12 years ago, in 2006, when Twitter was born, most people jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for this platform. “It caught on [because] it’s free and open, connects people, and gives them power—but also it’s simple. Signing up is trivial. Posting an update is a piece of cake” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). It was the next social media craze since Facebook came on the scene two years earlier. A lot of people signed up and played around with it. Then shortly after they all but abandoned their accounts, dipping in and out of the Twitter pool as time went on.
I believe this to be true because I did it and have heard from many friends and acquaintances that recounted the same experience. Today, I’m sitting with a different attitude when it comes to Twitter. I had heard recently that one of the biggest values that Twitter offers is in the marketing research made possible within the platform. I didn’t really understand how it was used in this way until I watched the Lynda.com series by Brad Batesole called “Twitter for Business.” In what follows you’ll find an overview of how useful Twitter can be for you personally but especially for your business. It will be worth the read if not at the very least to brush up on your Twitter skills.
Let me paint a picture of what Twitter looks like, but first, let me ask this question. Do you know what the biggest benefit of being on Twitter is?
In business, its “having another channel to educate and engage with current and potential customers.”
With this being said, on Twitter, you’ll need to commit to being on the platform consistently and very frequently. The most prominent feature of Twitter is how fast the info moves. It’s a time-based platform with frequent posts being published. Notably, 80% of Twitter’s users access the platform on a mobile device and do it several times a day (Batesole, 2017). When you start using Twitter I would suggest you commit to posting one to two times a day to keep up with the platform. “People want to hear from businesses on Twitter. It’s a quick way to evaluate a brand, check for a special offer, and see what others must say” (Batesole, 2017). The best way to grow your business is to combine enough time and the right strategy for your brand.
Before we dive into the strategy of using Twitter to grow your brand, it’s best if we cover the basic terminology within Twitter.
Twitter Handle: is the username that people will find you by and its preceded by the @ symbol.
Tweet: This is the short message you post on the platform that contains up to 280 characters. You can include photos, links to videos and websites/blogs. A tweet is a noun. Tweeting is when you send the message and is, therefore, a verb.
Timeline: This is the feed of tweets made by all users you follow. It is real-time and the unique thing about Twitter is that all tweets are public.
Home Stream: This is where all tweets posted by people you follow show up.
Following: This means you subscribe to other user’s updates.
Follower: This is the user that chooses to see the content posted by another user by hitting the button on the respective profile.
@reply, mention, direct message, hashtag and the retweet: These are all functions in relation to tweets. @reply is used to reply to a tweet. The direct message is a private message sent to a user. You can send one to a follower and receive one from someone you follow. A mention is when you use someone’s handle in your updated tweet. A hashtag is a word that starts with the pound sign. It categorizes your tweet and gives you a way to search for content by a term. A retweet is when you share someone else’s tweet on your own feed (Batesole, 2017).
Now that you understand the value of Twitter, go to Twitter.com to create your account. When you get to the step where you are asked to choose a username, it’s important to choose something relevant to your brand and not necessarily your name, unless your name is heavily involved in your brand identity.
The next step is to optimize your profile, which is essential for every social platform. You’ll want to create a profile that builds your brand to become top-of-mind for your target audience. The most important question you’ll need to ask yourself is “what’s the most important customer?” (Batesole, 2017). You’ll want to create a bio using language that speaks to that audience. They should see your information and be able to relate to it as well as understand it.
The next part of optimizing your profile is to add a photo and header image that reflects the brand and image you want to portray. Some excellent, easy-to-use, and free apps that can help you with this are Canva and Adobe Spark. Check them out and you might be in there for hours like I am designing the perfect images.
When it comes to your bio, think of it as an opportunity for you to convince people to follow you. Make it interesting, unique and creative. Write out in a few words what makes you special.
Once you start tweeting there is a special feature you can use to promote your brand on Twitter. It’s the “pin a Tweet feature.” This is where you “select a tweet to always appear at the top of your stream. When visitors visit your profile” (Batesole, 2017), that’s what they’ll see first. Get more engagement on a tweet or an important point you want to get out to your customers. There are many things this pinned tweet can include such as; a photo, video, call to action or just something to supplement your bio. Use it to your advantage.
Connect with Others
Some things to think about when getting engaged with other users on Twitter is to decide what kind of followers you want to attract. Be sure that they are the sort that fit in with your brand and be mindful that you are endorsing them when you engage with them. When it comes to connecting with existing contacts, it’s best if you take the time to “build a high-quality fanbase by following and engaging only users that are relevant” (Batesole, 2017).
Another useful strategy for gaining insight and reach on Twitter is the use of the hashtag (#). Through this symbol, you can “explore concepts, find new information, and increase the reach of your tweet” (Batesole, 2017). An easy way to organize content and conversations is by using hashtags. On the homepage of your profile if you look at the left side you can see what hashtags are trending, for example, you may see #Easterweekend, and #MarchMood right now. These trending hashtags are all a part of a larger conversation going on inside the Twitter communities.
A very useful feature I discovered through this study was the Twitter list. This is where you can store a list of tweets and other users and nobody even has to know you are collecting them (as long as you choose private mode). It’s incognito. You could apply this to your competitors or even your friends and family. You may not want to follow certain users with your business account but want to keep up with what’s going on in their lives. Another way to think of it is a “curated newsfeed” (Batesole, 2017). A list helps you to maintain visibility on the platform.
All About the Tweet
Now that you’re all set up with your profile and you’ve optimized it, you’ll want to be intentional about your activity on this platform. Follow this list of 6 items as you go forward in your Twitter account.
