Since it's inception in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a small microblogging platform to a vast social ecosystem offering rich opportunities for brands and customers to interact. Unfortunately, the continued growth and diversification of branded presence on Twitter can lead to confusion regarding how your business should participate in the tweetosphere. For those of you wondering how to get started, I've compiled a list of basic tips to get your gears turning (in the right direction).
Start With an Introduction
A compelling overview in the bio section is critical to ensuring users stick around to learn more about your brand. There's no undoing a first impression, so invest considerable effort into determining how you'd like to be percieved here.
While including your basic information and website URL are key componenets, don't forget to be personable as well. Providing bits of humor or colloquial wording are great ways to communicate your brands identity, which customers love to feel like a part of. For an example of a brand doing this right, check out Eat24:
Although you're on Twitter to market your business, effective tweeting requires just as much listening as talking. Before you engage in the tricky process of promoting your brand, spend some time assimilating into the Twitter community. There will be plenty of time for self-promotion later on, your job for now is to make sure there's an audience around to hear it.
Follow relevant users or industry leaders, start introducing yourself, and be sure to keep your tweets focused on the conversations at hand. Participating in trending topic discussions is a phenomenal way to get your name out there. Taco Bell does a great job of blending community participation, humor, and promotion all together for a winning social recipe. Below, you can see how they joined in on a Trending Topic:
Don't forget your purpose
Armed with an understanding of the dynamics of friendly Twitter participation, you're in the right frame of mind to start considering how promotion can be incorporated. Talking with, rather than at, is crucial to success on this platform - but there's no reason you shouldn't take advantage of the opportunity to mention your product in a respectful fashion.
The appropriate ratio of conversation-to-selling tweets is subjective and depends on your industry and specific goals. Pinterest graciously dedicates the vast majority of their tweets to sharing boards and content from happy users, and keeps their own promotional copy pretty limited. This allows users to simultaneously learn more about the product while recieving added value in the form of how-to's and tips for everyday life:
Keep it short
Twitter is inherently based in brevity, and your messages should stick to that principle. Many accounts view the 140-character limit as a challenge, and consistently hit that maximum. But this leaves little room for reflections or additions from your audience – and isn't that type of engagement and social reach the reason you're on the platform in the first place? Statistically, shorter tweets are proven to drive increased engagement.
Take advantage of this simple approach. Remember, people come to Twitter for the short bursts of intriguing information, not the extended opinion pieces and press releases they can find on our website. Keeping your tweets short and your message concise will not only be appreciated, it will be rewarded.
National Geographic proves this to be true with over 3.6 million followers and continuously short copy which prompts followers to click through for more:
Avoid talking to an empty room
All that hard work drafting compelling tweets deserves to be rewarded with visibility and engagement. Determining the times of greatest activity among your followers is critical to ensuring tweets are visible, and can actually be automated through applications such as FollowerWonk.
In general, weekend tweets tend to see slightly higher engagement than weekdays – but that doesn't mean you should only be posting on Saturdays! A great way to ensure your tweet feed is robust without spending too much energy during low-traffic times is to schedule batches of evergreen messages to fill the lulls. You can do so through platforms such as HootSuite and TweetDeck.
Work to build a steady balance between automated messages and real-time conversations. While scheduling is great for keeping your feed full, the ability to actively engage with relevant users is invaluable. Remember Oreo's Superbowl power outage tweet that got over 16,000 Retweets? You can't automate that kind of real-time engagement. (Image courtesy of Wired)
Incorporating a call to action in your tweets is imperative to getting users to respond to or share your message. Just as traditional marketing dictates, using Twitter effectively requires you to ask for little thinking from your audience.
If you want to start a discussion about the 4th of July, ask your followers to share their plans and drive a conversation. If you want an important promotional message amplified, ask them to Retweet it. You'll be amazed how happily they oblige when you spell out a clear call to action. Simply asking users to Retweet has been shown to increase the RT rate 23 times!
If you're looking to use Twitter for lead generation, the network just released a nifty feature which allows brands to incorporate calls to action and info forms right in a tweet. (Image courtesy of Twitter)
Use tools to uncover insights
Lists are a great tool for tracking activity on Twitter, but often go underutilized in the business realm. If you don't have the resources to create streams in paid social platforms like HootSuite, Twitter offers the capability to track lists of users and see their tweets separate from our home feed.
This is a great resource for staying updated on the activity of your most valued followers or brand evangelists – but it's even more useful for keeping tabs on your competition. Just be sure you set the list to private! advanced search tool also opens doors to uncover hidden insights. In under a minute, this nifty feature allows you to hone in on tweets sent to or mentioning specific users, including specified keywords, with a positive or negative sentiment.
To learn a little more about how to use Twitter straight from the bird's mouth (I couldn't help myself), check out the Best Practices page.
As with any other social platform, don't anticipate overnight success on Twitter. It will take time to build a legitimate follower base, and mastering the tweet is easier said than done. But your efforts will pay off exponentially in the long run in the form of brand enthusiasts and loyal customers, so don't hesitate to get started!
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eldh/5858249526/sizes/n/in/photostream/