Are you seemingly stuck with trying to suss out what to do with Twitter? Don't know how to get started? Does 140 characters seem daunting? Then you might want to take a look at a new O'Reilly book called Tweetsmart. There are lots and lots of Twitter-related books out there (Amazon lists more than 1600 books, including more than 500 of them available digitally as Kindle editions), this is the first one that is short and sweet and to the point. It is written by JS McDougall, the co-owner of a Web design firm who has written eight other tech books.

McDougall starts off his book by saying "this is not a social media marketing manual." And it isn't. If you have had trouble getting engaged with Twitter, then his 25 suggestions of simple "projects" (and don't be scared off by that word, they are really easy things to do, many of which can be completed in a single sitting and in just a few hours) to kickstart your Tweeting career. His goal with this book is to come up with ways that you can build and augment your existing community of customers, followers, connections, or whatever you want to call the people that you are communicating with using other mechanisms.

And these projects are designed for quicker payoffs and to see the results of your efforts, in keeping with the low attention threshold that is Twitter. Some of the projects that McDougall describes include:

  • Run a contest like your typical radio station: "be the 10th person to tweet" and give away a small prize
  • Create a hashtag game around your company or products
  • ?ake MadLibs out of your marketing copy or mission statement
  • Hold a scavenger hunt, and relay clues via Twitter
  • Organize a weekly Twitter chat on various subjects
  • Solicit funny product shots, using Twitter's photo-sharing utility

For example, you could run the hashtag game at your next user conference as an ice-breaker, and as a way to get your customers involved in doing something other than sitting in a meeting room. The idea is to have some fun with these ideas.

I admit that I could be a better user of Twitter: part of it is sheer laziness, part is just having too much to do in an average workday. But this book has got me fired up to try a couple of his suggestions. You can view a sample of McDougall's book and purchase it from O'Reilly's site here.