This training is designed to give you a general introduction to Twitter and its relevance to marketing before setting you off on your path to your first 100 followers.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social network based around the basic concept of sharing 140 character status updates with the world and developing your own personal network of connections. Your twitter account is linked to your public username which can both follow and be followed by other accounts. Your account is typically represented as @username with username being your actual username, e.g. mine would be @danielmcclure.
The benefits of Twitter for business has been breaking down the barriers of traditional broadcast communications and allowing for a two-way dialogue with customers as well as fostering community among your business users and developing a real personality around your brand on a neutral platform with one bite-sized message at a time.
Famous brands such as Google and McDonald's are on Twitter, celebrities, politicians, etc are on Twitter but so are relatively unknown companies, general professionals, 9-5ers, slackers, teens and probably a few of the people who live on your street. Twitter connects everyone and it is fairly easy to reach out to pretty much anyone on the network making it an attractive medium for marketers.
The Four Modes of Twitter Communication
When you tweet something it goes out to the world. Anyone who can view your profile can see your message and anybody that has decided to “Follow” your account will see the tweet appear in their Twitter feed. As the Twitter feed updates in real-time and the average user follows a lot of different people you will find the most interaction with your tweets when you first post and activity will gradually decline over time unless you take steps to promote the tweet elsewhere.
Whenever you see a tweet you will also have the ability to “ReTweet” or re-broadcast the message that somebody else has posted to your audience. This can act as an endorsement or simple way to share interesting content. It can also be a way to get noticed by people who you want to connect with if used sparingly and with a human element such as commentary or follow-up tweets discussing the content with the other user. Even if you don't want to connect with the user themselves for one reason or another, you can retweet some of their tweets to align yourself with their topic and demonstrate your market awareness.
This is what drives most of the community interactions on Twitter and is a public message typically directed at a specific individual. If you start a tweet with a mention then it is considered more direct than simply including a person's username within the tweet. Mentions not only appear in a users feed but they also generate a notification to the user so they are a powerful way to get the attention of someone as long as they are used wisely.
When you send a direct message or DM you are communicating directly with another user and as such they are they only people that view your message. As this is a more personal interaction the other user will need to actually be “Following” you already and in doing so they will have implicitly approved your sending them DMs. There are also some web applications that use DMs to facilitate various services across the web such as tweeting to add tasks to a To-Do list or getting travel updates on a specific route.
The Magnifying Power of the #Hashtag
Whilst hashtags, which are themed words or phrases attached to the “#” symbol are used in many places on the web arguably the biggest influence on their usage has been Twitter. When you include a #hashtag with you tweet, you are indicating that your tweet is in relation to a specific topic or event. For example a tweet that mentions #Travel or the #SuperBowl is likely to get the attention of people who are actively searching Twitter for information relating to those events.
If you don't have a wide network and are looking to connect with the wider community on a specific topic, hashtags can often be the easiest way in by tagging your tweets with hashtags that are already used by large numbers of Twitter users. The one caveat to this is that broader topics with more people tweeting will cycle through very quickly so your voice can easily get drowned out by the noise. To have a real impact you will want to use hashtags that are very specific and have a small but dedicated following whilst occasionally joining trending conversations if you want to reach a wider audience.
You can also attempt to generate conversation around a specific topic by deciding on your own branded hashtag such as #MarketingMonday however to get people to adopt your hashtag and create a meaningful community it can take a lot of effort and you still might not find success so it is out of the scope of this particular training.
Connecting With Your Audience Community
It is important to remember that behind every account (the ones you actually want to connect with anyway) there is a real living breathing person. They will have their own reasons for using Twitter and in all likelihood it isn't so they can buy your stuff. It is to be part of something; a larger community, to connect with their interests, to hear the latest news and/or gossip or just to be entertained in their lunch break. Whatever the reason, you will benefit from taking some time to identify some companies who are already tweeting in your space to see not only how they interact with their audience but also how a sample of their followers are interacting with Twitter on a regular basis. This will begin to give you some clues to the kind of things that engage your target audience in Twitter and you can emulate elements whilst working to build your own voice on the platform.
Often when you are a new voice on the platform, the easiest way to start interacting if by sharing relevant and interesting content from people who your ideal audience are already aware of. If you can join the conversation from a place that they identify with by sharing links from their favourite news sources with your own commentary whilst also sharing related and interesting information from your own and other sources you will be able to build up trust over time. The last thing you want to do is alienate people by simply linking to all of your products time after time as you will end up simply speaking to yourself. When you remember there are real people behind the screen, it is all about treating others as you would like to be treated. If we find someone generally interesting and they provide value over a long time you are more likely to be interested in the products they develop and recommend.
