The Poetics Of Professional Tweeting

Or, Using Twitter Effectively In Business

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Let’s assume we’re on the same page that says Twitter is good for something. Now let’s romanticize it and equate to a modern limerick; let’s make it vulgar and call it Limerick 2.0. (The number of characters bars it from Haiku status—keep all that meaning under 30 characters and that’s serious art.) What should your little poem—the professional tweeter’s poem—say to the world?

Should it be a sales pitch? An advertisement? Random thoughts on poppy seed bagels? How does a professional tweet, anyway? Are there proven methods of effective tweeting? Can we call it something else besides “tweeting?” 

Unfortunately, the answer’s probably no on the last one, unless you want to look sillier than if you just succumbed to puddy-tat (loltat) jargon in the first place. As to the nature of the tweet (one can’t exaggerate the sigh that just exited my core upon typing that last dependent clause), I pinged an elite group of cutting-edge, on the fringe, historically wild-web-west new media hip-shooters about effective professional tweeting, and not one of them had anything to say about it.

Well, there’s always Chris Richardson, formerly one of WebProNews’s own and now blogging sports at IntentionalFoul.com, with his colorful takes on everything. “Essentially,” he said, “it’s all minutiae anyway—‘I went to such and such steakhouse during Pubcon and it was the bomb. Great selection of meat.’—and so on. There’s only so much detail you can provide in 140 characters.”

One might surmise Chris hasn’t been won over from the Twitter dark side yet. He’s not alone in his skepticism. Over at Wired.com’s “Listening Post” blog, Scott Thill bemoans the lack of “penetrating insights” from the band REM’s Twitter feed before noting the un-Snoopness of Snoop Dog’s. Some PR poser, someone completely out of touch of with the bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yay-ishness of Snoop spends 140 characters telling followers to pick up a copy of the new album at their local Wal-Mart. 

Un-Snoopness of Snoop Dogg’s

Okay so we still have naysayers, but the problem with naysayers is they always point out who’s doing it wrong, which is kind of easy. Who’s doing it right? My list of elite social media contacts will have to be updated, and Chris Brogan should be on it. Brogan recently posted “50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.” While there are 50 guidelines there, themes have developed out of them (themes that are likely good personal goals as well) that can be summarized this way:


  1. Be your true, authentic self, but don’t focus on yourself or your business too much. Point to interesting field/business-related things that got your attention. (This will play better than “I’m at Starbucks.”) And ask people following you questions about their own experiences. Tweet about others’ experiences.
  2. If choosing an official company tweeter, choose more than one to fill in gaps.
  3. Follow interesting people. This is the interesting-by-association technique.
  4. Be human. Humans have relationships. Humans like interesting pictures, ideas, and humor.
  5. Be useful. Find something that helps you do something better and share it.

Valeria Maltoni, whose credentials are as long as your arm, picked up Brogan’s cue on her blog and reminds marketers, “Twitter is not another channel for pushing messages or ads. Please go back and reread this line, twice…. There is a lot you can learn about the dynamics of conversation and what people are interested in by observing and participating.”

Where one will find travel tips

Both Brogan and Maltoni refer to Whole Foods, where the rep shares community information, JetBlue, where one will find travel tips, and the Home Depot, where employee stories are told. The Huffington Post is tweeting from the Democratic National Convention—um, constantly.

What about a small business guy like you? Lexington, Ky.-based wedding photographer Shaun Ring uses his Twitter account to stay connected with other photographers, to send digital thank you notes and acknowledgments, to show his human side, and, perhaps most importantly for his romantic business of capturing romantic moments, Ring captures them in 140 characters too: “Shooting at the nail salon before heading to lunch with the girls. Don’t all great weddings start off with Panera and pedicures?”

And there’s your still life poetry, right?



Stay connected with other photographers


Chris Richardson would be angry with me if I didn’t end this column without demonstrating his acquiescence to “maybe.” Referring to the music industry’s lack of effective tweeting, he says:

“If word got out Jack Johnson was a verified tweeter, all the hippie hottie college chicks would go follow him. And if the artist uses it for even their minutiae crap, it would still give insight to their ‘world.’ and let the fan feel more ‘connected.’ So I guess the short answer is using a verified personal touch—‘hey, the show in San Francisco was bonkers tonight. Thanks for coming out. Pix coming later’—that would be recognized and appreciated. If you established that trust and took the Trent Reznor route and announced releases and free downloads before the mainstream media got word, it would be a huge hit.”

In 140 characters or less: It’s authentic relationships, not self-serving sales pitches, that build business.  


