Cut the clutter on Twitter with these tips from Pole Position Marketing’s Kathy Gray. Learn how to effectively use this social media platform for your business to build one-on-one relationships with customers, as well as boost brand awareness.
In this webinar, you’ll learn:
- How Twitter differs from other social networks.
- Critical steps to take BEFORE you set up a business profile.
- Which metrics to track and how.
- The rule of thirds and how it applies to your activity on Twitter.
- The ins and outs of scheduling tweets.
- Tools of the trade.
- And more.
Speaker: Kathy Gray
Watch Time: 19:02
Download “What the Tweet?!? Using Twitter to Accelerate Your Business” slides on SlideShare
Hello, this is Kathy Gray, Brand Engagement Strategist at Pole Position Marketing. Today we’re going to be talking about effectively using Twitter for your business.
Next to Snapchat, Twitter is probably one of the least understood social networks. For many people, the quick moving stream of updates confuses them. Twitter is like a cocktail party. There are 100 different conversations taking place all around you, but you only want to focus on the people who are talking in your little circle. It’s the same on Twitter, where there are millions of conversations happening on the network. The key is focusing in on those that are most meaningful to you.
The real power in Twitter comes from being able to build one-on-one relationships. It’s the easiest network for a brand to start interaction directly with the customer. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re going to get distracted by all of the noise. Let’s take a look at the steps to build a strategy.
First, you need to decide what your goals and objectives are. What are you hoping to achieve, and how does that impact your business’s bottom line? Who are the customers you are looking to connect with? What are their demographics? What words and phrases do they use? What media do they follow? What associations do they belong to?
Next, you want to outline exactly how you’re going to build a relationship with your customers and then how you will measure the success. What are your goals and objectives? If you don’t know what your goals are, how do you know what to post and where to post it? Are you trying to build brand awareness, get more coverage for your brand on industry websites, resolve customer service issues, or manage your brand’s reputation? Do you want to position yourself or your business as a thought leader in your industry? Are you looking to increase traffic to your website or sales and leads? All of these business goals can be supported by social media, but you need to determine which ones are the most important to your business. Start your strategy with one or two goals.
We have our goals and know what we want to achieve, but who are the people we want to achieve those goals with? You need to know who your audience is and understand them. What are their demographics? Where do they work? What’s their job title? What are their interests? For B2B, these interests could be associations they belong to or industry publications they read. For B2C, these interests may be hobbies and activities that a larger percent of your audience actively participates in. For a winter clothing company, these might be skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc. What are their goals and challenges related to your product or service? What words or phrases do they use to talk about their interest or industry? How do they describe themselves? Fans of the TV show “Outlander” may refer to themselves as an Outlander fan, but the uber fan or the super fan might refer to themselves a Heughligan, an Obsessenach, or a Lady of Lallybroch.
You know your goals and who you are targeting to achieve those goals. How are you going to build the relationship with them? You want to share content that is right, relevant, interesting, timely, and educational or entertaining. It doesn’t have to hit all of these, but it should hit at least two. Here’s one of the most famous selfies ever taken. This post hit all four points. It was relevant to what was happening that night on social media and in the entertainment world. It was interesting, it was timely, and it was entertaining. As social media evolves, timely becomes increasingly important. Think the Oreo tweet during the lights out at the Super Bowl. People crave real time relevant content.
Your activity on Twitter should follow the rule of thirds. The fast-paced nature of Twitter requires more frequent posting than any other network, but this doesn’t mean you should be posting 15 self-promotional posts per day. One-third of your posts should be your own content. This includes blog posts, infographics, photos, videos that are about your products or services. Another one-third of your posts should be curated content. This would include industry news, articles, and other content or topics related to your products and services. The final third of your posting should be direct engagement. This could be joining Twitter chats relevant to your industry product or service, directly responding users who tweet about you, or to people who are talking about a problem your product or service solves.
You also need to determine your brand’s voice. Are you going to be quirky and snarky like Taco Bell or Old Spice? Depending on your brand, that type of voice may not fit. Just because you’re on social media doesn’t mean you need to be cool and hip if it doesn’t fit your brand. Maybe your voice is more educational like NASA. They aren’t always tweeting about their missions. They often share educational content that relates to their missions and what they do as an organization.
