Most people have already experienced the online phenomenon that is ‘Twitter’ – but in case you’ve been avoiding it, here’s a simple explanation. Twitter is an online microblogging forum where users “tweet” by posting messages of 140 characters or less. In a nutshell, Twitter users enter into conversations, post news or links to other Internet content, and retweet other people’s posts.
With around 500 million tweets every day, Twitter is much more immediate than other social media; communication takes place in real time and messages soon lose their relevance, so it’s critical to keep up and be current with your communication.
Using Twitter for Business
There are lots of benefits to including Twitter in your social media coverage. It is a way of engaging with your customers, building your brand and sharing your expertise. You can give information and announcements about your business (without directly advertising), and drive traffic to your website.
How you decide to use Twitter will depend upon the type of business you run, your customer demographics, and your overall marketing strategy. For instance, if you are an expert in your field (perhaps a tax accountant, or a tour operator specialising in the Far East), you might want to showcase your knowledge by posting short bits of information or by entering into conversations on relevant subjects.
Or you might be more interested in engaging with your customers by offering entertaining posts-– amusing snippets, inspirational quotes or links to interesting articles-– or by running contests and quizzes. And, if you run regular articles on your company website, you can post links to the articles on Twitter.
How To Use Hashtags
Use hashtags to search for topics that interest you, and to post on those same topics to catch the attention of like-minded people.
It is also a good idea to create a unique hashtag for your business so that you can easily pull up everything that others say about you as well as what you say.
But a word of warning: only put one or two tags in each tweet, or your messages will become unreadable! Make sure that people can find your content by including hashtags in your tweets. As an example, if you search under #decodedbusiness, you will find a list of all the recent tweets that include that tag.
Check your unique hashtag regularly so that you know what people are saying about you on Twitter. Don’t ignore comments by others; thank those who praise you and make sure that potential and current clients see that you deal with any criticism in a constructive manner.
Align Your Profile With Your Brand
Keep your business and private Twitter profiles separate; set up a new account for your company. You may even want more than one account if you have discrete products or markets. The exception to this rule is where you and your brand are indivisible, for instance if you are an artist or a musician.
Think carefully about your profile. Make sure that your user handle (maximum 15 characters) is memorable and clearly identified with the business, and that your profile picture is captivating and shows what you do (pictures of your staff going about their work are ideal.)
Your profile should also show the company’s location and include a link to your website. The “about you” section of the profile allows 160 characters to talk about yourself and your business. This is an excellent opportunity to remind yourself of exactly what you do and what your brand encapsulates! Include one or two hashtags so that you will show up in search results.
Remember that everything that you tweet or retweet must be in keeping with the ethos of your brand. Don’t retweet blindly: if a message contains a link, check its content before you retweet. Don’t get involved in online conflict, either; Twitter may be a real time platform but there have been many well-publicised cases of ill-advised tweets going viral and causing substantial damage to their originators.
Maximising Your Reach
Your aim is to reach as many people as possible by attracting new followers and by providing content that people will want to retweet. One way of building up your followers is to follow other people; they will often follow you back.
Use the search function to find people that interest you; perhaps clients, other businesses in your area, or your competitors. You will find that Twitter starts to suggest people for you to follow based on your interests and that, as your own following increases, you appear in suggestions made to other people.
As with all social media, Twitter is a two-way process. Remember to retweet appropriate tweets, and to reply to tweets made by others. The chances are that they will return the favour.
Monitor Your Results
You will need to monitor your results to check that your strategy is working. Some information is available within Twitter itself: Is the number of your followers increasing? How often are your posts commented upon or retweeted? How often do these interactions make it back to your website, or result in sales and interactions on your page?
If you use goo.gl to shorten URLs when posting links to your website, you will find that it gathers useful analytic information about the reach of those tweets as well. In this way you can start to build up information about the most effective content and the best times of day for tweeting.
Finally, consider creating individual hashtags for any special campaigns or promotions you run. This will enable live tweeting (always a good way of attracting interest), and allow you to assess the success of the campaign once it is over.
Tweeting Offers Great Customer Engagement
Twitter is a massively popular social platform and a great way to engage with your customers. With the right approach, ‘tweeting’ can be an invaluable part of your marketing strategy.