Some of you may know my name from reading the Ning Blog, but I also run the @Ning Twitter account as part of my job as a Marketing Manager at Ning. If you and your members are posting engaging, interesting and current content on your Ning Network, chances are you want to get the word out about it — and encourage new members to join. Twitter is a simple way to push out content, and pull followers back in. If you are new to Twitter, here are four short guidelines to get you headed in the right direction.

1. Do more than broadcast
It’s easy to set up a Twitter account, and even easier to stick in an RSS feed and forget about it. The only issue with this approach? No one wants to be friends with someone who only talks and never listens or replies. Use Twitter to highlight the best of what’s on your Ning Network, but refrain from tweeting out every piece of activity. TwitterMoms, Tu Diabetes and No Depression do a great job of highlighting only the cream of the crop on their Ning Networks in addition to replying to other people and posting their content unique to Twitter.

2. Monitor what people are chatting about
One of the most useful things you can do with Twitter is monitor the conversation that’s happening online about your Ning Network. I keep a running search of all mentions of Ning going, so I can see what people are chatting about (two good programs for doing this are 1) Tweetdeck and 2) Seesmic Desktop, which actually has its own Ning Network, Team Seesmic). Once you start monitoring, you can reply, or simply get a better sense of what people are thinking and talking about.

3. Become part of the conversation
This one is obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you are caught up tweeting, searching and listening; replying to other tweets is key. If your Twitter account represents your Ning Network, reply to other tweets that cover a similar subject. MyModernMet tweets out links to content on MyModernMet, but also replies to tweets from others about design and urban lifestyle.

4. Support your members
One of the things I like to do with the @Ning account is highlight some of the amazing accomplishments of Ning Networks and celebrate the accolades Network Creators receive. You can do the same thing for your members. If one of your members tweets out an accomplishment, replying at them, or retweeting it can help get the message out about your Ning Network, while reinforcing the relationships you’ve built with your members.

From 2–3 p.m., Pacific on Thurday, Nov. 19, I’ll be hanging out on Creators and answering your questions about Twitter in the forum replies below. I’d also love to hear your advice and experiences on using Twitter to promote your Ning Network!

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When you log in to twiter, you have a PROFILE and a HOME on the top menu.

When you are logged in, http://twitter.com takes you to your HOME page. Yes, you should have a box to type, and its should be on the top of your HOME page. Anything you type is a tweet. Also on the HOME page are the messages all the people you follow have typed (their tweets). Your tweets also show up in this list.

Your profile is at http://twitter.com/yourname. Your PROFILE shows everything you (and only you) have typed, in descending order, but if you havent typed anything yet, it will be empty.

Sorry if this seems so basic, I don't mean to be condescending, but I know its frustrating when you have such a basic problem as "where do I type?", so I just wanted to start at the beginning.

To talk to someone publicly, you just type "@username" in the tweet. This makes the tweet show up in their @username screen in addition to being visible on the HOME of everyone following you. This is the single most confusing thing about twitter at first. Its not where you type it, its the code it contains that makes a message appear in their public @inbox.

Tweets with a # sign are abut a #topic. This is just a convention that people use to mark the most important tags in the tweet if you will. You can then do a search for the "#topic" and only tweets that really emphatically wnated to emphasize htat word will show up.
Ah - so I've been going to my profile page all this time (not sure why).
I do recall being on the "home" page, but all the text on that page is gobbledegook. Here's a screenshot of what I now realise is the text box:


Another bug, I guess (the web seems to be infested with them).

So if I add a Twitter button to my website I guess I would link it to my profile page, right?

As you can see from the snapshot, I've requested the Tweetboard. Several times. Does it normally take weeks to get a response to requests like this?

There are messages on my home page from people I don't know from Adam. (I don't even know Adam.) Apparently they are under the absurd misapprehension that I am following them.