Finally, how are you going to determine if your efforts are successful? There are a plethora of metrics you can look at, but you really need to focus in on only a handful that are most important to your business. To determine which ones are most important, go back to your goals. If your primary goal is website traffic, will brand mentions show you how many referral visits you’re getting from social media? No. You need to track your referral traffic in Google Analytics. However, if your goal is brand awareness, brand mentions will be a very important metric to track.
How are we going to track the metrics? For Twitter-based metrics, Twitter offers analytics, and you can also obtain metrics through scheduling tools like HootSuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social. My favorite tool for tracking metrics is TrueSocialMetrics. Not only does it allow me to track my own Twitter metrics, but also those of my competitive set. It also allows you to look at relative metrics. If my competitor has 100,000 followers and receives on average of 100 retweets per post and I have 50,000 followers and receive on average 80 retweets per post, whose posts are resonating better with their followers? Mine are. If we look at the number of retweets relative to the number of followers, a higher percentage of my followers are engaged than those of my competitors. Relative metrics gives us a way to compare apples to apples when follower counts are different between accounts. High follower counts are meaningless if those followers aren’t engaging with your brand.
For website-related metrics, you can use Google Analytics, possibly your e-commerce software, and if you’re brick-and-mortar and offer coupon valid online or in-store, you’re going to want to track redemptions in both places.
Our strategy is set. It’s time to start joining the conversation. One thing I recommend with any business looking at any new social media platform is to start with your own account before you jump in and create a business account. Get your feet wet with the personal account. Learn how to use all of the features of the network, participate in chats, engage with other users, and get a feel for the platform as a regular user before using it as a business. This will help you understand what users are looking for. Learn the lingo. What the heck does RT mean? Did you know that if you start a tweet with someone else’s Twitter handle, only that person and users who follow both of your accounts will see those tweets? If that’s not your intent, put a period before the handle so that it can be seen in all of your followers’ feeds. If you see an acronym or something else you’re not sure of, Google it. Again, it’s better to learn this in advance on a personal account before you mess up and @reply to a consumer with a message that really should have been a private DM.
When creating your business account, use your business name as your username when possible. If your business name is longer than 15 characters, you’re going to have to abbreviate. That’s what we had to do. We took Pool Position Marketing to PolePositionMkg. Don’t abbreviate so much that your Twitter handle becomes hard for users to remember or easy to misspell. Also, avoid the use of hyphens and special characters.
Your bio is limited to 160 characters, so you need to be succinct about what your company does and work in a benefit or competitive advantage. Your profile photo should be a square version of your logo. You want an image that is quick and easy to associate with your brand at a tiny size in someone’s feed. Keep your header unique, simple, and clean. Online tools like PicMonkey and Canva can help you easily design this.
Now we need to find our audience and start engaging with them. Once you start following people on Twitter, your feed can become overwhelming, and it’s easy to miss important conversations you need to be taking part of. This is where Twitter’s underutilized but very powerful feature, Lists, comes into play. Lists can be set as public or private. You can also add users to lists that you don’t follow. What kind of list might you want to create as a business? Maybe it’s current customers, sales reps or distributors of your product. It could be sales leads, thought leaders or bloggers in your industry. Maybe it’s employees, influencers from certain other industries related to yours. I often create lists for our clients of publications in their industry or editors of publications in their industry. You may also want a list for industry association tweets. Keep an eye on your competition by adding them to a private list. You don’t have to publicly follow them, and as long as your list is private, they won’t know it even exists.
When you start following people, you want to be judicious. A popular tactic to grow your own followers is by following people. While this can help increase your followers, you want to have a plan and not be spammy about it. Follow other users slowly over time. Start with those accounts you know you should be following, like industry associations or valued customers, and expand from there.
This is a big question. Should you follow back? Do you follow everyone who follows you? Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean you have to follow them back. Only follow someone back if you’re truly interested in starting a conversation with them.
You can find your audience using Twitter’s advanced search feature. You may not know who the bloggers in your industry are or who on Twitter is already talking about your product or service. Use the profile we created earlier for your ideal customer to search for those customers on Twitter. There are paid and free options available with Followerwonk, but you can use the free version to do some searching. Again, use the profile we’ve created to search for your audience.
In this example, I’m searching for small group leaders in Ohio, and it finds three results. I can then decide which of these accounts I should follow or add to list. I could also try to find employees of a company by adding their URL. Another way to find your audience is by looking at you competitor’s followers or leaders in your industry. You can then use a tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to monitor your Twitter lists and engage with those people.
