Social Networking Tools for MSPs - Tweetdeck
RT @mspbizman Great article on MSPs and SLAs - http://bit.ly/pIm4Ga #msp #var
It might look like a lost line of COBOL code but the line above is what is known as a "tweet", or a line of information sent out over the Twitter social network.
Translated, the above line says that a Twitter user found one of our tweets (@mspbizman) that we sent out about our aritcle on MSPs and SLAS and throught it was good enough to retweet (RT), or send out to their group of followers. The hashtags - #var and #msp - allow people interested in those hashtags to be able to find the tweet when doing a search.
What is Twitter?
For those of you who have been living under a cyber rock for the past few years, Twitter allows users to send short bursts of information (tweets), 140 characters at a time over the internet. The killer part of Twitter is that you don't really need the internet, because tweets can also be sent out and received over SMS.
How Can Twitter Help My Business?
OK, great, so what does this mean for your MSP or IT support business?
First and foremost, Twitter is a great way to meet and keep up with other IT companies and partners in the industry. It's also a great way to meet and interact with customers and clients (including potential customers and clients).
We've talked about Twitter in a few of our Webinar broadcasts on business networking and social networking and there were a few comments about Twitter being a waste of time. After all, you've got clients to look after, right? Who has time to sit and read information 140 characters at a time?
Use Tools To Manage Twitter
Twitter can be a waste of time - if it's not managed correctly. Done right, Twitter can open up a whole new world of client and business networking for your MSP or IT Support Business. One of the best ways to do this is by using a social networking tool to help manage your Twitter interactions.
Although there are a lot of tools out there, the one that we here at MSP BizMan have been using recently and have come to like is called Tweetdeck (which is now, interestingly enough, owned by Twitter).
Tweetdeck provides a clean interface that allows you to see what's going on in your Twittersphere at a quick glance. The screen is broken up into panels that show you what your friends are saying, popluar has tag searches that you want to watch, and what's trending on Twitter.
Probably the best feature in Tweetdeck is that it allows you to schedule your tweets. This is a great way that you can leverage Tweetdeck to your advantage, especially if you're a busy MSP.
When you've decided to invest some time in social networking for your MSP business, put a limit on it...let's say an hour or less in the morning, when you're getting your head ready for the day. Pull up Tweetdeck and have it ready. Then go about your business.
Let's say someone sends you an interesting news story in your email. Copy and paste the URL into the Tweetdeck interface, add a few thoughts of your own (remember, you've only got 140 characters) and click the "Schedule" button. Pick a time when you're out in the field or doing other projects away from your computer. Click "Send". You'll now have a Tweet going out while you're working on other things.
Repeat this process while you go about planning your day. See something interesting - news story, blog post, photo, video? Put up a tweet. Spread your Tweeting schedule out over the day.
To Tweet or Not To Tweet
Of course, you'll want to be careful about overTweeting. If you're sitting around in front of Tweetdeck all day, your clients are going to start to feel neglected. Try to keep it down to about 8 - 10 Tweets a day.
Twitter is all about listening to other users, so you'll also want to respond to any questions that someone asks you. This can be done through a private message or, if you think it might be useful to others, to the entire Twittosphere.
Twitter can be a great tool for cultivating clients and meeting new business contacts, when used wisely.
Don't get burned out or turned off by sitting in front of a Tweetdeck screen all day.
It can become tempting and make you feel like you're sitting in front of the big board at mission control, but Twitter is best used a little at a time and Tweetdeck is a great tool for that purpose.
You can follow us on Twitter at @mspbizman.