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Unusual Twitter Uses

We all know that Twitter can help grow your business, connect with influencers and fill your sales funnel.

But there’s way more you do on Twitter. How you can use Twitter to get ahead is only limited by your imagination.

Check out these tips to get your brain buzzing.

1. Sneak Into Conferences

Ever been to a conference where you could share your thoughts on Twitter? It’s a growing trend. Academics have latched onto this and realized they can sneak into conferences through the back door by following the conference Twitter feed.

People will usually Tweet conference highlights, so you’ll get the best stuff without spending the time or money attending.

Academic Meghan Duffy explains how she started attending conferences via Twitter:

This summer, because I was moving to Michigan, I wasn’t able to make it to either Evolution or ESA. I was, however, able to follow along with both meetings, by following tweets with the conference hashtags (#evol2012 and #esa2012). Following the tweets from Rosie Redfield’s plenary at Evolution was a particular highlight.

You can do this with business conferences too. All you need to do is find out the conference hashtag, and look out for prolific tweeters who are attending the conference.

Tip from: Meghan Duffy.

2. Ask Anything – And Get Quick Answers from Real People

Google may be the king of search, but that doesn’t mean it will always serve up the answer you need.

When it’s a real person you need help from, Twitter is ideal. Adam Zeis writes:

Twitter is also an amazing tool for getting quick answers to pretty much any questions you may have. I’ve used it for help when making a purchase (choosing between two items), getting opinions on certain topics and settling disputes with friends. Depending on the amount of followers you have, you can easily ask nearly anything and you will instantly receive an answer.

It beats out searching the web for results in many cases, and often nets you answers you wouldn’t be able to find by simply searching.

Tip from Adam Zeis.

3. Connect With Study Buddies

Need to swot up on a new topic? Twitter is a fantastic learning tool. You can find help and support from other learners who are digging into the same subject as you.

Medical student Brittany Chan explains how she began using Twitter as a study booster:

I started using Twitter as a way to waste time when I needed a break from studying. Then something crazy happened. Twitter transformed from a major distraction to a valuable study tool. I began to tweet questions to fellow med students about concepts I didn’t understand, and they responded. Other students would tweet their confusions, and I’d attempt to explain the mechanism of a drug or the purpose of the alanine cycle. Many times, several others would chime in to augment our collective understanding or ask additional questions.

Chan also uses Twitter to keep herself updated on the latest research in her field:

As a medical student and future pediatrician, I follow accounts of official medical associations, such as the AAP (@AmerAcadPeds) and AAMC (@AAMCToday), leading medical journals, including JAMA (@JAMA_current) and The Lancet (@TheLancet), as well as several different kinds of physicians who frequently tweet interesting new articles.

Tips via: Brittany Chan.

4. Discover Job Opportunities – Before They’re Advertised

We’ve written before about how Twitter is great at helping you find hidden opportunities.

You can also use Twitter to discover jobs before they’re even advertised as available. Follow the employees at a business you’d like to join, and you’ll get to see the inner workings of the company.

In an article on using Twitter for job hunting, Simon Caine explains he does this:

I found following existing employees (particularly recruitment officers) much more helpful than following the company’s Twitter account. Individuals are much more likely to respond. Plus it may help you stay one step ahead of the rest of the job market: they’ll often tweet if they’re changing jobs, which let’s you know there’s a vacancy.

I found lots of companies had a list called “staff” where you can find the employees, but you can also search by users’ bios using Google. I’d recommend following the list itself. It saves time and has the advantage that whenever a new member of staff joins the company you will get their tweets automatically (once they’ve been added to the list).

Tip via Simon Caine.

5. Find New Ways of Thinking

Twitter isn’t only great for getting your questions answered. It’s also handy if you want to challenge yourself by answering questions.

Denise Graveline explains how she finds this helpful:

Sometimes, the best way to see something anew is to be questioned about it by someone who’s genuinely curious and doesn’t know you well. My followers on Twitter ask me all sorts of questions–about my blog, about public speaking, about social media, about food and travel and playing guitar–that prompt me to think with care about what I do. It’s a great playback machine.

The free plug-in InboxQ lets you search for questions in your niche.

Tip via Denise Graveline.

Over to You

Do you use Twitter in any out-of-the-box ways? Let us know about them in the comments, below.

