In her best-selling book, The Zen of Social Media Marketing, Zen Media Group founder & CEO Shama Kabani calls Twitter “The Grand Bazaar of Social Networking Sites” because it really does have something for everyone. If your business is already using Twitter, we’ve got some tips that will help you maximize your results this year. And if you’re not already using Twitter, the question is, “Why not?”
Why Bother with Twitter?
In a nutshell, the reason your business should bother with Twitter is because it delivers results. Twitter users fall into every demographic category, and it’s the fastest way to get your message into the hands of a truly huge, global audience. Twitter has over a half-billion users, and continues to be one of the fastest growing social networking sites.
Just after midnight on New Year’s Day – January 1, 2013 – Twitter reached a new record volume with 6,939 tweets per second. How do you make your 140-character (or less) message stand out in that flood of information? The same way you cut through the clutter of messages in any other medium: by delivering interesting, valuable content that people want to see.
The Basics: Start With a Great Profile
Twitter profiles, unlike Facebook pages, are limited to 160 characters including just one web link, and a photo. You can use your brand or company name if it’s well known, but if you’re a smaller company just starting out in social media, you might be better off going with a human being’s name and photo instead (or at least in addition). “Co-handles” – names that combine the name of the individual and the company, such as Blanca-NikeVP or Steve-AcmeCEO – are often the best solution, because it makes it clear that the tweets are coming from a human being speaking for the company and gives your messages a more personal, relatable touch.
Let’s face it; people like to be friends with other people. Twitter profiles that feature clear photographs of smiling people are more popular than profiles that feature logos or graphics, and a good quality headshot can help your Twitter account attract followers more quickly.
How to Make the Most of Twitter
Think of Twitter as a global human search engine. It is completely what you make of it. Shama tells this story in her book: “I was scheduled to speak to a group of CEOs at an organization called Vistage that I had never spoken to before. The group’s host had forewarned me that this could be a tough crowd because they often really grilled their speakers. Hearing this, I did a quick search on Twitter for “Vistage Speakers” and found five. Using the @ sign, I asked them if they had any recommendations. Within two minutes, I had a variety of responses like “use statistics and case studies” and “Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.” Folks I had never met before—one in China—were wishing me well.”
What do you want to achieve on Twitter? Naturally, you want to tell people about your business, and what services or products you offer. But if all you do is promote things you sell, you won’t get nearly as much out of Twitter as if you actively participate in the community and use it as a source of information, support, inspiration, and daily motivation, too.
Formulating a Winning Strategy
The most important Twitter technique is to formulate a strategy. Start by writing a list of keywords to search for on Twitter, including industry occupations and glossary terms that will help you find Twitter users in your industry (such as businesses, organizations, trade associations), people who tweet about your industry (media/industry journalists, bloggers, consultants, authors), and your competitors.
Once you have researched your primary keywords, popular competitors, and industry associations, take a look at the information you have. Who are the leading voices in your industry following – and who is following them? What lists are they on? What kinds of information are they tweeting (and retweeting)? If you think that your audience has a high overlap with theirs, your strategy might be to get involved in these pre-existing conversation streams.
Whether your audience overlaps with your competitors or not, once you understand what kinds of information and conversations are out there already, you’re in a better position to build or refine your own Twitter marketing strategy. Ask yourself:
- What information will you provide?
- Where will you find people interested in your product or service?
- How will you create a consistent posting strategy?
- What tools will you use to assist in the daily management of your Twitter account?
Don’t be afraid to get help from an experienced agency – you’ll probably be surprised at how cost effective it can be to work with us! And don’t forget to download the free resources you’ll find in our Info Center.