You can also use Hootsuite or TweetDeck to monitor keyword searches. Before coming to Pole Position Marketing, I worked for the Convention of Visitors Bureau for the Canton, Ohio area. Canton is home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of the largest tourist attractions in the area. A lot of people talk about their visits to the Pro Football Hall of Fame while on Twitter. And one of our goals was to get those visitors to not just come to the Hall and leave, but come to the Hall and then go eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, and visit other attractions in the area. But when people talk about their visits on Twitter, they don’t type out Pro Football Hall of Fame. They’ll refer to it as Hall of Fame or HOF. So I had a keyword search column that filtered all Tweets that included Hall of Fame or HOF. Now, there would occasionally be some posts for the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Basketball Hall of Fame. You have to strike a balance between not being too specific but also getting too many irrelevant tweets showing up in your feed.
In addition to finding your audience and starting one-on-one conversations with them, you’ll also want to retweet those audience members most important to you. It makes them feel like you’re truly interested in them. You also want to retweet brand mentions like this one from Sharpie and content shared by others that is relevant to your followers.
Participating in Twitter chats is another great way to engage your audience. You can find Twitter chats through websites like TweetChat, but more often once you start following other people in your industry or niche, you’ll happen upon them. There is usually a moderator for the chat who will ask the questions and then anyone is free to respond with their answers, and you can interact with the other users and their comments. TweetChat is also a very useful tool for participating in Twitter chats. It allows you to enter the hashtag for your chat and then gives you a custom feed of the activity for that hashtag. You can tweet right from the same screen within TweetChat and it automatically includes the hashtag for the chat you are participating in.
Now that you’re engaging with other people, it’s time to start sharing your own content. Don’t forget the rule of thirds. It’s not all about you and your business. And don’t forget to share great content that is relevant, interesting, timely, and educational or entertaining.
Use hashtags sparingly. You don’t need a hashtag in every tweet and you don’t want to use more than one or two in a given tweet. There’s also branded hashtags, and that’s a good option for brands like Starbucks who uses the hashtag #PSL, and that’s for their pumpkin spice latte. They do this every fall. We know it’s the same hashtag every year, and users and customers of theirs are familiar with this, and they add it to their images.
Find great content to share. A third of your content should come from content curation. Where are you going to find relevant content to share? You can use your list of media in your industry or influencers to find great content. Look at relevant hashtags or keywords, follow blogs that are relevant to your audience and industry. Some news outlets and magazines offer newsletters, and these can be good sources of content. Pinterest, Delicious, AllTop are other options.
One of my favorite tools is Nuzzel. You can use their web-based service or they can send you a daily email with curated content around the topics you and your followers are interested in. I found the suggested content to be spot on.
There are articles of plenty out there giving suggestions on the best time to share, but those are just averages and it really depends on your audience. This is another time when Followerwonk can be a big help. You can get a chart which shows exactly when your followers are most active and you can plan your posting times accordingly. It also integrates with Buffer to easily create a schedule for your tweets.
You want to schedule your content with caution. Scheduling content can be a great time saver, but if you’re going to do it, make sure you’re staying on top of current events. The first example of tweets gone wrong is Celeb Boutique who is using someone out of the country to schedule and update their account. #Aurora was trending on Twitter because of the movie theater shooting in Colorado. Clearly, it wasn’t about their Kim K-inspired Aurora dress. And Epicurious had the first tweet scheduled at the time of the Boston Marathon. Their tweet went out right after the bombing and many saw it as insensitive. If you’re scheduling tweets, make sure you know how to unschedule them. This is one reason why I love Buffer. I can remove the day from the schedule and my tweets get automatically pushed to the next day and then I can just re-select that date for publishing when the crisis is over.
Let’s take a look at content scheduling tools. Buffer and Hootsuite are the two most popular scheduling tools out there. In my opinion, Buffer is a much easier option and allows for more control over your schedule and then super simple scheduling by just adding content to your Buffer queue. You can also connect Buffer with your Bitly account for better link tracking.
The one advantage Hootsuite has is that it is also a monitoring tool, and you just can’t do that with Buffer. However, you can integrate Buffer with TweetDeck and other monitoring tools like Mention. It may come down to personal taste. Try them both out on their free plan to see which platform suits you better.