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Bizarre Ways to Use Twitter

Most people use Twitter to follow the news, stay in touch with friends and stalk celebrities.

Brands, meanwhile, use Twitter to engage their followers by sharing interesting content.

That’s all well and good. But there’s so much more you could be doing with Twitter. As Nancy Reagan once said, “There’s a big, wonderful world out there for you.” Don’t miss out.

Here’s what you could be doing on Twitter…

Get to the Front of the Queue

When Christi Tasker’s flight from Chicago to London got severely delayed, all the passengers around her started making phone calls to book a new flight. Not many of the were getting far.

Christi, instead of making a call, turned to Twitter. Christi explains:

Ann, American Airlines’s sweet Twitter customer service agent was remarkably helpful. If only I could say the same for the airline attendant who was yelling at passengers… Fortunately, Twitter paid off there, too. When I showed the flight attendant the tweet advising me to move to the front of the plane so that we could deplane sooner, the flight attendant declined. I told Ann, who then suggested I show the attendant the request again. Then she complied.

This won’t work with every company – it depends on how much they’re using Twitter for customer services. But increasingly, it is a way to get fast results.

More and more consumers are turning to social media to complain, and they expect a fast response. Recent research found that 42% of customers expect a response to their social media complaint within one hour. Businesses are aware of this trend – and of the public nature of social media – so many of them are upping their game.

Learn How to Write Concisely

Concise writing is a vital skill in the digital age. If you can’t grab attention and make an impact with just a few words, your readers will go elsewhere.

Tweets are always 140 characters or less. When writing tweets, you’re forced to sift out the chaff and focus on what matters. That’s excellent practice for all types of online writing.

Want to see for yourself exactly how much punch you can pack into 140 characters? Check out the winners of Copyblogger’s Twitter Writing Contest. Also take a look at these attempts at Twitter fiction by some famous writers.

Talking of concise writing, @cookbook shares recipes in 140 characters. Why not follow @cookbook to learn how to cook and how to communicate big ideas in as few words as possible?

Find a New Job

Did you know that more than half of jobs are never publicly advertised? They’re in the hidden jobs market. The best way to find these jobs is through networking.

The key is to network with people inside companies you’d like to work for. Twitter makes this easier than ever before.

Forbes writer Susan Adams explains what to do when you’ve found people to follow in your target companies:

Once you’ve built up a good roster of people to follow, start retweeting (forwarding) intriguing tweets by those people. You can also write notes to them, using the “@” symbol and their Twitter handle. This is a good way to build relationships.

Test and Refine Your Blog Post Ideas

Writing a blog post takes a ton of time and effort. So when you write something that fails to connect with your audience, it’s a double downer. First, because it hurts to be ignored. And second, because of all the time and creative energy you wasted.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can test blog post ideas before you write them up. You’ll find out which ideas resonate with your audience, so you can focus your creative output on those.

Growth hacker and entrepreneur Andrew Chen explains how he does this:

Recently I’ve been running an experiment:

  1. Tweet an insight, idea, or quote
  2. See how many people retweet it
  3. If it catches, then write a blog post elaborating on the topic

Next time you’re short on ideas, why not test a few with your audience, and see which take off?

Write a Book

Thousands of people have used Twitter as a way of writing and publishing the novel that we all have inside. Perhaps unsurprisingly, few of them have garnered much traction.

Far better to use Twitter to get ideas and insight while you’re writing a book.

Author Don Miller suggests four ways to use Twitter to help with book writing:

  1. Tweet a chapter idea and ask if anybody has given the idea any thought. If you hear crickets, skip that chapter.
  2. Got a powerful one-liner? Tweet it and see if it gets re-tweeted. You might turn that one-liner into a complete paragraph or more.
  3. Stuck on an idea? Tweet and ask anybody if they’ve read an interesting article about it. Twitter is a great resource tool.
  4. Use Twitter to summarize an idea. The great thing about 140 characters is it makes you condense your thinking, which is often the essence of good writing.

Network at Conferences

We’ve previously covered how you can use Twitter to sneak into conferences. It looks like a lot of fun – we recommend it!

But you can also use Twitter when you’re attending conferences, as a networking tool. Follow the conference hashtag, and see who’s tweeting about the conference. If you see someone interesting, send them a tweet and ask if they’d like to meet for coffee. It’s a really easy way to expand your circle of contacts.