Getting Your First Followers
As Twitter is community driven the easiest way to start building out your own personal network is by finding interesting people within your audience as described in the previous section and simply following them yourself. In many cases you will find that people will follow you back because they get notifications about new followers and your account looked interesting enough to follow. One warning at this stage is that your follower/following ratio is strictly monitored by Twitter and if you follow a large number of accounts without anyone following you back, you are likely to get flagged as a potential SPAM account. Try not to follow more than 100 users as a rough guide at the start before you have started to build up a following yourself.
You will also want to cover the basics of building an audience on pretty much any social network by connecting with the people you already have a relationship with in some way. you can email your existing customers, announce your Twitter arrival on other social networks, place Twitter widgets and icons on your website.
If you are truly looking at your Twitter activity as an investment in your business you may also want to experiment with Twitter advertising, however this can be more useful when you have got to grips with the basics of Twitter and are ready to scale rather than when you are first finding your feet.
Twitter Marketing Tip for WordPress Users: You can actually copy the link for a Tweet and paste it on its own line on your website in the post editor and when you publish the page or post it will automatically embed your tweet. This can be useful for commenting on news-worthy tweets and collecting testimonials about your products.
Branding Your Twitter Profile
We all know that first impressions count and your Twitter profile is no different. At the very least you will want to get yourself set up with a recognisable profile photo that will appear next to all of your tweets. If you are aiming to build your personal brand then this will likely be a professional quality yet relaxed image of yourself.
On the other hand if you are aiming to build a pure business profile that is directly related to your brand or a website you may choose to use your brand logo. Generally speaking it will be easier to make genuine connections with a more personal profile picture unless you are already a recognisable and trusted brand in your marketplace.
The second step is to set yourself up with an evocative header image. This is seen on your profile and will be seen at multiple sizes on websites, desktop software and mobile apps, so you need to pick something that is not too detailed and will be impactful at any size. If you are a photographer or you have a very visual product, this is a great place to feature some of your work however if you sell services or technology you may need to get a little more creative. If you get stuck you can use simple textures from SubtlePatterns to get started however personalisation is key and in some cases it may even be better to use quality stock photography than nothing at all.
Twitter Marketing Power Tools
Eventually you will probably want to go beyond the limits of what you can do by yourself alone and start to build a more developed Twitter marketing strategy. This is where the power tools will help you to succeed. Whilst there are several tools with large monthly ticket prices; I have personally used several of them and I still prefer the ones designed for smaller businesses, professional teams s or prosumers (professional consumers).
Almost-Automated Content Curation via BufferApp
As you will have learned your Tweets will typically have the biggest impact directly after they have been posted to your profile. There it makes sense that to reach the largest amount of people you would be constantly posting to your Twitter account around the clock all week-long. Whilst this might be fine for dedicated social media agencies or large enterprises with a dedicated team it is pretty impractical for people that actually have an entire business to run.
That is where BufferApp comes in; you can either manually select times that your audience is likely to be online or use a tool like Tweriod to analyse your existing follower base and then decide how many times you would like to post per day. From this point on you can install the BufferApp to your browser and connect it with your social media accounts so that whenever you find content that your audience may find interesting, you can compose a tweet or status update (it works with Facebook and others too) on the fly and it will automatically queue to post in your next free slot so you have a constant stream of updates going out around the clock as long as you have new posts in the queue.
Multi-User Multi-Account Management & Hashtag Tracking via Hootsuite
The second power tool I would recommend if you end up managing multiple twitter accounts, say your personal account and your company account, is Hootsuite. It allows you to easily jump between accounts, schedule tweets in advance and even have multiple users administer a single Twitter account.
You can also use it to track hashtags that are related to topics your audience is interested in and for social mentions of your company so that you can quickly respond wherever you are. It is a powerful dashboard for interacting with Twitter an easily rivals a lot of the much more expensive social media tools for a fraction of the price. If you feel that the standard Twitter website and apps simply aren't cutting it anymore then this is the tool you will probably want to use.
Tracking Account Health With TwitterCounter & Followerwonk
You will hear many experts denouncing the follow count and whilst it is true that it means nothing on its own, it can be a useful indicator of problems if you notice your account rapidly decreasing and it can be useful to track how your account grows over time in relation to your activity. However what is most important for a business will be getting the right kind of followers and engaging with them in a meaningful way. Whilst there is no killer app I'm aware of that will tell you that you're doing the right thing, you can use TwitterCounter to keep track of your actual follower growth and FollowerWonk to analyse your accounts followers to check that you are attracting the right kind of followers i.e. people that would actually have an interest in your business. On the flip side if you know that you followers are interested and buying, perhaps via s support account, FollowerWonk can be a useful tool to find out more detailed demographic information of your audience.
- Twitter for Business | Best Practices
- Twitter Advertising Portal
- Hootsuite Social Media Tool
- BufferApp Scheduling Tool
- Tweriod – Discover when your followers are on Twitter
- Twitter Counter – Follow Reports
- FollowerWonk – Follower Analysis
- How to write the perfect tweet
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