So the username of the person I want to tweet has to be included in the message. (You'd think they'd have a separate box for that.) Does it matter where in the message it appears? And - what if I only want to tweet that person, and not all his/her friends as well?
Hi wings,

First my congrats to you for building interesting networks.

I feel the only other basic point which needs to be clarified is that the length of comments in twitter can't be more than 140 characters (unlike in Ning). Here at Ning it is same as the length of comments in Status in My Page. At Ning you can discuss your thoughts, there you make announcements about what you have done or doing.

Thanks
RN
#1 - is VERY true. This may even apply to celebrity Twitter users. Personally, I don't like following anyone who only wants to talk about themselves and doesn't care about participating in the conversation.

#2 - Searches for conversations about your network/product/niche can be conveniently saved nowadays on Twitter itself but also on Twitter clients such as the ones Laura mentioned, or my favorite: Hootsuite.

#3 - Sometimes this means too tweeting or retweeting in a way that will not necessarily direct more traffic to your network, but it will make your Twitter account more valuable in the eyes of people. As a result, you will gain more followers.

#4 - Support can mean highlighting their accomplishments. It can also mean being there for them when/if they are having a problem they are going through.
Agreed with #4 - I love finding Network Creators who are doing cool things, and promoting it on twitter.
Hey Laura!

You mentioned:

"3. Become part of the conversation
This one is obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you are caught up tweeting, searching and listening; replying to other tweets is key. If your Twitter account represents your Ning Network, reply to other tweets that cover a similar subject. MyModernMet tweets out links to content on MyModernMet, but also replies to tweets from others about design and urban lifestyle."

Do Twitterers see that as invasive at all? If I want people to join my neighborhood network (http://www.sfpotrero.com), is it bad form to tweet back at people who mention the neighborhood in their tweets, like http://twitter.com/iangjacobs/statuses/5864077981?

Should I set up a new account with the same name as the Ning Network for those tweets, or should I use my name?

Thanks!
Evan
Hey Evan,

Whether you want to be "you" or "your Ning Network" on Twitter is totally up to you. Twitter has become (in my opinion) so much about searching (with hashtags, for people talking about your topic) that I wouldn't call it invasive at all.

That said, if you want to engage someone who is tweeting about Potrero Hill, I'd suggest replying at them and then following them.

Make sense?
-Laura
Totally. And it's cool if I include a link to the Ning Network, or should I let them discover it naturally by linking it from my Twitter profile?

Thanks!
Evan
You should include links to your network/relevant topics/posts/videos wherever appropriate. I wouldn't include a link for the sake of it, but I wouldn't leave it out if it'd be useful in guiding people or in answering someone's question.

Example:
http://twitter.com/tudiabetes/status/5815697935
IMO, make one for your network. That's less invasive because it makes your agenda clear and up front.

Its also better because the person doesn't have to be a detective to figure out that you have a network and where it is. You don't need to be ashamed to contact someone on twitter about something that's essentially a local community organizing tool. No one will be put off like that, because its not a corporate advertisement.

I think the vibe on twitter is "as long as your providing real value to me, go 4 it"

People who create tweets @people for truly spammish topics are really shunned, but this isn't a case of that.
I agree. Twitter has been set up as a more open space. People who don't want to be "invaded" probably have set up their Twitter profile as private or not even set foot on Twitter.

I think this is one of the unique dimensions of Twitter: you open yourself up to meeting other people who may be listening to the same kind of things/interested in the same topics/etc.
Speaking for myself (and based on conversations I've had with many friends and customers) it is much easier to engage with (and invest attention to) twitter accounts that are actual people. If if that is person who is speaking for a brand or group. i.e. comcastcares is a single person with a specific person's picture for the avatar (rather than an icon with who knows how many people behind the curtain).

And, I would interact with people on twitter the same way I would in a cafe.. "@name Oh, hey! I overheard you mention Potrero Hill. I have this group: [link]" "@name anyway, just wanted to say hi and see what you think about [link]"

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