Twitter is such a fast-paced environment that many businesses don’t have the time or inclination to use it for marketing. However, Twitter is also highly effective for driving traffic and increasing engagement with both your content and your company, so it pays to get an account set up and someone to manage it properly.
Like most social media sites, it does take time to build a following and there’s no overnight solution to doing this; it takes work. This has led to businesses attempting to take shortcuts and buying followers, which is a pointless exercise as no matter what the seller promises, the followers you can purchase are rarely real accounts that are still in use. So let’s get that one straight first – don’t buy followers – it’s a waste of your time and money and it will get you exactly nowhere.
So, now we’ve cleared that up, what can you do to ensure that you get as much out of Twitter as a marketing tool as possibly?
First Steps to Twitter Excellence
First, you’ll need to sign up for your account and set up your profile. Choose your company name wherever possible and if it’s a long one, shorten it. Remember that when you post an update/link on Twitter, you only have 140 characters to play with. This means that people replying to you will have some of those characters made up with your @name, so if it’s huge, you restrict interaction.
Brand your profile too, using company colors, logos and if you can, have a custom background made. Ensure that Twitter becomes an integrated part of your brand and marketing strategy by maintaining consistency across platforms.
Coca Cola is one of the best in the world when it comes to advertising and one of the rare big-brand names that gets social right. As you can see, it uses strong brand colours and on this particular brand profile (it has more than one and users different profiles for various countries), the concentration is on people. Below, is one of the tweets in the Coca Cola timeline and is highly visible and attractive, enticing clicks.
The company also makes things topical by timing the post to coincide with award shows.
Using Hashtags – The Right Way
Hashtags are an important part of Twitter marketing, so before moving onto other posting tactics, a word about these first. There are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to using hashtags and many people make the mistake of overusing them. Have you ever seen a Facebook or Twitter post that has every other word hashed like this?
#imnotusedtousingtwitteranditshows or we’re #creating #video today on #vine
Annoying isn’t it? Remember this when creating your own.
- Be highly relevant to the content of the Tweet
- Be used sparingly
- Use capitalisation, allowing the eye to break into phrases easily
- Be used separately to the main text (or very sparingly in it)
For example, it’s a lot easier to read #CocaColaBottle than it is #cocacolabottle as the eye is looking for the easiest way to break a phrase up. There are some hilarious examples out there on companies that have got this wrong – including the unfortunate Susan Boyle.
Not the best tag in the first place and of course it should have at least have been presented as #SusanAlbumParty … it never takes the Twitter community long to pick up on mistakes like this that could have easily been avoided with a little thought.
This can happen and in such a way that it damages a brand, so do ensure that you also keep tabs on the hashtags you use. Also never do it to others, as tempting as it may be to think that you can piggyback on the same hashtag as a big brand, you’re likely to be the loser.
However, do use hashtags to talk about the same things or to enter into Twitter chats with your followers and with other brands. This is carried out by using one hashtag or phrase and setting a time, which you have pre-warned your followers of, to begin the conversation. In the beginning, it’s a better idea to join in with the chats of other brands in your industry, as they are likely to have followers taking part that are interested in your products too. If you can make sure that the questions you ask, or comments you make, are interesting and beg to be answered, then this can be a very effective way to gain followers and interaction.
Following and Followers
Don’t just blithely follow anyone on Twitter because they follow you. Depending on the nature of your business you will of course have a customer demographic and it’s these, as well as industry influencers, that you should be targeting.
This means actively looking for people that are in your niche and adding them. You will find that some accounts ask for you to confirm that you’re human before they accept you as a follower. I wouldn’t doing recommend this. You will naturally get some spam accounts following you but that’s the internet for you, any you pick up on you can block, quickly and easily, so why risk alienating a part of your following by insisting that they take extra steps to follow you? It’s counter-productive.
You can use tools such as JustUnfollow to identify those that don’t follow you (so won’t be seeing your tweets) to ensure that you always have some ‘space’ to identify and follow others that may be more interested in you. Do however give them more than a day or so and don’t follow and un-follow people aggressively, as this will get your account suspended very quickly.
Measuring Your Twitter Account
Followerwonk is an excellent resource for measuring Twitter antics, as well as finding followers using the search bios or profiles functions. You can also track how many people are following you and how many you’re losing.
You will always have people unfollow you, it’s a part of Twitter marketing. However, if you have a significant amount of people unfollowing you then it obviously suggests a problem that you need to address.
Reasons people might unfollow you include:
- Your updates just don’t interest them
- You failed to follow them back
- You post too often and don’t interact
- You post too little
- Your posts are not engaging enough
Experiment with your posts and see which get the best reaction. That way you can tailor posts further to ensure that you’re giving your audience what they want, rather than what you think they want.
Tweetreach is another resource worth checking out, as it allows you to see how far a reach your tweets have based on the size of your audience, the amount of retweets you get, which of your followers have contributed to upping your reach and much more.
Responding to Others on Twitter
Like Facebook, Twitter is a social network and it pays to keep that in mind. Keep it fresh and friendly. Post your own content but use curated content and retweets, too in order to make the most out of your account. If you simply tweet but never interact with others on Twitter then you will lose the interest of followers and gain no engagement.
People are not interested in companies that only ever promote themselves or their own content and it’s also advisable that you keep promotional tweets to a minimum. You don’t want to tell the world how great you are, you need to show them. This is done through great content and well-thought-out tweets, as well as pointing your followers in the direction of other, useful, interesting content that doesn’t come from you.
It’s a good idea to make sure that you reply to questions as quickly as possible and even quicker if it’s a complaint of some kind. Responding in a friendly, helpful manner is much more likely to elicit a positive response than if you’re defensive or worse, rude. It’s very easy to quickly ruin your online reputation in this way so do ensure that care is taken.
Hootsuite is one of the most popular software programs available that can help you manage all of your social accounts from one dashboard, so that you don’t have to flit from one network to another.
Final Thoughts on Twitter
Twitter is a great marketing tool and can be used by businesses of all sizes. You can also use Twitter advertising to boost your presence on the social network and I have found it to be pretty effective so far. It’s affordable for smaller businesses and it’s possible to set a small daily budget.
Bearing this in mind, do think about using it as a means to get started, but ensure you have your content and sharing plan mapped out first. Twitter ads are simple to use and you can target by location, interests, gender etc. just like you can with any other advertising platform. Best of all, it’s not too difficult to work out if you’re a small business owner and it gives you all of the metrics you would expect, such as engagement levels, analytics and conversion tracking.
I have always found Twitter to be one of the most effective social networks when it comes to driving traffic to my site, so if you don’t give it a try you very well could be missing out.