometimes it gives the impression that you only care about adding followers.

Twitter is not about building your following; Twitter is about building relationships.

And if you’ve been actively using Twitter, you already knew that. But, unfortunately, shifting gears here, a good number of government entities on Twitter don’t seem to agree. I’ve heard plenty of agencies promote their sites and boast about how many followers they have, but rarely do they talk about how they’ve added value directly to their followers. In my opinion, there’s a disconnect when Gov uses buzzwords like communication, collaboration, and engagement, yet ignore the ability to use Twitter as a two way street to put these buzzwords to practice.

Twitter is not a one way street. Twitter is not an RSS feed.

People are always struggling to find information, confused about why they need to contact Department A for a fishing license and Department F for a different license to tow their boat. Or why they need to call the Railroad Commission about natural gas. Or why the number to call on the Department of Insurance’s website goes to somebody at DMV. Government is a complex network of systems and activities that is difficult to navigate, and a little help can go a long way to making somebody’s day.

Don’t just look to add followers to consume your message. Look to add value by responding to inquiries.

Categories: Twitter Tags: , , , ,