Tweeting to the Unconverted

Twitter can help you grow your business but it takes planning, time and money.  Use this brief but comprehensive guide to find out if it’s the right tool for you, and how to use it effectively in 2019.

What is Twitter good for?

Twitter’s own surveys found that the main reason people come to Twitter is to “discover something new”.  It’s therefore a good channel to launch your products or updates on, and give tantalising previews.

Twitter is also somewhere people go for conversation, so use this channel to speak to your customers to find out what they like/don’t like and want from your products, problems you can answer, or their pain points that you can develop your product to solve. Interacting with your customers can develop your product to solve. Interacting with your customers  also shows you value them and generates customer loyalty.

Twitter users are the top social media online buyers and buyers through mobiles. 

It’s good for B2B businesses via the networking hours, which are arranged by industry or locality.  These can be a good way of gaining brand awareness amongst other businesses.  Some are topic based, allowing you to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the subject.  Because you actually talk to the other participants, it can be a lot more effective than Tweeting into the ether.

Twitter is not good for reaching younger or older audiences – the main age demographic is 35-64.

Strategy for Twitter

Set goals

As Sprout Social says, “setting social media goals is necessary for any network that you take on. If you don’t have goals, then you don’t have metrics and that leads to sporadic posts. Choose three to focus on. Any more will divide your time and affect your focus. “The more common goals for Twitter include:
  • Increase direct sales
  • Become a customer support channel
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Track industry trends”

Optimise your account

To optimise your account, as with all social media accounts, fill in every field of your profile with the aim of demonstrating your focus and why people should follow you (the classic “what’s in it for me?”). If your business name is already taken as a handle, avoid adding underscores or numbers (yes I know I did it – letting it dictate @dipitus2 – I set it up without researching/thinking!).

Instead add something:

  • more descriptive eg your industry “dipitusmarketing” or your location “dipitusuk” (though that can be read very rudely, but I went with it on Instagram);
  • more official eg “Official” or “HQ” eg “suedehq”; or
  • instructive eg “Get” or “Get on” eg “getcodeless” for Codeless or “getongab” for Gab.

Pin a Tweet and change it regularly so it’s current.  It should be your current initiative, your best content etc.  To do this find the tweet you want to pin and click the drop-down arrow at the top right to bring up the menu options.

How to optimise your Twitter account

How to Tweet

It’s not easy to be seen on Twitter so frequent posting is good, and you can re-use your posts.  Don’t be too obviously repetitive, however, in case someone does see a lot of your posts in their feeds, or if someone is looking at your feed. Try to have 19 different posts each week, but you can then repeat some of these each week. Remember you can post more than one Tweet at a time – multi Tweets can go out simultaneously if you have a long announcement or want to post a set of images together. Twitter’s algorithm will reward you by showing your Tweets on feeds when you share content your audience engages with.  It penalises you if you don’t get any engagement on your Tweets. Follow relevant, high quality accounts whose Tweets you can Retweet to fill your account with good content.  They may follow you back and RT your Tweets if they make the grade. Also source relevant industry news and other’s blog posts.  Tweet 3-4 other’s tweets for every 1 of your own. Your own Tweets need to get engagement so use them to initiate and engage in conversations with other relevant accounts rather than broadcasting self-promotional statements.  Keep the user age demographic in mind when choosing your Tweet subject and linguistic style.

table showing social media platform usage in the UK by age

Use handles in your posts where you can involve a particular account so that you get seen on their feed and are more likely to get engagement from them such as a comment, like or RT. Keep all your Tweets and Retweets on-brand.  Remember to add comments to RTs, and @ the original author or any other accounts that might want to join the conversation. Twitter advises: “Don’t be afraid to alter your usual brand guidelines to create a more bold and human sounding Twitter.”  Campaigns that are cheeky or risky attract the most engagement.  Right now, Twitter is very ‘sassy’ and brands are trying to jump on the bandwagon.  It’s not suitable for everyone – if you are a serious brand such as healthcare – but do be as conversational and human as you can be. There are certain accounts that will RT your posts to boost their value in Twitter’s eyes (NB treat this as your main objective – it’s unlikely the RTs will encourage anyone to read your posts or click on your links!) Check out the account bio to establish if they want you to use their hashtag or handle as a signal to request a RT. Avoid citing multiple RT accounts in the same tweet which devalues your Tweet content and may not earn you the RT out of pique.  You can use others in your reposts of the same content. See for examples of RT accounts for blogs. For business-focused RT accounts, try #flockbn, #uksmallbizrt and @UKBusinessNet.

