Social Media Scotland Tips, Dissected

Twitter has some really helpful users, people who are more than willing to sacrifice some of their time to offer up tips and advice to others @tourscotland is such a user. Tourscotland, as the name suggests, runs tours of Scotland.

As part of raising awareness for tours of Scotland @tourscotland tweets with photographs and videos of Scotland. I follow the Twitter account and respect the commitment that Sandy Stevenson puts into the account.

Tourscotland’s Social Media Scotland Tips

It is indeed very social of tourscotland to offer tips on social media. Most of his tips are very valid for everyone, others are specific to the @tourscotland account and a couple I disagree with entirely – sorry Sandy :)

Unfortunately the first point I have is a criticism, but it is one of only a few: The tips given make “social media” and “Twitter” analogous, they are not. Social media also encompasses hundreds if not thousands of other sites and services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Delicious, Eventbrite, Posterous, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, Friendfeed, Tumblr, Twitpic, forums and blogs.

With this initial caveat out of the way, lets take a look at (and revise the subheading to):

Tourscotland’s Twitter Tips

Social Media Scotland Tip 1. Try to be yourself on twitter. People will either like you, or not, but at least it's you.

Sound advice for all aspects of life, Twitter should be no different albeit we have less space to express ourselves on Twitter than in most other parts of life.

Social Media Scotland Tip 2. Try to pick your niche wisely, either a personal, or business twitter account.

This is somewhat specific to those who:

  • Do not have a personal brand
  • Are targeting, or marketing to, a niche

It is good advice if those criteria apply, but otherwise you don’t need to limit yourself to a niche. Consider for example a recruitment consultant, normally they’ll be wanting to reach a wide spectrum of candidates. @NadinePierce for example uses Twitter very effectively for both work and play.

Social Media Scotland Tip 3. Try to communicate with your followers, don't just push promotions about your business.

Very good advice that all should follow. Ultimately talk about yourself / your business all you want, but if you can’t converse nobody is going to give a flying one.

Social Media Scotland Tip 4. Try to link your tweets to your own original content. Give your followers " real " content.

Ok. So. There are 2 parts to this one, the first part is nonsense I’m afraid. Not all links you tweet should point to your own content, in fact if they do you’re actually being anti-social. If someone else has created something that might be of interest to your followers you are doing them a disservice by not passing it on.

Giving your followers “real” content I wholeheartedly agree with – never pass on anything that you don’t wholeheartedly endorse yourself, as you will be credited with passing it on.

Social Media Scotland Tip 5. Try not to post same sentence several times in a row it will only show up once in search results.

The only change I’d make to this is to swap “try not to” for “do not” – it is the equivalent of shouting the exact same sentence over and over, in the street at 4am, on a Tuesday morning. It is anti-social, don’t do it.

Social Media Scotland Tip 6. Do not tweet very often to the same page on your website, that is simply spam.

Again, this if anything needs tightening, the “very” is superfluous. Tweeting the same link more than a couple of times is purest spam. Also consider that only tweeting links to your own site is anti-social and spammy. If another site has relevant information tweet a link to them, your followers get some variation and you start to build relationships with others in your niche.

Social Media Scotland Tip 7. Try to Tweet local information and events. Tweet local charities. Help others.

Tweeting about local information, events and charities really depends on whether or not there is any local relevance to your tweets. Helping others is always a good thing, after all twitter is part of the phenomenon known as social media (with the emphasis on social)

Social Media Scotland Tip 8. If you want people to RT your post leave 20 -25 characters for easy RTs.

This is half right, the one singular benefit of the “new” (November 2009) RT is that it no longer requires characters to be free. An RT
now is actually the original tweet with the RTer attached to it as metadata.

[Incidentally, if you look carefully at the TechCrunch page linked above you can spot one of Scotland’s greatest socialmedia minds @mikecoulter in the pic]

Social Media Scotland Tip 9. Try to remember that you were a beginner once too. Help newbies on twitter.

This is exactly the spirit of social media and is something we should all aspire to on Twitter.

Social Media Scotland Tip 10. Try to be consistent, tweet often. There are no " magic " ways to do well on twitter. Patience.

Consistency is good, it gives your potential followers an idea of how visible you will be in their tweet stream. Frequency, however, is not a metric that in itself should be aspired to – if you have nothing to contribute, don’t tweet.

Social Media Scotland Tip 11. Every one of your business tweets should either, inform or educate your followers about your niche.

Non-niche tweets actually show your human side and often make it easier to forge relationships with people who are perhaps more tangential to your business. Besides, social media should have a fun side to it too – it’s ultimately about relationships :)

Social Media Scotland Tip 12. Try to choose your words wisely on twitter. Every word counts. Be brief and informative.