Helping people to discover your brand online is a bit like helping wild animals and birds discover your yard. CLICK TO TWEET

If you want to attract nature into your yard, you make it a fun place for them to be. You leave out old logs for insects to dig out a home. You put out seeds to feed the wild birds. Maybe you leave out a plate of cat food for the neighborhood hedgehog.

However you do it, the key to success is simple: the more things you do to attract nature, the more wild beasties you’ll pull in.

Such is the way of online marketing. The more little treats you leave scattered across the interwebs, the more people will become curious about what other exciting things you have for them. Then, they’ll check out you and your brand.

Blogging is the typical way of dropping these “treats” in cyberspace. Each blog post shares something useful, intriguing, entertaining or inspirational to treat your audience. What’s more, each post increases your chances of being discovered on social media or Google.

But you’ve got blogging covered, and you’re ready for the next step.

Blogging aside (and we don’t recommend you ignore blogging, unless you really don’t have the time), what other treats can you scatter across the web?

1. Make Your Customers Feel Special (Have a Seductive Website)

Think of a store on main street. Any store will do. Soak in the atmosphere and design of the store in your mind. Unless it’s a five and dime, the layout and design of the store is not just about selling products. It’s about selling the store’s identity, so customers feel like they’re being wooed and romanced into making a purchase.

Want an extreme example of what I mean? Go to an Apple Store, and browse its wonders. Not every store is so in your face with its charm and seduction techniques – others are more subtle about it – but every store uses triggers to help customers feel special.

For real world retailers, everything about their store must tempt customers into wanting to buy, from the storefront design, to the window display, to staff uniforms and how staff interact with customers.

Building your brand online, you must have the same obsessive attention to detail. Choose colors for your site to reflect your brand values. Think carefully about your graphics, fonts and logo. Does your logo translate well online, or does it need updating for the 21st century? What about the copy on your site? Every word gives your brand its voice, and this also shows your identity. Will you be chilled out and fun, or serious and formal? Either can be suitable, it depends on your brand.

Do it right, and you’ll make customers fall in love with you. CLICK TO TWEET

They’ll come to your site just to read your copy and admire your design. They’ll want to hang out there.

Your website is your face to the world, it’s where your customers and clients will get their first impressions of your business, so make sure it’s up to scratch.

Does visiting your website fill you with excitement? Does it feel like a treat? If you don’t even enjoy it, it’s time to work with a designer, or if you’re on a budget, check out some free WordPress themes.

3 Steps How to Build & Market a Website Infographic - An Infographic from

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2. Get Your Camera Out (And Shoot a Video)

What do you do when you want to kick back and forget about the troubles of the world? If you’re anything like me, you collapse on the couch and switch on the TV.

We love the TV because it’s easy to absorb. It does a lot of the thinking for us. You don’t have to focus to take it in, you just have to watch. What’s more, everything on TV, from commercials to dramas to documentaries, uses story structure, which has been our favorite way to communicate since we lived in caves and ate roast mammoth for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Within the next couple of years, 90% of web traffic will be from video. CLICK TO TWEET

That’s not my prediction. It’s what Cisco expects, and they know what they’re talking about.

Cameras are built into everything nowadays. If you’ve got a typical smartphone, you’ve got two cameras in your pocket. Plus another one on your laptop. Shooting videos has never been easier. Tools like Hangouts on Air and Twitter Vine have made video creation a breeze.

When you make videos, be professional, have high production values, but remember you don’t have to match the quality of CNN, just like blog posts don’t have to be publishable in the New York Times.

Most important of all, be authentic, and share something useful with your customers.

Videos treat your customers with a story. And people gravitate to stories like mice to cheese. It’s just our nature. We can’t help but be pulled in.

3. Be Up Close and Personal (Start an Email List)

Want to treat your customers in a way that warms their hearts? Write emails to them. CLICK TO TWEET

Email is the most popular activity on the Internet. It’s also one of the most time consuming, being the place where people spend nearly 20% of their broadband hours.

Email, like radio, is a personal communication tool, even when it goes out to a group. When you listen to the radio, you feel like you’re in the same room as the radio presenter. Dedicated radio listeners feel as though they are close friends with their favorite presenters, even though they’ve never met them or had a conversation with them.

The same is true of email. If you’re given the privilege of access to someone’s inbox, you’ve got the opportunity to build a personal relationship with them. As they get to know you through email, they’ll feel like you’re a trusted friend.

