Twitter. It’s been around for more than 15 years and has in the region of 145m daily active users – which is roughly the same as the population of Russia. With such a large user base, it’s hardly surprising that you may be tempted to use Twitter for business. It has the potential to raise brand awareness and grow your online community.
If you’re not sure where to begin, this article provides key information about the platform alongside practical advice and tips to help you get started.
Twitter started life in 2006 as a ‘microblogging’ platform. It was designed as a space for users to share their thoughts in 140 characters or fewer.
The character limit increased to 280 characters in 2017, allowing users more freedom to express themselves. This has been further enhanced by the introduction of threaded tweets. These allow users to join multiple tweets together on one thread in order to create a longer post.
Of course, tweets don’t have to be text-based. You can add images, gifs and links to your updates, so they stand out in the news feed.
Plus, there is additional functionality in the form of polls. Polls allow users to vote on a question over five minutes or seven days, depending on how much data you want to gather.
And, like most social media platforms, you can use Twitter to live stream your activity in the moment. To increase reach, Twitter notifies your audience the second you go live, so it’s a great way to raise awareness with your audience.
As already mentioned, there’s a huge potential audience for your business.
According to Statista, there are 16.7m Twitter users in the UK alone.* Your business has the potential to reach many of these people, making them aware of your brand and encouraging them to convert into customers.
As with other social networks, it’s free to start using Twitter. In fact, you can achieve great reach and engagement levels with organic posts alone.
Of course, you can use paid advertising on Twitter, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll be focusing on organic activity.
Twitter – like most social media platforms – is a great place to give your brand personality.
Unlike your website, Twitter isn’t static; your brand can respond and comment on updates like a real person in real time, so you can interact more freely. Just make sure you have some guidelines in place for your team so they stay on brand.
Social media is a great platform for demonstrating your attitude towards customer service.
If users have questions or complaints, your business can respond quickly and in public, showing your responsiveness in real-time.
Before you do anything, consider the type of account you want to create. Do you want a corporate, branded account, or an account for a member of your leadership team?
When you’ve made up your mind, be sure to give the account a distinctive name and an easy to remember handle (the bit that follows the @ symbol), so users can find you.
For a corporate account, use your company logo for the profile picture; for the personal account, use a professional headshot.
Be sure that the individual account doesn’t mimic the corporate account. It must be clear to users which is the official company account, so you don’t lose potential followers to an individual member of the team.
The more you use Twitter the better, in our opinion. Your account will appear in news feeds more frequently and stand a better chance of appearing in search results. Plus, if users believe you’ll regularly share useful or entertaining content, they’ll be more likely to follow you.
If you don’t have time to tweet every day, try scheduling updates. Take an hour once a week to plot some updates in the diary using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
This means your account remains active, without having a full social media team behind you.
As with all marketing, beware the hard sell.
It’s fine to promote your business every now and again, but social media users don’t want to be bombarded with sales messages.
Mix up your content for the best results. Alongside company updates, you could ask your audience for their opinions on topics using questions and polls. You could also share interesting industry updates, client news and answers to other users’ questions. Videos and images also add variety to your feed.
As highlighted in the point above, sharing others’ content can help mix up your feed. But use this in combination with Likes and comments to stand out. After all, the key word in ‘social media’ is ‘social’.
One of the keys to Twitter success is the deployment of hashtags.
Hashtags help your audience find you. Put simply, they may search for the term and discover you as part of a conversation.
For instance, if we wanted to be discovered by small businesses, we may use the hashtags #smallbiz or #smallbizmarketing to reach that audience.
At times, your Twitter feed may start to feel overwhelming. This is where Twitter Lists come in.
Lists can be both private and public and allow you to monitor specific accounts. For instance, you might want to create a private list of your clients, so you can engage with them on a regular basis. Or you might create a list of your competitors, so you can monitor their activity.
Whatever you choose, lists can streamline your social media use.
To make monitoring mentions, Lists and hashtags easier, we recommend setting up a dashboard in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
Both of these tools allow you to create ‘columns’ for specific information. You could have a column for your client list, or for that small business hashtag you’re following, for example. It allows you to see current activity at a glance, without having to hop between pages.
Trending Topics refer to the content that’s most discussed on Twitter. If there’s a news story breaking, this tends to appear in the Trending Topics as people start to discuss it.
It’s a good idea to check in with the Trending Topics list during the day. If something relevant to your business starts to trend, you can add to the conversation and demonstrate your expertise.
Remember to be sensitive to the news. There have been widely publicised accounts of businesses getting it wrong. Way back in 2011, for instance, Kenneth Cole responded to the protests in Egypt with a tweet about their sale. Needless to say, the internet was not impressed.
We’re a big fan of Twitter Chats and believe these are more or less responsible for the organic growth of our inNorfolk account. They are a great way to engage with relevant new accounts and raise your profile.
Twitter Chats are designed for users to discuss specific topics at specific times. They are usually created by one or two Twitter users, who create a unique hashtag that helps them to follow the conversation.
The Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, for instance, recently launched #NorfolkChamberHour between 2pm and 3pm to stimulate conversations amongst local businesses during the coronavirus lockdown.
To take part, monitor the hashtag by creating a column in your dashboard. Then, simply comment when appropriate, using the hashtag at the end of your tweet.
If you want to make significant gains on Twitter, we recommend monitoring your performance.
Once a month, visit your Twitter Analytics. This will tell you the reach of your activity (how many accounts saw your tweets) and the average engagement. You can also see which posts were most successful, so you can monitor engagement.
If there are trends, can you replicate them? For instance, if your tweets with a particular hashtag perform well, can you use this hashtag more?
This analysis will help you understand what your audience likes and ensure future growth.
These are only some of the ways you can use Twitter – there are many more. If you need help getting started or growing your audience, drop us a line. We’d love to help your business use Twitter!
*Figures correct at publication
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