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By now, if you have read any of my previous blogs, posts, tweets or tips about Twitter, you will know that I am quite the fan of having a Tweet Plan. I have been promising a guide to making your very own Tweet Plan for a while now, so I have decided it is time to ante up.

When I first decided that Twitter would be a great business tack for me and my company, I started doing some research on how to use Twitter effectually...get around the teen mentality that Twitter is simply a way to let everyone in the world know what color your socks are and how many calories you ate for lunch.

One of the first pieces of literature I came across was Cindy King's ebook “A Tweet Plan.” Obviously, this read has made an impact on my work. I honestly cannot remember how I came across this ebook, so unfortunately I cannot share that information with you, but if you are interested in getting the information first hand, I strongly recommend you add her to your Twitter and ask her: @CindyKing.

I have to admit that I was slightly overwhelmed by her ebook. It is rather lengthy and involved, but it really got me thinking and started me on a great route to Twittering. I have used her general ideas in creating my very own Tweet plan, and I am going to share my, somewhat simplified, version with you.

First of all, I want to warn you that setting up a Tweet Plan will take an initial investment of time, ranging from a few hours to quite a few hours, depending on the number of Tweets that you would like to offer each day, and the amount of research you put into each of your Tweets.

That being said, once it is complete, you can automate your quality informative Tweets for any length of time you choose. I typically try to do it for a month at a time.

A few extra caveat's: this is not for the Twitterer who likes to update people each and every hour on what they have just done with their day. This is not a replacement for conversations and you WILL still have to monitor your Twitter account for @replies, DMs and other pertinent information.

What this will do is ensure that you will get your daily message across without having to dedicate hours a day to Twitter. Instead, you can dedicate a few blocks of 10-15 minutes to keep in touch and up to date with your followers, and be assured that they are still receiving all the information they have come to rely on from you.

Another thing to keep in mind, this will not work unless you use TweetLater or some other program which allows you to pre-post your Tweets for a scheduled run time. If you are not yet familiar with this site, you may want to read my Pros and Cons of TweetLater before proceeding too much farther with your Plan.

Alright...enough chatter, lets get down to business. This is how I create my Tweet Plan.

First, you are going to have to use a spreadsheet program such as Excel or Calc (at least this is the easiest and quickest way I have found. You may generate your own preference if you work with programs that do mind maps, or whatnot).

Next, you are going to have to decide how many Tweets you would like to do each day and how many topics you would like to address.

For instance, I have a few different Tweet accounts: one for this wonderful network of pool industry professionals, @PoolGeniusNet, one focusing on the company I work for, @FlexibleSolutns, and one based around Sales & Marketing, @MoniqueNelson. I have stuctured them slightly differently, to ensure that the needs of each are met in a convenient and, hopefully, un-annoying manner.

For each account I post about 4 times a day, between 11AM and 2PM, on the hour. It is a good idea to spread your Tweets out so as not to overwhelm your followers. I have also found that the best times to Tweet in North America is between 9-4 PST, and my personal followers seem to be most active between 11-2, hence my timeline.

After you have decided how often you would like to Tweet, you need to decide how you want to present your tweets. For respectability in TweetLand, you probably want to include some links. I like to have a 50/50 ratio of text tweets to link tweets.

For example, you may want your first post to be a definition, and then your second to be a link to an article or website that further contemplates your definition. Next, you may want to ask your followers a question and then answer it for them with another link. Make sure you always say a few words about what the link leads to, or else people may (probably will ) think it is simply spam. Make it enticing...intriguing...worth clicking!

Now that you have a general idea, start a spreadsheet for your Tweet Plan. Leave column A and B blank, and then list the days of the week from columns C-G (weekdays only) or C-I (weekends included).

In column A, heading down the rows, list the times you would like your Tweets to appear.

In column B, beside the time, list what kind of tweet you will be doing (i.e. definition, link, question, quote, etc).

Now, all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Take some time, do some research and plug a weeks worth of tweets into your plans. Make sure to keep them within about 120 characters, so that they will be re-tweetable.

Once you have one week done, finish another, and another and one more for good measure. One months' tweets is a good goal to strive for, and I wouldn't recommend post-dating to many more than that, especially if this is your first go at a Tweet Plan.

You should now have one months' worth of quality Tweets. In order to make this Plan as efficient as possible, you now need to schedule these Tweets for their proper post times using a site or program such as TweetLater.

You are going to sign in with your Twitter account name (to ensure that they are posted to the correct account) and “add tweet”. You should be able to copy and paste each of your tweets and save them to run at a selected time and date.

As I initially warned you, this will take some time, but it is certainly worth it. I have found that the more Tweet Plans you create, the quicker you become at them. Such is the life of a Twitterer.

Now, keep in mind, even though you have automated your QUALITY Tweets, you still need to keep an eye on your audience and maintain conversations. You still need to write periodic thoughts, replies and tidbits of interesting information. You should never give the appearance that you have FULLY automated.

If you have questions or want clarification on any of these points, leave a comment. I know this has been a very brief introduction to a Tweet Plan, but I hope it gets you started!

If you aren't following me yet, you certainly should be: @PoolGeniusNet

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