Using video on Twitter

As with all channels, video is popular on Twitter right now.  There are twice as many video views on Twitter as there were 12 months ago.  Twitter says that Tweets with video are 6 times more likely to be Retweeted than photos. And video is their fastest-growing advertising tool. Twitter’s data shows that in-stream video ads can increase ad recall by 70% and lead to a 6% higher purchase intent compared to people who weren’t exposed to video ads. Videos are successful because they demonstrate how to use a product. Make sure your logo and/or brand colours are on screen near the start of your video – it doesn’t work to keep people guessing on Twitter. Above all, post the video directly in Twitter, don’t link out of it.  Twitter doesn’t want its customers to go next door, and discourages it by not showing a decent preview of your content.

Using Images on Twitter

Sometimes it’s more appropriate to use images.  Twitter recommends creating an easy-to-adjust template to insert your graphics into for branding and identifiability. As with video, ensure you upload the photo directly into Twitter.  It’s too easy with Instagram to share to Twitter, but don’t do it! If you do need one central point to disseminate content, use an automation tool such as Buffer.
Use easy-to-adjust templates to insert branded and identifiable images on Twitter

How to use Hashtags on Twitter

We’ve all been carefully following the rule of three – stats show that using more than 3 hashtags reduces engagement with tweets. However, Twitter quite rightly points out that you reduce the power of your Tweet if followers click on your hashtags to follow the conversation, instead of clicking on the link you posted. So only add hashtags where you really want to be part of the conversation, or where it will otherwise be powerful. See my blog on social media campaigns for good conversations to join for each day of the week. Add a further comment on your Tweet in a different time zone if you want to reach an international audience.

Advertising on Twitter

Twitter recommends combining organic strategies with paid strategies – that promoting a Tweet can give it initial momentum to continue attracting organic attention.  Of course, they would say that.  There is a minimum charge of $50 USD and no way of targeting to a demographic.  When I promoted a “like and follow” prize draw I didn’t get any entrants and the budget disappeared faster than water through a sieve.  Many fellow marketers I spoke to felt the same. 84% of Twitter users made an online purchase in the past month, compared to 74.5% of non-Twitter users. 31% of Twitter users made a mobile purchase in the past month, compared to 12.2% of non-Twitter users. Twitter has found users respond well to instructions to ‘buy today’.  If giving discounts, use % rather than amount in £/$. Types of Twitter ad campaign:
Types of Twitter ad campaign

The “audience” tab shows information such as your followers’ interests, mobile footprint, and buying habits, which can inform which part of your audience you need to grow as well as the best way to engage the people who are already reading your Tweets.

You need to open an ad account using your credit card details to see this information, but there is no charge unless you buy an ad.

How to network on Twitter

Twitter hours

Many accounts for specific localities, industries or segments hold networking hours, which are great if your business fits with any of these.

Some are more active and well-run than others; for example #wetherbyhour offer prizes for the greatest quantity of retweets, so you get more exposure than just to the other participants, and they help you ‘work’ Twitter’s algorithms through that engagement.

Some, such as #smesupporthour are topic based.  The account asks questions and the particpants answer them, so these are a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and make yourself memorable.

Social listening

Use Twitter’s advanced search to monitor mentions of your company or topics of interest.  You can narrow your search to specific locations, accounts, and even search on a question mark to check who is asking you questions, or on emoticons to measure positive mentions.

You can curate groups of Twitter accounts using the “Lists” function such as Prospects, Current Customers, and Competitors. Viewing a List timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that List.

You can also tap into existing lists from Twitter’s search box, selecting ‘Timelines’ on the left sidebar to see public lists related to your keywords.

Use both of these methods to monitor conversations and add replies, demonstrate your expertise, build relationships, and pick up leads.

In conclusion

You can reap rewards from Twitter but it takes planning, time and money.

Remember to check that Twitter is the right tool for your business, set your objectives, analyse your progress regularly, and evaluate your results to ensure you are getting a return on your investment.

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