The Poetics Of Professional Tweeting
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  • http://www.shaunringphotography.com Shaun Ring

    Thanks for featuring one of my tweets!  It was your article several months ago that turned me on to the world of Twitter.  I’m still feeling my way around this place, but it’s certainly been cool and beneficial.  Thanks for putting out so much fresh, relevant info.  -SR

  • http://www.fivecentauctions.com/ sdabbs

    Sounds like just another outlet to induce people to spam.

    Spam Is Spam Is Spam: “Dear PR people: you spam me enough thru email, must you use Facebook too? Why not drop by the apartment? Let yourself in, get comfortable.

    im not sure about you people but I get enuff of it…

    and i dont think it would help my website to spam it to people.


    • Jason Lee Miller

      you didn’t read Valeria’s line about corporate messages and ads twice like she told you to, did ya? :-) Twitter spam is a pain. Good thing we’re not talking about that.

  • http://familylawlawyersflorida.com/ Marc

    but i hear rumblings that many spammers are trying stuff.  and it could be worse than spam, it could be a whole bunch of malware d*cks who target us on twitter

    and the use of tinyurl is gonna make it perfect for them.  and wait til we get more mean trolls there, then its really gonna be fun. 

  • http://wordsforhirellc.com/blog Karen Swim

    It’s funny I wrote a guest post today about a few myths surrounding social media. Many still view Twitter as a waste of time. Sadly, life is not all business. In the workplace do you only discuss company business with colleagues or do you often have  gasp "small talk" before a meeting starts, in the hallway or round the proverbial watercooler? The allure of Twitter is found in the minutiae. The minutiae is a marketer’s dream. I could rely on charts, graphs and demographic tools to get to know my market or I can hang out with them and gather the info real time. It always surprises me that people miss what appears so obvious.

  • http://tinyurl.com/Unazukin beautifulisness

    A lot of people are a lot of people . .

    shop window
    only her reflection
    disturbs the view

    Some interesting thoughts there Jason.


  • http://www.homeonlinegames.com Dirk

    Articles! ah..hum.

    We all know how  good well copywritten material is essential to creating,maintaining,refreshing our websites is, if we want to be in the forefront of search and visitor aquisition and conversion.

    So much so these days as to assemble words and phrases so way out,in order to, what we assume will hit the reader hard with  a BIG impression.

    I think Jason is an exeptionally competant author,but even himself appears to at times excel in the production of mind exploding sentences,for example;

    The first paragraph about (about is such a simple word,we all understand),yes!about Limerick and Limerick 2. Am i missing a trick here i simply dont understand.

    This one is fantastic,and i mean it in a nice way,quote"I pinged an elite group of leading edge,on the fringe,historically wid web west new media hip- shooters about effective professional tweeting" wwow! that is so bow-wow-wow-yipee-yo-yipee=ayish. Sorry Jason,maybe im just a PR poser,naysayer, No offence, just hope you can take a joke. I really do enjoy your articles.


  • http://www.fromtheabbey.com Jeff

    I use Twitter to update fellow Catholics about my Catholic business.  I have a small but steadily growing following who receive my tweets and I use the Twitter Badge on my home page as a "What’s New" frame.  Updating "What’s New" has never been easier, I am expanding the circle of readers at my website and I am following other Catholics who tweet about relevant news, issues and events.  Of course, my business and aspirations are pretty small so I don’t know how useful it would be in "big-time" business.

  • http://grasp-the-nettle.com David Hurley

    Thanks for the article, especially the blog links. Loved looking at those cheerleaders on intentionalfoul.com! Phew! Where was I… Oh yes, of course, I tweeted your post. The last comments are a helpful reminder of good tweeticet.

    I’m not sure I get what is spam and what isn’t on Twitter. I guess posting a link to your article is not spam (or is it?), but if I post a link to say that I just wrote an article "here"(link), is THAT spam? But if that is what I have just done, then why not tell people who are following me???

    So far, I have enjoyed clicking other people’s "I’ve just posted…" links to articles, blogposts and so on, even ones that are trying to convince me to click through to a sales page.

    I must admit I’m not so keen on clicking on Twitter links that take me directly to an affiliate product sales pages though. Hmm. Feels like I’m being cheated out of a bit of love and attention from the marketer I guess!!

    David H



  • http://www.1502.us Edward Han

    Have been using not too long for tweeting. It is nice to give my daily rumbling and what I am sort of doing as well as want to do for the day. This also help those friends of mine knowing what I am doing at certain point of time.

    It is starting to be like my personal assistant or organiser. It practically keeps tab of my most current activities. I enjoy using it and sometimes I may give a big shout when I encounter unhappiness.

    Best of all is that I am enjoying a quick note for the day!


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