Much has been made of RichmondBizSense.com head Aaron Kremer’s love letter to Twitter. It seemed to offend some fans of the service, and it definitely confused some of his peers in the local media scene. It also prompted a response in the form of an open letter from my boss Jon Newman.
While much of the discussion around the post has chided him for only dipping his toes into Twitter and then calling it worthless, I’d like to take a slightly different approach.
The following are some ways that Aaron can use Twitter to help support and promote RichmondBizSense.com without encountering everything he dislikes about the service.
RichmondBizSense.com should provide a dead-simple way for readers to tweet links to stories. Since they aren’t on Twitter already posting links to important stories that followers can retweet, they need to find a way to help guide the discussion on Twitter. By making it easy–and I mean single-click easy–for users to tweet about RBS stories, they’ll get more traffic. Each story could include a button that, when clicked, brings up twitter.com with the status field already filled out. This gives RBS the opportunity to craft a 140-character tease for a story that will drive traffic. It also lets them set their own short url, which, if they use a service like bit.ly, will let them track how many times the link was posted. All of this can be done programmatically. How does it work? Tweet a link to this article to see. If you don’t want to build your own links, there are plenty of sharing widgets that will do it for you.
The Chatter Matters
Whether Aaron realizes it or not, his web site is an example of social media. When he left Media General, he could have gone off and started a print business paper. And he might have been successful. But, he chose to use the blog format, letting readers post comments on every story. We all know that comments can be a mixed bag, but hosting discussions has proved to be a Good Thing™ for many site owners. In the halcyon days of blogging, you could count on most of the discussion about your posts to happen in the comments and trackbacks. But today, much of that discussion is happening off of our sites and on social media platforms.
If you aren’t actively monitoring Twitter, you may want to find another way to engage that off-domain discussion. One way would be to use a plugin that shows Twitter discussions about your articles in the comments section. Many active Twitter users are compulsive content generators who like having their own platform to react to the world. If I comment on my Twitter stream, I know most of my followers will see it, but when I comment on your site, I don’t know who will see it and I might not see the responses. RBS already has comments and trackbacks, and this could be a way to encourage even more discussion.
Aaron doesn’t like Twitter, but he’s not the only one over at RichmondBizSense.com. Maybe one of his reporters would take to Twitter a little better? It’s the rare business where the boss is the best twitterer, anyway. In fact, I’m not aware of any non-marketing local companies where the boss is the Twitter face of the company (feel free to prove me wrong, I’d love to follow some local magnates if they are out there). If any of his writers have an interest in or aptitude for Twitter, he should nurture that. Even if they don’t know what they are doing at first, the Twitter community is very accepting, and new users are able to catch on pretty quickly. And, hey, my own boss wrote up a nice set of instructions just yesterday that can help your reporters make the most of Twitter.
Have I missed any ways that Aaron can take advantage of Twitter without subjecting himself to the dreaded “what I had for lunch” updates or the apparent glut of marketers on Twitter?