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I'm working in a software company where we regularly do coding dojo (practices with peers) and tech monitoring to stay up-to-date (reading article, watching conferences, etc.).

I'm a software engineer but also the one in charge of the Twitter feed (we are a small company).

So, I was wondering how to leverage those practices and ethos to increase our community reach on Twitter?

  • Would this be different then any other type of company? – T. Thomas Jul 17 '15 at 23:38
  • Just to clarify: you are trying to grow your community (company fans/etc.) using social media? How does the following list relate to this? Thanks! – Anonymous Penguin Jul 18 '15 at 15:50
  • @TdotThomas we are in a tech-savvy community which differ from general population – Édouard Lopez Jul 20 '15 at 8:30
  • @AnnonomusPenguin what list are you talking about? – Édouard Lopez Jul 20 '15 at 8:31
  • Do you want to build up a community that is easily accessible for non-tech users (people without experience in your field) or one that is heavily focused on technical users (people who can code)? – Zerotime Jul 20 '15 at 9:26
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Fortunately, you have an advantage here. By stating that you just want to appeal technical users, you don't have to break down everything on a non-technical level. This will make the communication way easier.

Communication model

This is a communication model which is broken down on an easy level. We don't need it more detailed in your situation. Usually, you are the sender and your followers are your receivers (we will cover the vice-versa case later on), and everything is about getting the message over to them.

What it means to grow on Twitter

Before we talk about possible techniques, it's important to understand the people who use Twitter and what Twitter is meant to be.

Twitter is a really fast social network. You know the characters limitation, 140 chars, which basically means that you have to get as much information as possible in these few characters.1 The positive thing here is that most of your followers will know what specific terms mean, so your job is to summarize information. Really important note here: As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is relatively fast, so are the users. Don't even bother with splitting up your tweets in multiple ones. If it's really required, you may do it, but it's not the purpose of Twitter to tell your story in ten tweets.

Your goal is

  • to provide quick information of your field.
  • to attract technical users with particular informations.
  • to be up-to-date.
  • to share your coding dojos.

How you communicate

How you can communicate

Especially in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science, information can be heavily packed. Breaking down these packs is your goal. I've added a little graphic to cover the ways of sending a message. Let's sort it out because you usually don't need the non-verbal methods. Why?

  • Visual, non-verbal. Yeah, well, why would you want to add a picture without sharing a link?
  • Non-verbal, non-visual. You are no choir, I believe it's not necessarily required to share the latest tunes.

Nevertheless, the other two methods are your way.

  • Visual, verbal. A picture says more than thousands words. A lot of sites have a basic graphical layout for their images. You could try to develop a graphical design in which you can place your information.
  • Verbal, non-visual. Even though a picture says more than thousands words, too many pictures can be seen as a kind of spam. You aren't a fact site, neither are a photography site or a journalist. Also, not every picture fits every purpose. Don't post pictures that are misleading.

Since you shouldn't tell stories on Twitter, it's your job to summarize your content, make it appealing and help your followers to find to your homepage.

A possible tweet:

New coding dojo: How many bits can you save on this piece of code? Try it here: company-name.com/coding-dojo

Let's examine this example tweet a little bit:

  • "New" indicates that you have new information for your followers, putting it into the front makes clear that you don't intend to show content that you already have showed in the past.
  • "coding dojo" is the word you use to describe this task. By making it a unique and remarkable term users can remember it more easily.
  • "How many bits can you save on this piece of code?" This is a rather competitive approach of a summary. The content in the sentence should be clear: we provide code, and you should make it smaller. (Codegolf) You should always talk to your receivers, you is the keyword here. This is interchangeable with any of your summaries of possible projects.
  • "Try it here:" Well, you're just giving directions here. "Go here", "Head on", "Test here", etc. do the same.
  • "company-name.com/coding-dojo" The URL seems to be one of the less important bits of a tweet but it's one of the most importanst. It's the link which should be clicked by people, in the end. To achieve this
    • it has to be trustworthy. No URL-shorteners if not absolutely required. Nobody knows what is behind an shortened URL. This is rather unprofessional! (If you have to use one, use a URL shortener with reputation.)
    • it has to have nice structure so people can remember it. By linking to a source which ends on coding dojo as well, you gain more results in search if the term is searched - this can win you a few followers!
  • Never be annoyed publicly. You are the representative of your company, your tweets have to be written carefully. You are the polite and friendly gate to the company. Even if there's this one user, don't make a fuss, never!
  • Don't be afraid to use technical terms in your tweets. This is absolutely okay, just don't use terms that are highly specialized in one field of programming because you exclude possible followers on this way. Be a little bit broad so people know that it's about programming.

A possible tech monitoring tweet:

The API (of whatever software) has been changed recently, want to dive more deeply in it? We summarized the major points for you: company-name.com/information

The tech monitoring part is rather difficult. Since you aren't a news portal, not everything suits you. Just technical changes which are relevant for your company are relevant for your tweets. Why would you tweet about the changes of Python although you exclusively write in C++?

A nice thing to have: a link which refers to anything on your website that's related to the recent changes. For example: news explaining changes, a documentation, an objective report on the changes (pro / contra), etc.

What it means to be there (for your followers)

As I said earlier, there is the vice-versa case in which you aren't the sender but the receiver. This can happen quite quickly, it occurs the moment one of your followers is writing with you.

  • Be polite and try to answer their message as exact as possible.
  • Don't make a fuss about it.
  • Be professional. (No smileys if not appropriate, no content that isn't related to your field)

Because it's your job to be on Twitter, don't do any private chats via the official Twitter profile of your company. This will just harm you and your company. If someone wants to communicate with you as person, have them contact you on other ways.


1However, this isn't entirely true anymore. The main part of Twitter, tweets, are still limited to 140 chars, direct messages aren't supposed to be anymore.

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Most companies I've seen do well on Twitter use it up to three ways:

  • make announcements and provide information (we're holding a public event; here's a blog/video/podcast about a recent thing we did)
  • respond to other Twitter users who ask you questions, praise your things, and generally interact with you
  • RT, like, and reply to Tweets in a consistent way that demonstrates a particular "brand" whether that's funny, nerdy, leading-edge, specific to your geography, or whatever

This is as much about what you don't do as what you do. Is there a good reason for your business to retweet that offer for $5 off a bucket of chicken? Or that picture of a cute puppy? Maybe there is, especially if you can connect it to your events ("coding got you stressed? here's a puppy!" or maybe "coding never stresses us so much we need puppies, but if you do, here's one!")

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