First, identify what personality you want your brand to portray. Twitter is informal by nature so be mindful of adding your personal (human) touch by making your tweets sound like you said them rather than in a robotic manner. Always keep the balance between personal and professional as you represent your brand on Twitter. Along these lines, be ready to use Twitter to manage any crises that your brand may encounter. Such crises could include a broken website or a messy PR situation. Respond via Twitter right away to stave off any extra negativity. Always be truthful and your authenticity will shine through.
The second item on the list is to determine the marketing objectives you want to achieve using Twitter. Do you want to provide support to your customers? ”If you create a Twitter account for your company, people will expect you to respond when they tweet their questions and problems to you. And even if you’re not there, that certainly doesn’t stop people from speaking about you on Twitter” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Becoming an industry expert may be your goal. Do you want users to recognize your brand? Always build your strategy around marketing objectives you want to achieve.
Thirdly, for every tweet you post have a clear objective. Do not blindly post tweets that have little to do with your brand. You will not keep the attention of your followers. This rule of thumb is usually one that most users don’t heed.
The fourth important point is to add a photo or video to your tweet to get a favourable response from other Twitter users. This element adds a rich layer to your tweet. “People are more likely to share and respond to tweets that inspire or entertain them, solve a problem, or answer a difficult question” (Batesole, 2017).
The fifth thing you’ll want to consider is creating a tweet schedule. Many social media managers create batches of tweets to fill the bulk of their posts in order to save time and energy. A useful scheduling tool native to Twitter is TweetDeck. Here is an image of my TweetDeck. You can see on the far right, I have one prescheduled tweet. It’s actually quick and easy to view everything in this dashboard.
The sixth important item is to study the analytics of your Twitter activity. Are you reaching your marketing objectives? Is your account performing like you want it to? I will show you at the end of this blog what the analytics dashboard looks like where you can see the data on my account after a week of consistent effort.
A marketer’s biggest inquiry from a potential client is usually “How do I find my potential customers?” “Twitter is like a giant coffee shop, only you can search for the exact conversations you want to jump into” (Batesole, 2017). Inside there is a great system (wizard) for searching for exactly what content you want to find, follow and consume. The purpose of being on Twitter is to break out of obscurity. Once your tweets are getting the attention you desire it only makes sense to reply, retweet or mention another user when there is something valuable you’ve found.
If you really want to leverage your content, craft the type that warrants retweeting. This will give you the best chance to go viral and may lead to third-party validation. This is the business owner’s dream, to be an industry leader and be top-of-mind.
Take full advantage of the content you put out on any platform by linking it to as many other platforms as possible. The easiest way to explain this is to simply add a Twitter follow button to your website. There is a bit of skill needed to perform this. Go here to find out a step by step guide. When you promote social sharing your brand gains visibility and that can lead to virality.
Another great way to keep users engaged with your brand is to add an embedded widget right on your website. Go here to find out more about how to do that.
I will touch briefly on the topic of advertising on Twitter. The first thing you need to do is create an advertising account. Twitter offers self-serve advertising where you can choose to advertise your account to a new audience or a competitor’s audience. The system used to price the ads is CPE (cost per engagement) where you don’t pay unless someone takes action on your ad. There is no minimum spend plus you can set your own bid amount. To take a look around go to ads.twitter.com.
With Twitter, you can create advertising campaigns that promote your account or your tweets. You’ll need to determine what your marketing objectives are as you create your campaigns. After some advertising is launched you can view the metrics in real time and after the fact. The dashboard can be found in your profile under analytics which is found in the drop-down menu under your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of the homepage. As you view the information you can decide how the performance of the ads are measuring up against your marketing objectives.
The last few things to act on with Twitter are some of the easiest to perform but the most important ones. Always remain active on the platform by responding to other users. Use third-party tools to achieve productivity. One thing I had fun learning and playing with was the keyboard shortcuts available on the Twitter platform.
Here is the shortlist:
- N to compose a new tweet.
- Ctrl + Enter to send a tweet.
- Escape to exit the compose window, or any other popup (not specific to Twitter, but very handy)
- F to favorite a tweet.
- R to reply to a tweet.
- T to retweet a tweet.
Of course, the TweetDeck is a great tool to build your custom schedule where you can also manage any lists you created. It also allows you to manage multiple accounts.
Keep your marketing engaging, creative and relatable to your target audience. Work in your call to action in a subtle way so as not to come across too salesy. One unique idea is to offer something that isn’t offered anywhere else on the web. That will keep your followers coming back to your Twitter account. One last way to track your Twitter marketing efforts is to use Google Analytics. “You really want to consider adding Google UTM tracking. This tracking is easy to add to any URL and it will override the default tracking metrics. So, the basic tracking we can add is utm_campaign, utm_source, and utm_medium and the way this works is that each of these will be referencing a tag so we can tell Google exactly what we want it to capture and we place these variables at the end of our URL” (Batesole, 2017).
There are so many reasons for a business to use social media but the main one is to help your brand break free from obscurity. As you follow this blog and make changes to your account, you can measure and analyze the data that comes from it and decide if Twitter is the best platform for your brand. Here I have shown the analytics of my dashboard to show you how my account has changed in the last week. Everything you have read about on this blog is exactly what I did to get these results (other than ad campaigns).
(Shown below is an image of my Twitter analytics dashboard.)
Batesole, B. (2017). Twitter for Business. Retrieved from lynda.com: https://www.lynda.com/Twitter-tutorials/Twitter-Business/480768-2.html
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Forrester Research, Inc.