An email inbox is a personal space. When someone gives you their email address, and asks you to keep them updated, they’re inviting you into their lair, a space they are usually fiercely protective of. If you’re invited in, make the most of it. Don’t exploit the opportunity to make a quick sale. You’ll get thrown out if you do that. Instead, be fun to hang out with, have a laugh, and occasionally mention that you have a few things for sale. Building the relationship always comes first.

Be the person they want to hear from, the email they look forward to and anticipate every month, every week, or even every day.

Email tips:

  • Write in a personable, upbeat style, like you’re writing to a friend.
  • Always start the email with the first name of the recipient.
  • Use short words and sentences. People scan emails like they scan blog posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to email regularly, as long as you have something to share. The more often you email, the closer the relationship.
  • Include a treat in every email – a handy hint, a useful tip, or something funny.

4. Whistle Little Songs Like a Birdie (Tweet)

Technically we’re cheating (or is that tweeting?) with this tip, because Twitter is a microblogging platform, so tweets are tiny blog posts.

But most people don’t see Twitter as a blog. They see it as, well, Twitter, so we thought we’d include it. Plus, we don’t just mean tweets. We mean updates posted to Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as well.

We know, tweeting can be frustrating, especially when you’re starting out. You send out your little messages to the world, and nothing happens. No one replies. No one retweets you. No one says anything.

Every Twitter account starts with 0 followers. We know. We’ve been there.

Which is why we say: don’t give up.

Have you got that? Keep going. Keep tweeting, even when everyone’s ignoring you. Especially when everyone’s ignoring you.

The point with tweets is that they’re disposable treats. Most of the time, nothing will seem to happen (though actually you’ll be showing up in the feeds of your followers, which boosts your visibility). However, once in a while, your tweets will get picked up, spread across the Internet. Sometimes they’ll go viral.

Each tweet is a micro treat for your followers and fans. It’s difficult to know what your customers will find tasty, and what they’ll ignore, but the more you tweet, the more you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Plus, the more you use social media, the faster you’ll grow an audience.

What should you do with tweets (and all social media updates)?

  • Share useful stuff. Put up links to videos, articles and blog posts your customers will find helpful or entertaining.
  • Stay on topic. Choose a niche, and stick with it. You may be fascinated by the migrating habits of wildebeest, but if your business is coding iPhone apps, then keep the wildebeests to yourself (unless you’re making an app about them, of course).
  • Ask questions. This shows you’re willing to engage, and pulls people in to the conversation.
  • Schedule your updates. Unless you’re a superhero, you can’t be online 24/7. But your followers will be. Scheduling saves you time, and means you get to leave a bigger trail of treats behind. Win for you, and win for your customers.

Twitter Cheat Sheet

5. Retweet Your Customers

Tweets are an easy way to give your customers tiny tidbits to keep them interested. But what if you really want to get the attention of a customer or potential customer in a big way?

The answer is to give them a big treat. Retweet them.

We just looked at how frustrating Twitter is when everyone’s ignoring you. On the other hand, when someone retweets you, it feels great doesn’t it? Finally, someone out there is listening. Finally, someone cares!

You can give anyone that wonderful feeling by retweeting them.

Of course, if they’ve got thousands of followers, and everything they share gets retweeted over and over again, then it’ll take a few retweets on your part before they start to notice you.

Also, you should only retweet things your followers will find interesting or valuable.

6. Go out there and Have a Conversation (Be Interviewed)

Stories are powerful, and videos are one way of telling a story.

Another way is through dialogue. Have you ever skimmed through a novel? Chances are, you ignored all the heavy, boring description and went straight for the juicy parts: the dialogue.

Why do we love listening in on conversations so much? My theory is that when someone talks, we assume we’re hearing their real voice. We’re getting an insight into the real them. And we’re all innately curious about other people.

By seeing how others handle problems we face, by finding out the solutions they really use, it helps us approach our own problems in a new way.

How can you join the conversation? You can take the plunge head first on social media. Even better is to go out there and be interviewed. Let bloggers in your niche know you’re on an interview tour. Give them a reason to interview you and something to interview you about – perhaps a successful project you’ve completed, or a new business idea you’re sharing with the world.

Being interviewed is way more fun than writing blog posts. What’s more, you’ll build valuable connections, you’ll discover more ideas inside yourself than you thought you had, and you’ll get your name out there in front of new audiences.