Absolutely sterling advice.

Social Media Scotland Tip 13. Do not pay so called experts in Scotland lots of money to teach you this.

Perhaps the wording of this tip is unfortunate, but I think the sentiment behind it is one I share wholeheartedly. The amount of opportunistic charlatans who take money to “teach” people Twitter is nothing short of ridiculous.

There is space for social media consultants and agencies, but they really need to be made of stronger stuff than simply being able to show you how to set up a twitter profile.

Social Media Scotland Tip 14. Forget about how many followers you have, it is quality, not quantity, that counts.

This is the tip I disagree with most strongly, not for the point itself I may add but, because @tourscotland has, in the past, practiced following / unfollowing / following / unfollowing in order to gain more followers. It’s a widespread practice which even users of the magnitude of @GuyKawasaki do. Of course it is personal choice whether or not you want to do it, but I find it somewhat spammy.

While the number of followers that you have yourself doesn’t really matter, the ratio between followers and following is a crude but good indicator of authority. The higher that ratio is the more likely the twitter account is an authoritative one which gains followers through organic growth due to quality and not due to gaming reciprocal followers.

Social Media Scotland Tip 15. Remember that twitter is a " community. " Help people, and they will help you.

With any community, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it, Twitter is no different.

Social Media Scotland Tip 16. If you need Social Media help on twitter. Just ask, folks on twitter will help. Just ask.

Also good advice, never be afraid to ask. Know what it is that you don’t know and be sure to add Twitter to your arsenal of answer engines – the intelligence of the crowd is immense, query it.

Social Media Scotland Tip 17. Be authentic and truthful on twitter, be kind and giving. Be informative, be patient.

Again, sterling advice.

Social Media Scotland Tip 18. Don't tweet the news, 4square links etc. Make your own content real content.

Sorry, but this is bollocks. This is entirely personal preference.

If you check-in on 4square every time you go to the kettle / urinal then you’re going to wear the patience of your followers, but by all means tweet such trivial stuff too. Everything in moderation as my grandmother used to say.

Social Media Scotland Tip 19. Build your own blog, get a digital camera, and start tweeting to your own content.

This is but one way of using Twitter. It is @tourscotland’s way of creating content to tweet, but it is by no means the only way of doing it. Perhaps your account is one which tweeting a lot of photos would help, perhaps it’s not – you need to look at what works for you. Experiment and learn through your experiences, it’s how the best people in social media learnt.

Social Media Scotland Tip 20. Get listed on we follow directory. WeFollow is a directory of Twitter users organized by interests.

Sound advice again, but beware that wefollow composes a tweet which gets sent when you submit the form to complete the sign-up. The same happens if you ever decide to edit your interests. [A wee tip though: you can edit the tweet prior to sending it ;)]

So, Where Are Burnett’s Social Media Tips?

Well, in part they’re here, in part they’re in other blog posts, in part they’re on my twitter feed and, yes, in part they are paid for by clients. Do I feel guilty about taking money for social media consultancy? No. I am bloody good at what I do as plenty of people who have worked with me will testify to.

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  1. I think you have hit the nail on the head with Sandy’s ‘social media’ tips – most of it is terrible, especially numner 14! How can anyone genuinely follow 35,000 people?

    He also spams his own twitter feed by thanking all and sundry for their RTs etc, which is why I stopped following him months ago.

    I do believe he got a huge following on twitter after appearing on CNN news to do with the ash cloud when he was single handedly trying to sort everyone’s travel plans out and has merely followed them back

    Yes, I am smug in that I have a perfect ratio of followers to people I follow (in my favour) as you can only really track 3-400 people’s tweets realistically without spending hours on twitter a day.

    Social media ‘experts’ out there, such as yourself do their job as there is a demand and it drives me crazy that people such as @tourscotland who has barely been on twitter deems himself expert enough to publish tips.

  2. Thanks for your comment Alex.

    I do think you’re being quite harsh on Sandy. I did think a couple of them were bollocks (and said so) but on the whole I thought they were ok – especially taking into consideration they were delivered via Twitter and as such had a 140 character limit.

    I couldn’t agree more with the amount of charlatans in Scotland’s social media charging daft rates for mediocre expertise, but as you point out there are also a handful who genuinely understand the medium.

    There is a future series of posts planned which will showcase some of the things I have seen self-proclaimed social media ‘experts’ do.

    For the next couple of weeks though my only endeavour, socially or otherwise: is to socialise with my newborn daughter!

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