Wandering Off Topic


We all want to be seen as experts. So we end up believing we need to find our niche. We tell ourselves we need to focus on “one thing”, one service, one topic.

Yet hitting a single note over and over can make your website… boring.

And no matter how talented you are at creating content, you will eventually run out of ideas.

Going “off topic” while staying true to your brand can be a very effective strategy.

Rats, Boobs and Labour Unions

Here are 3 examples of people writing “off topic” while staying very much “on brand”:

Why You Should Veer Off-Topic

Going off topic adds heart to your brand. If you have a brand centred around you (ie: a personality brand), then focusing on other topics helps people connect with you.

You want to inspire people to see you as a friend, not just someone who is an expert on one thing. You are a three dimensional human being, not a collection of facts and expertise. People will connect to your heart, so it’s good to share with them what you care about.

It’s a great way of bringing people over who have no immediate need for your product. People connect to each other for the strangest reasons. Focusing on something you are passionate about gives people the opportunity to say “me too!” and instantly want to join your orbit. It’s up to you then to make sure they stay in your orbit afterwards, by providing super useful content.

Taking the example of Paul Jarvis: rat lovers will likely stumble upon his article and join his mailing list long before they have a need for web design.

Off Topic But On Brand

You don’t have to stay “on topic” all the time if you stay true to your brand. Your brand is bigger than one product or one service. If you get clear on your brand’s values, you can approach almost any topic and make it yours.

Danielle LaPorte focuses on entrepreneurship and spirituality, but “holistic” is a core value of her brand, and so a holistic take on beauty tips fits in perfectly.

Another approach is to focus on a topic you care about and tie your message at the end. In Paul Jarvis’ example, he started off writing about his rats, then he finished his post in a marketing lesson.

Going “off topic” every now and then might feel risky at first, but chances are your fans will care about the things you care about.

And you might even make some new ones…

Chasing Viral When others zig, you zag.


Do you lie awake at night wondering how you could make your website more… viral?

OK, so maybe you don’t actually lie awake at night. But you do think about it. If only you could come up with a gimmick to make your content viral, then all your problems would be solved. Right?

Chances are you are subconsciously comparing your website to Upworthy and Buzzfeed.

Or, to put it more bluntly, you’re chasing rainbows.

The business model of Upworthy and Buzzfeed is all about producing content that goes viral. That’s how they make money. But unlike them, your business is there to sell goods and services. Your goal is to turn customers into fans, by delivering awesome products or services.

Your social media and marketing strategy need to reflect your goal: to serve people. That is how you make money and change the world, not through creating entertainment.

It’s better to have 100 devoted fans who can’t wait to buy your products, than 10,000 likes on Facebook that never lead to actual sales.

Some people are great at producing viral content… but they fail on the “sales” part. They build popular websites that they can’t monetise. And it’s only a matter of time before the whole venture comes crashing down.

Here’s 3 things to keep in mind to make sure that focusing on “viral content” doesn’t backfire.

1. Viral Content Doesn’t Play Tricks

Focusing on “viral” can be a dangerous strategy.

You read somewhere that a certain headline is “catchy” and so you use it on one of your blog posts. People click on that headline because it promises them something awesome. Only, the content of the blog post itself fails to deliver…

That’s called bait and switch, and it’s a big no-no.

The person who clicked your “bait” will no longer trust you, and they will leave your website with a sense of having been tricked.

If people don’t trust you, they sure as the sky is blue won’t buy from you.

2. Pressure to go Viral Creates Anxiety

And anxiety blocks creativity.

Go into the creative process with the thought “this must go viral”, and you’ll find yourself unable to create at all. Self-doubt kicks in, and you spend all your time wondering “who’s gonna care about this?”

Not a productive state of mind to be in.

Remember, you are in business to create and sell products and services. Anything that puts a dampener on your ability to create, will jeopardise your business’ success.

3. Your Customers Can “Smell” Desperation

When you create something while thinking “this needs to go viral”, you create from desperation. And people are seriously turned off by that.

Don’t be surprised if you find that the harder you try to create viral content, the more it puts people off.

Remember, viral content is meant to serve you and your business. Not the other way around. You and your business are not meant to serve “viral content”.

A better strategy is to focus on creating an awesome product. Then bring in customers using viral content.