I have been using Twitter for a while without really integrating it into an overall plan for marketing my business or building relationships with potential clients. So it feels like the Twitter mist is finally beginning to clear, about how to make it work for my business. Why? I went recently to a really useful meeting of the Business Biscotti Gold networking group – Corporate Escapees. Thanks to Alex and Neil from Seesaw Online for a great hands-on session covering Twitter, HootSuite and Facebook. I also listened to a Twitter Academy webinar about Twitter Analytics. So here are some key things I learnt, that I hope you also may find useful in using Twitter more effectively in your business.
Caveat – This is not meant to be a detailed “How to” guide – so you may have to delve deeper in some areas – but these should be a few signposts to get you searching.
- Twitter is a broadcast tool. People “tune-in” to Twitter from time to time so are only getting a snapshot of tweets at that time. This means that it’s OK (in fact positively a good idea) to send the same tweet on different days and at different times of the day. Alex used the analogy of the radio – where the same news items are repeated several times a day as people tend to dip in and out of listening or have favourite times when they listen in. You can use Twitter Analytics to find when your Tweets are being read – more on this to come.
- I had thought that using something like Hootsuite or TweetDeck was overkill for a small business, but now I can see how useful it is. I can’t tell you how many times I have written on an action list or my marketing plan “schedule list of Tweets and Facebook posts”, and yet still not really done it – well not consistently enough. The only way to effectively and consistently post multiple tweets on different days/times is to have some way of automating the process. I installed Hootsuite (the basic package that does what I need is free) and have now set aside time every Monday morning to write a few Tweets for the week and schedule them to get posted for the rest of the week.
- Once you have that base level of Twitter activity taken care of, you are free to do the ad-hoc re-tweeting, favourite-ing, replying, mentioning and commenting on things that catch my interest in the Twitter-sphere.
- Following – I won’t state the obvious! as to what this means. Although I described it as a broadcast tool earlier on, I see Twitter as a way of making connections and communicating with people. Although there are tools out there which can automate the process of following people who follow you etc., I have not gone down this route. Quality rather than quantity I think. Also not using auto-reply options; again I want to build more personal connections and have a reasonable balance between people I follow and people who follow me.
- There are lots of blogs and Twitter’s own support page that provide an explanation of the different ways of responding to tweets (retweet, reply, quote etc.) so I won’t repeat them here. It is worth getting a good understanding of the different options however – based on what you want to achieve for your business. You goals for using Twitter might include:
- Communicating and engaging with your clients and potential clients
- Improving visibility of your company’s products or services and gaining mind-share with a new audience
- Driving people to your website
- Deepening your engagement with your audience by providing useful and enjoyable content
- Developing an interactive dialogue with your audience…
So before you hit the retweet button, find out about the other ways to reply and see which fits your goals best.
- Growing your follower base. You obviously need to have interesting and useful content in the first place. But you need to get that content seen by people you want to interact with. One way to do this is to use the # and @username in your tweets. Here are two examples of tweets sent during the Corporate Escapees event I mentioned earlier:
- @CorpEscapees great session today already clearing the fog around social media Thanks
- A very serious conversation today! “@CorpEscapees: The #hootsuite table! @nordenfarm #socialmedia #entrepreneur (plus this tweet included a photo of people at the event).
The second tweet had a better response for a number of reasons – can you see why? Both mentioned @corpescapees – and were later re-tweeted by them – so good for showing interest. But the two big differences in terms of likely engagement are: 1) the second tweet included a photo and tweets with photos have higher engagement rate than ones without. 2) It also used hashtags (#) referencing potential target audiences such as users of Hootsuite, people interested in social media and entrepreneurs. Using a hashtag makes it easier for people to find your tweet in a search.
I can use these examples without being seen as critical as the first example was sent by me!
- As with anything you use to market your business, always be consistent with your branding and messaging. So this means making sure that your header photo and your Twitter profile identify who you are and your high level value proposition in line with your other marketing media.
- And finally a brief word about Hootsuite. I personally had a few problems linking it to my Twitter account and my Facebook account, but once I had overcome that it was easy to set up streams (different windows in effect) to show my tweets, retweets I had, mentions and tweets I had scheduled. Also set up a tab for Facebook posts – but that’s another topic for another day.
I feel like I have put myself on the line by publishing this and now have to practice what I preach. I look forward to growing my audience engagement over time, so watch this space.
In Part 2 of my Twitter-learnings I will share more about using Twitter Analytics to help you understand how your current Tweets are performing and how to increase engagement to meet your business goals.
If you aren’t already, then please follow me @MATconsultancy.
Thanks to the following and check them out on Twitter too: @BBGClubs, @CorpEscapees, @TheSeesawGang, and @JPCoaching (whose example tweet I used).