Oct28

How to Harness the 6 Types of Twitter Conversations

Posted by Sarah Holt

Kelly Kirkham looks into how to make the most of your business tweets…

As Jimmy Fallon would say in his weekly Tonight Show #LateNight Hashtags, “You guys are on Twitter right?”

He says this every time, no joke. But there’s a reason. With 271 million active users, Twitter is a big deal. And not just for individuals, for businesses, too.

So how do you harness Twitter as a business? What should you be talking about today?

According to Pew Research Center there are six types of Twitter conversations. Understanding these ‘types’ can help you master the art of tweeted convos. We list the types below and explain how these can be used to sculpt your own successful business tweets.

 

  • Divided (Polarized Crowds)

The Fox News/CNN effect is an example of a Divided type of twitter conversation. One group talks about Fox issues on twitter and the other discusses CNN. They rarely talk to each other and depend on completely different sources. The divided conversation consists of two large groups that disagree and rarely interact. This creates two divided echo chambers where the ideas seem to circulate over and over again.

You can harness the knowledge that this type of twitter conversation exists. When you’re ready to tweet about a topic, it helps to be aware that not everyone will be talking about it the same way. Maybe create a few different types of tweets aimed at different groups.

 

  • Unified (Tight Crowds)

The unified conversation could be considered the ‘jargon’ category. Within any industry there are words that are specific to that industry. Think of sailing and the words of sailors; swab, port side, deck for example. Unified conversations are connected by industries, hobbies, or professions. Each of these conversations are participated in by ‘insiders’ but

each individual belongs to more than one unified group, causing a bit of a swirling pattern in the conversations as the ideas blend from different sources.

Harness this type of twitter conversation by researching what hastags the influencers in your industry are using. Use them in your own tweets to attract the right people.  Another idea is to attend conferences that are relevant to your industry and use the hashtags connected to these conferences to attract an audience.

 

  • Fragmented (Branded Clusters)

This conversation consists of many small clusters formed around a variety of topics; brands, events, celebrity gossip, etc. Think of an auditorium of teenage girls, they’re grouped with a few other girls and talking about things they will most likely forget tomorrow (I can say this since I used to be a teenage girl). These small clusters of individuals are periodic and offer almost no connectivity, although when totaled they can consist of mass populations.

You can use these types of twitter conversations to build brand awareness. Comment on events and celebrity news in a way that’s as relevant to your industry as possible.

 

  • Clustered (Community Clusters)

Clustered conversations are similar to community clusters except for two major differences:

1) Clustered communities participate in a global conversation, and
2) Clustered communities are connected, so news travels fast.

Use the example of a town crier from the old days; he yells news to the town and a traveler then tells the neighboring town crier who again yells to the population, and so on.

This method is a perfect example of content ‘going viral’. You can take advantage of these types of tweets by commenting on global news and affairs in a way that’s relevant to your industry.

 

  • In-Hub & Spoke (Broadcast Network)

This form of conversation is your name is lights! Okay, well maybe not your name specifically, but someone’s name. The broadcast network forms when a major publication, news outlet, celebrity, or other large population is observed by many small parts. Similar to a media outlet tweeting breaking news and their many followers re-tweeting the same information. Little interaction is traced among the parts and result in a star-shaped audience.

To harness this type of conversation, pick some influencers to follow on twitter and interact with them by retweeting their posts and pictures. Your audience will connect you with these influencers and it could help build trust in your brand.

 

  • Out-Hub & Spoke (Support Network)

If you take the In-Hub method and turn it inside out, you will then have the Out-Hub/Support network. This method of communication occurs when large companies offer customer support or when a government is conversing with individuals. The large group is dispersing information to the smaller groups, who are usually disconnected and in need of the same information. This would be consistent with a large email list sending carbon copies to many individuals.

To make this sort of twitter conversation work for your own company, you could do things like creating a hashtag for support and monitoring its use using tools like Hootsuite.

What does this mean for my social media marketing strategy overall?

Each of these mapped conversations hold importance in specific areas as mentioned above. However, keep in mind that Twitter users only represent 18% of Internet users and 14% of the overall US population.

Pew Research Center has shown that “tweeter’s reactions to events are often at odds with overall public opinion-sometimes being more liberal, but not always.” It is important to remember that tweets are notorious for not going as planned and can sometimes end in disaster.

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