You May Be Messing Up Your Twitter Strategy; Here's How to Repair It

One trap I've noticed that people in the travel industry fall into with Twitter is, instead of trying to position themselves as a brand to the general populace, they quickly form a community of other like-minded travel folks and start chatting with them. As a result, Twitter soon becomes a personal social network and not a professional venue through which you can demonstrate your travel expertise.

Compare the situation to the physical workplace. Have you ever had co-workers or employees who have seen the office as their own personal sorority? They're constantly instant-messaging jokes to other staffers and planning the daily happy hour get together. Sometimes they forget that the workplace isn't their personal playground.

Now, Twitter has no rules, so I'm not saying that anyone online there is doing anything wrong. I am saying, however, that if you consider yourself adept at Twitter— to be a social media expert, in fact— simply because you can write messages using 140 characters or less, you should also take a look at what it is you're writing. Is every tweet aimed at bolstering your public image? Are your more casual comments designed to engage potential customers or are they meant simply to garner a response from other travel agents or travel bloggers because you’re feeling mildly bored with your day? Are you using Twitter as a marketing tool or is this a playground that's an extension of your personal Facebook? Are your 100 new connections on Twitter potential customers who can bring you new business or are they new people that you can now complain about your day to?

If you're a newbie to Twitter, and have been on it a few months, it’s now time to take a step back to assess your experience. If you've given up hope of ever getting new business from Twitter ,but still find you're spending at least an hour on the site every day, it's time to rebrand yourself and get yourself back on the correct path.

Here are 10 tips to do just that:

1. Post links to interesting travel articles preceded by your own provocative and insightful comments. Are you in the dark about how to do this? See point #10 below.

2. You can also share useful information, say, if you read in your local paper that an interesting festival is coming up. You don't always have to share a link. If you can say it in 140 characters, you're all set.

3. Share practical travel advice you collect in the course of your personal travels or daily life. This could be transfer information from an airport to a hotel in a strange city or it might be a tip on how to get around your own town.

4. Share comments about unique and interesting trips you’re planning for your clients to draw others in. Ask questions on Twitter but do so sparingly.

5. Retweet interesting, relevant postings that you read on Twitter. Do this by copying and pasting the post into the spot on top of youur twitter home page. You should either. Put an [email protected] (whatever the Twitter name of the original poster is) or put a "via @ (name of the original  poster) at the end. You may have to abbreviate some words in the original posting to make it fit in the 140-character space.

6. Don't engage in casual conversation in the public timeline. Your followers don't want to see isolated comments from you that say, "LOL, I never knew that!" This is alienating, not engaging.

7. If you do want to interact personally with someone, send them a direct message. You can do this by clicking on their highlighted Twitter name in a Tweet; this will take you to their Twitter home page. You’ll see the option to message them under “Actions.” Note: You can only direct message those who are already following you, so you’ll have to request that the person in question become your follower in order to get the conversation going.

8. You may have created a Twitter persona that's meant to be a bit snarky. Nothing wrong with that, as that can be quite engaging, but don't be overly snarky. You'll become predictable all too soon.

9. Don't go to Twitter only when you’re exhausted and might be tempted to engage in the "don'ts" above. Use some of your best energy in the morning to plot out your daily Twitter strategy.

10. Has the meaning of the term, “tiny URL” escaped you?  Tiny URLs are created to fit within that 140 character space. To create one, copy the URL to the story that you would like to share on Twitter, then go to the website, Paste the link where indicated on the site, click where indicated, and you’ve got your tiny url.