I was recently asked by Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce to come up with five tips for using Twitter. No problem, I thought, that’s easy, but actually when I thought about it, it’s not as easy as it first seems to limit tips to just five, because there is so much to say about how to effectively use Twitter, particularly for business use.
In the end I jotted down my top tips and reduced them to the five that I thought would have the most impact for any business.
So the five I decided on were:
But, given the chance I would have also added the following, to take it up to 10:
The five tips for Bournemouth Chamber were literally the first five points above, as they were for a flyer for members (we’re actively using Twitter to promote the Chamber (@bmthchamber) to new and existing members), so limited on space, but here’s those 5 and my additional 5 in more detail.
1. Optimise your profile
It should go without saying, for your business to succeed online you need to ensure brand consistency across all channels, but you should also ensure you make full use of all the features available to your business within those channels for optimising your profile, such as adding a photo and header image, telling the world about yourself (i.e. a business biography) and your website URL. Setting up your profile information should be one of the first things you do when you set up a channel.
What you put in your profile information and how you do it, will depend on the social media channel you’re using, but as this article is about Twitter, here’s the key things you need to set up in Twitter
Twitter for Business explains each of these in a bit more detail and if you need help with optimum image sizes (for all social media channels in fact) then Visually has it wrapped up in a helpful infographic.
2. Tweet for your followers, not for you
A common social media mistake is to be too ‘salesy’ – people are becoming increasingly intolerant of being bombarded by marketing and sales messages so just pushing out ‘buy my services’ tweets will turn most your followers off. Instead find content to share that your followers would be interested in, for example:
But, most importantly of all, understand who it is your targeting on Twitter and tweet content they’ll be interested in.
3. Use @, # and RT to engage others
If you’re going to use Twitter effectively then it’s not just about pushing out your own content or reading other’s content in your Twitter feed, it’s also about engaging with other Twitter users.
Every time your mention (@) another user, they’ll get a notification in Twitter that you’ve mentioned them; when you retweet (RT) the original author of the tweet (plus anyone they mentioned) will also get a notification; and likewise if you favourite a tweet. If people get notifications of your actions, then you’ll have brought yourself to their attention (provided they look at their notifications, of course) and you never know, they could be your next customer or business partner.
Furthermore, if you use the right hash tags (#) then you’ll also bring yourself to the attention of other Twitter users. That’s because people search for, follow and have alerts set up for specific hashtags they’re interested in. If they’re interested in the hashtag and they see you’re interested in the same topic… Also, look out for organised hashtags and hashtag meetups and chats (e.g. #dorsethour, #purbeckhour) as well as topic related hashtags as these are a great way to engage with other Twitter users with very specific interests. If you want to find out which hashtags to use, I’d recommend hashtagify.me or just start typing the hash tag into the Twitter search bar.
4. Respond to everyone who engages
Just as you are using @ # and RT to engage with other Twitter users (maybe even via direct message), other Twitter users will be doing the same to you. Make sure you keep an eye on your notifications in Twitter and engage with people by following them back, thanking them for retweeting your tweets and most importantly responding to anyone who’s asking you a question, particularly if it relates to your business and services.
5. Use images in your tweets
The old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is as relevant to social media today as it was when it was coined in the early 20th century. If you use imagery in your tweets you’re more likely to get the attention of your followers over and above a straight forward text tweet.
Twitter’s own research last year showed that tweets with images got 35% more retweets than those without.
6. Tweet often and don’t be afraid to repeat your tweets
Think of Twitter as a large crowd of people all vying for each others attention. You’re just another user trying to be noticed, so don’t be afraid to tweet often each day and don’t be afraid to repeat content you’ve already tweeted – it may be the same message or perhaps slightly reworded, but definitely say it loud and say it proud!
There are differing views on how often your should tweet. Buffer suggests that engagement drops off if you tweet more than 3 times a day, whilst Marketing Donut suggests your should tweet up to five times. The key however is choose a frequency that works for you and your audience and as with any digital marketing strategy you need to do some testing and analysing of the results to be sure you’re getting it right. Personally, I tweet up to 10 times a day.
As for repeating your tweets there can be real value in repeating yourself both in terms of being heard (or your tweet seen) and in terms of engagements via Twitter. Buffer, the tool I use to schedule tweets, has a power schedule option which auto-suggests a repeated schedule which you can tweak to fit your own preferences – they’ve even shared an example grid of how often to share across various social media channels.
It’s also useful to have a strategy for mixing up your tweets. Again, there’s lots of different views about what ratio of your own content versus sales messages versus curated or shared content you should tweet – some say around 50% from others, 30% from you, 20% personal stuff, although I tend to use a 4:4:2 ratio myself and for ‘personal stuff’ that could be retweeting something not relevant to your business but something that should be of interest to your followers nonetheless.
7. Have a strategy in place to build up a following
You can’t just set up a Twitter count and expect people to start following you. Sure you’ll get a slow stream of followers (mainly via Twitter auto-suggesting you to other users whilst they’re using Twitter), but you need to proactively seek out accounts to follow, and the more users you follow, the more people will follow you. Whilst you can follow just about anyone and go about it without any kind of rhyme or reason, it’s best to have a strategy in place:
You can also attract followers by retweeting and favouriting other users’ tweets.
But, be warned there are ratio limits in place that restrict the number of users you can follow based on who’s following you. But you can use tools like Followerwonk and Tweepi to manage who you follow, to free up ‘space’ to follow new accounts.
8. Use Twitter lists to manage who you follow and their content
So you’re building up your following, your tweeting lots of times a day and upping your Twitter game, but how do you keep on top of the information overload that is the Twitter timeline, particularly to find the interesting content you actually want to read and perhaps retweet?
The answer is Twitter lists. Twitter lists serve various purposes:
9. Use the right tools
When using Twitter (or any online system for that matter) you need to make sure you have the right tools in place to both access Twitter and also manage your use of it. I’ve mentioned a couple already, but I’d suggest looking at these:
10. Use Twitter regularly
Finally, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
If you don’t make use of Twitter it’s not going to work for your business – you need to invest time and effort in building your Twitter following, producing content that matters to your followers and checking back regularly as well as measuring the results and having an appropriate digital marketing strategy that incorporates Twitter.