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Writing the Manchester Twitter Report

Manchester as a city has an incredibly active social media community. Regular events such as Social Media Cafe and the recent Social Media Day and Twestival celebrations have all been organised through various social channels, including Twitter and Ning.

But, the prominent role of social media in the area isn't just limited to events and meetups; hundreds of businesses across the region use Twitter to promote their brand and products.

During my time on Twitter - both personally and professionally - I have spotted a number of businesses using the channel in a variety of clever ways; museums which were promoting their latest exhibits, bars showcasing their new quiz night and companies highlighting their latest client win. I suggested the report in order to investigate how successful this usage actually was.

In December last year, I approached Al Mackin (theEword MD) with the idea of producing a report on the local use of Twitter.

It was decided from the off that the report needed some way to differentiate how these companies used Twitter. Indeed, the team looked at hundreds of different accounts during the planning stages of the project and it quickly became apparent that there was a huge variation in the way firms utilised the channel; some used it for promotion, others relied on the service to share news and blogs.

The team behind the report chose to value certain account qualities over others. Twitter is a service for engagement and the decision was made to weigh the results in favour of firms who used the service for interaction and conversation. With this in mind, an equation was created to take into account the various factors, including followers, number of '@' mentions and tweet quantity.

With the equation in place, theEword social media team began to scour Twitter for accounts. We utilised personal knowledge, Twitter directories, personal lists and recommendations from friends and colleagues to produce a list of 300 firms and organisations. Details from each of these accounts were used and an overall score was determined for each Twitter profile.

The research produced some interesting results; we saw a complete variety of techniques, tactics and approaches to the service and each author had a different view on how to use Twitter. It was remarkable to observe the diversity across the Manchester Twittersphere, even across the top accounts in the same industry sectors.

It's been fascinating to examine the different voices across the professional community; each of the top accounts had their own personality and style.
We found that professional accounts didn't have to be limited to updates about the latest client wins or news posts. The channel offers companies the ability to connect with an audience on a very personal level. Hopefully, more organisations can begin to take advantage of it.
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