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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Would be a great addition! This would be much quicker, and easier to find, than the share button.
To showcase how this could work, here's a good example from a Wordpress blog. Notice how the Tweet option has a counter and there's also a Facebook option associated with each post.

BTW, thanks for the willingness to at least suggest this to the developers. I knew there was a reason you were my favorite person at Ning, Laura. ;)

http://scottmonty.com/
Hi Bob,
We use the same as your example - - a "tweet this" service and widget provided by:
http://tweetmeme.com/

We did use "twit this". But, it was really slow to load.
http://www.twitthis.com/

Course best scenario, as you suggested, a "tweet this" integrated within Ning platform would be the best. :-)

Best,
Jen
Scott just contacted me and said his blog is actually based on The Blogger platform. Dang lurker. ;)
The one issue we've found with Twitter is that the age grouping(around 15 average now) and the mostly text orientation(80% of tweets are device specific, NOT computers) makes me wonder if perhaps I'm missing something. How does a person on a txt based system, appreciate a web based message?

Those numbers are from Twitter themselves. Not surprising, since the basis for their model is the 144 character text world.

Patrick

Still scratching his noodle on all the Twittering
Most of the device specific numbers are coming from web apps on smart phones, so it comes down to your definition of what a computer is. My iPhone is every bit a computer from me. I can even blog and work on documents. So there's that.

As for the age grouping, I had not heard that. I thought the average power-user on Twitter was still 30+. Casual numbers last time I looked averaged 20+, but that might be getting younger.

As for it's use, I find it to be my #1 traffic driver. I've got people who are already on a computer device who can click and link and go right to the traffic. But then, most of my core audience are in the social media space, so my results may be atypical.

Bob
Marking to read later... :)
Laura the site you mentioned are great. How do people totally customize their ning so that it doesn't even look ning-ish! (like twittermoms and no depression).
I love Twitter too, but recently i created my own twitterclone on Shoutem.com, named NINGSHOUTS.

First of all i hope you won't see this as spamming for my ningshouts social network because it isnt meant that way, i created this community mainly for all NING-ers that love to tweet in an environent that involves ONLY NING issues, ning news, and all other promotion for all ning network creators.

People can send out tweets about their NING social network and network with other ning nc's and promote their ning socal networks and tweet about updates that are being made on their particular social networks. I find this sytem to be really usefull, since it gives emailnotifications when someone replies to your shouts (tweet).

I use THWIRL to read all te updates going on on all of my twitter accounts, aswell as on my own ningshouts network. Thwirl is a cool tool that allows you to maintain multiple accounts in a very easy way!

I won't show the url to my ningshouts network here since i dont want to be seen as a spammer, so if there are people interested in ningshouts they can contact me through my profile here on creators.

I think Laura's approach is great, but it's a lot of work to track everything that's going on about your twitter account, phewwwww. But it's a great way to get members indeed.

Cheers,
Zohra
There's a book I'm reading called "140 characters" about the new etiquette of how to make the most of your status updates on sites like Twitter and Facebook (and your own Ning network). It's written by one of the founding team members of Twitter and offers great insight on how to be effective, entertaining and relevant to your followers. You can learn more about the book at 140characters.com.
If the book was written using only 140 characters I'd be impressed.
I must admit that the people who do (and thus love) Twitter the best, are the one's who thrive in the challenge of the 140. There's is something really satisfying to me when I manage to get a strong thought squeezed into such a small space.

And with such a simple outlook to it, I'm also skeptical of the how-to books on Twitter. I mean really! I don't expect everyone to get Twitter right away, but a book on the subject is kind of like reading a book on breathing. ;)

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Projects that the Ning 3.0 Team is currently working on: 

Articles - a new way of organizing longer content pieces. Released 4/16.

Activity Feed Updates - options for more content in the activity feed.

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