Twitter has been around since 2006, and so you would be forgiven for thinking that most businesses and marketing people have got the hang of it by now. However, when we talk to clients we discover that many of them are still confused about how to use it and, in particular, how to get started.
Is Twitter Right For Your Business?
First things first, with over 300 million monthly active users, and roughly 5 million tweets per day - that's about 6,000 tweets per second - Twitter is still a valuable business platform. It's almost certainly worth investigating for your business, but before you decide to go for it, you need to check your buyer personas. If they use Twitter then you need to be there. If they don't then you need to think again... perhaps you are also targeting influencers or referrers who use it. If none of your audiences use Twitter then it's only going to be of benefit when you want to check the local traffic or find out what Justin Bieber is up to.
Why Are You Using It?
It helps to decide on your objectives - why you are there. The most common reason for using any social media is for awareness/visibility/brand building. Another reason is to drive traffic to your website as a means of generating engagement and leads. alternatively you may want to use it for customer service or for broadcasting certain information such as news or updates.
So now you know why you are using it, let's get down to how.
Before you start, make sure you have uploaded a profile picture and completed your bio so that people know why they should follow you.
Now add a few useful, original tweets. Try some brief tips, advice, links to useful info on your website. That way any potential followers can see what to expect.
Following and Followers
Now you're ready to start following people. There are plenty of ways to find accounts to follow.
Check out Twitter's Who to follow suggestions
Follow your customers
Follow your suppliers
Follow your competitors
Follow your contacts in the industry
Follow influencers, thought leaders and gurus in your field
Follow industry news accounts
You can also look at who these people are following - it's all public.
And yes, you can follow a few celebrities, if you must, but keep it under control or you will lose sight of why you are really there.
If you have your bio and profile picture and a few initial tweets in place, the chances are some of these will follow you back. The others (gurus, news feeds etc) should be a useful source of material to retweet. Don't get hung up on the number of followers you have. The quality is more important. If a few of your key prospects see your tweets you've done a good job.
Remember to link to your Twitter account from your website, email and mention it on your business cards and brochures.
Next, find yourself a way of managing your Twitter account as it can be quite bewildering at first sight. We prefer Hootsuite, but there are several options including Buffer, Tweetdeck and Sprout Social that also work well. You can see your mentions, lists, direct messages etc side by side to make it easier to identify what's important. You can also schedule tweets in advance to help with time management and ensure you have a consistent presence.
Now set yourself a target of how many times you want to tweet per day. Two, three, twenty? It doesn't really matter so long as you have a steady trickle of tweets and you are meeting your objectives.
The trick is to get a good balance of content:
- retweets of useful information
- tips and advice
- links to useful content on your site
- links to useful content on other (non-competing) sites
- sales messages (with care, only do this occasionally)
- and conversations...the social in social media
If you want to make the best use of Twitter, take time to be social. Have conversations with people, answer their questions, ask questions, comment on tweets. If you want to get noticed you need to make the effort, from retweeting something from one of your customers, to going out of your way to help someone.
When you get to the stage of following hundreds of people, and missing the tweets you want to see, it's a good idea to set up lists to organise your stream.
The only thing you have to do now, is keep going. Be consistent, be helpful and speak to people. That's it. Happy tweeeting!