Unsure of going on camera? Worried about the time it will take? Interviews are often conducted by email nowadays, so it’s quick and easy. If you prefer to be interviewed by email, just let people know when you’re arranging your interview tour. However, you’ll create stronger connections if you do video or audio interviews.

7. Inspire Dreams (Hold a Contest)

Everyone loves a flutter or a gamble from time to time, especially if entry is free. Holding a contest lets you give your customers the thrill of competing for a big prize without the risk of a hefty entry fee.

Offer one of your own products or services as the prize, and it inspires every person who enters to imagine how much better their lives would be if they had your product.

The treat in the contest is the chance of winning.

What’s more, you win too, because everyone who enters the contest engages with your brand.

8. Make Your Business Card Something to Keep (And Add Your Social Media Details)

Are you an avid networker? Or do you just mingle occasionally? Either way, you’ll know the importance of business cards on the networking scene. You’ll also know how uninspiring most business cards are.

It’s a bit like any marketing tool.

Having a business card – even a boring one – is much better than nothing. CLICK TO TWEET

But if you really want to leave an impression, then make your business card something special. Have a whole set of individualized cards, printed on luxury paper, with a font that reflects your brands.

When you hand out your business card, you want people to think “Wow, I want to keep this!”, not “Where’s the nearest trash can?” You want them to keep your card just because they enjoy owning it.

Other ideas you can use:

  • Create a set of business cards with your favorite inspiring quotes on one side, and your contact details on the other.
  • Put testimonials for your business on your cards.
  • Include your social media contact details – at minimum your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Keep it simple. Do clients actually visit your business address? Does anyone ever call you? If you do everything online, then leave the rest out.

9. Invite People To Hang Out With You (Be Attentive)

You know what people want more than anything else? If you give no other treats, give this one, and you’re almost guaranteed success.

People want to know they matter.

How can you show that they matter? By paying attention.

Give people the most valuable thing you have – your time and attention. CLICK TO TWEET

You can meet face to face if you like, but online you can hook up with lots of people at once, all from the comfort of your office (or couch, if you’re really lazy).

You can hang out with people by:

  • Hosting a Twitter chat
  • Organizing a Google Hangout
  • Replying on Twitter and Facebook when people engage with you.

If you’re organizing an online event, such as a chat or hangout, prepare in advance, just like you would for a real world event. Have questions you’ll answer, or a set of tips you’ll give. Sure, you’ll need to improvise too, but having something ready gives it the professional touch.

Want to make this extra powerful? Limit the time you spend with people. By making yourself a scarce resource (which you are, you only have 24 hours a day), the time you spend with people becomes even more special, for you and them.

10. Share Eye Candy (Do some Visual Marketing)

The last 2-3 years has seen the rise of visual marketing. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr have become massively popular by building their platform around sharing images. Facebook and Twitter joined the image party a little late, but they’re quickly catching up.

Why do images work so well for getting attention? A picture says a thousand words. Like videos, images are easy to digest. We take in information much more quickly when we see it than when we have to digest words.

Images can be made even more powerful by including some text, or other data. This is why infographics are so popular – they’re easy on the eye, and they’re informative. They teach us something new, and it hardly feels like we’re learning.

Get out there and make something beautiful! You don’t even need a camera. There are millions of free creative commons images you can use on Flickr.

11. The Secret Hidden Within All These Tips (Ooze Charm)

You know how to succeed in the real world? It’s not rocket science. Be the kind of person people want to hang out with.


Look your customers in the eye.

Be likeable, fun to be around, yet mysterious. Be a people person. Help people as much as you can.

Finding success online is much the same. Sure, you can’t look people in the eye. But you can smile on camera. You can listen to people, help them, and have lots of fun in the process.

When you’re that kind of person, whatever you do online, you’ll automatically draw people to you.

Related Reading

16 Types of Videos You Can Create
The Future of Ink

39 Most Tantalizing Business Cards

4 Best Practices for Finding Facebook and Blog Images
Socially Stacked

How to Build a First-Class Email List in 30 Days — From Scratch

Truth Will Out – Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business

For More Tips + Tricks

What are your non-blogging tips and tricks?

How do you build your brand online besides blogging? What treats do you sprinkle around the Internet for people to find? What works best for you? What have you found doesn’t work well?

Share your experiences and ideas in the comments.


Like this? You can find more social media tips and tricks in the Social Caffeine Collection, a collection of 24 books on social media marketing.

Free Social Media Tools

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Best Practices

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