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Control your TwitterverseControl your Twitterverse

With so many ways to reach potential customers, it’s hard to know what’s worth the effort and what isn’t. Although it’s easy to brush off microblogging site Twitter, there are big rewards for being actively engaged on the site.

Hopefully you know Twitter by now, but if not, here’s a quick introduction. Twitter is a website where people and companies set up very basic profiles and then send out basic messages (they are maxed out at 140 characters). The idea is that people follow your business, and your business follows other people. By doing so you become involved in a dynamic and rapid exchange of ideas.

When Twitter first began, there were many jokes about people updating (tweeting) their status every five minutes with messages about brushing their teeth and driving to work. The reality is that, increasingly, Twitter is a way to learn and disseminate important information rapidly and often. For those reasons it can be an excellent marketing tool. Consider that when someone follows your school, they are asking to be marketed to, theoretically without a limit. It’s a place you control your image, your message, and your engagement, and that is powerful.

While it has a simple concept and a simple interface, there are a few basics to consider before you get started.

Just like aviation, Twitter has its own slang and shorthand. It’s important to learn about tweets, followers, hashtags, retweets, and everything else that goes on within the site. Mashable, an online magazine of sorts and a great reference for everything Twitter, has this guidebook.

Because Twitter is a community, there are written rules, which are easy to read and follow, and unwritten rules, which are a little more ambiguous. Among the unwritten rules are things such as giving credit if you find a link from another user, avoid heated back-and-forth conversations, don’t tweet too often, and make sure to follow at least a few users.

Before you begin, jot down a few goals. Will you use the site to extend your school’s brand recognition, bring in new students, or enhance the relationship with the ones you already have? Your goals can be some combination of all these things, but it shouldn’t be only to add followers. That strategy leads nowhere and won’t serve your audience.

It’s important to try to define what your voice will be on Twitter and stick with it. Like any marketing piece, you want to convey a certain presence. Is that fun and adventurous? Maybe it’s serious and authoritative. Whatever the voice, try to more or less stick with it. There are a number of ways to engage your audience. Make sure you do what’s right for you and your school.

Whatever you decide your school’s Twitter voice should be, make sure to engage your audience. Links, breaking news, fun facts, pilot tips, photos, inside information, and a number of other tactics work well to keep your followers’ attention. Make sure to tweet on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be often, but a few times a day is appropriate if you have the capacity. Most of all, keep it interesting. Twitter has an amazing ability to make followers feel close to those they follow. Foster that.

If you follow a few basics, the audience will come naturally. And even if you don’t book lots of initial student pilot courses via Twitter, having your school’s name in front of previous and current customers a few times a day is a valuable thing.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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