1: Planning Matters
One of the best metaphors for Twitter is that it’s a bar. Unlike Facebook where you know interact with ‘friends’, on Twitter you can engage with almost anyone. There are millions of simultaneous conversations happening on thousands of topics. It can be overwhelming. It can also be enlightening.
The open nature of Twitter is what makes it so compelling as a possible tool for business. However, businesses that think they can create an account and start marketing on Twitter (or: spewing sales pitches) are in for a rude awakening. Not only will that strategy fail, the Twitter community could activate the corporate and make a PR nightmare for the business. Don’t forget to include Twitter videos in your marketing strategy. You can download twitter videos from other account to edit and use for yourself. It will help you to get more engagement on Twitter.
Marketing isn’t about pushing products. It’s about understanding market needs, analyzing competition, identifying the positioning ‘sweet spot’, building awareness and credibility, developing and supporting a community of loyal customers and more. Twitter can be used for any or all of these marketing objectives. In fact, one of Twitter’s unique strengths is its ‘discovery’ capabilities.
What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals and the way will you recognize that you’re successful or going the proper direction? You can start Rule #2 before having these fully completed, but you need to have your Twitter objectives nailed down before you start tweeting.
2: Listen First
Remember how we said Twitter is like a bar? How would people react if you walked into a bar (or coffee shop or other public place for socializing) and you started shouting about whatever was on your mind? Best case they’d ignore you. More likely, you’d be thrown out – and maybe never allowed back.
The same applies on Twitter. Don’t spam. Relevance is essential. The Twitter community is judge and jury. It can be difficult to recover from a bad reputation so it’s best not to get one in the first place.
If you’re just getting started on Twitter, be sure to listen (read) for a while before you start posting or replying. There’s nothing wrong with being a voyeur. Even if you’re already on Twitter, take a step back and just listen once in a while. Do it on a fairly regular basis. Twitter is evolving quickly.
So what are you ‘listening’ for?
- Know the recent topics, hottest links from tweets, or hottest users?
- What are the kinds of tweets that get re-tweeted most?
- What are the users in your industry or audience tweeting about?
3: Find Your Voice
When you were listening within the previous rule, you certainly noticed many various sorts of tweets. If you didn’t, you should go back and listen harder.
While there is no right or wrong answer for what your Twitter style or voice should be, there are definitely considerations to make before you start tweeting. You need to make sure that your voice is appropriate for the objectives that you are trying to achieve and the image that you want to portray. You should document the characteristics of your chosen voice and why they’re important – this is often especially useful if you’ll have quite one person tweeting for your organization or if you propose to rent ghost writers.
4: Look Alive
Creating an account on Twitter and leaving the default profile photo and background is a sure-fire way to show Twitter users that you’re not serious about Twitter or the Twitter community as a whole. There is no excuse for not investing in the small effort that it takes to create a rich profile page and profile photo.
Have a designer create something that integrates well with the Twitter profile page. The Whole Foods and Zappos examples below should offer you some ideas. Look at your competitors and do something better! If you do not have the talents in-house, there are many freelance designers which will create something totally custom without spending much. Of course you’ll be wanting to finish the profile information and include a URL – consider a selected landing page on your website.
There are several couple schools of thought on profile photos. For businesses, more and more logos are showing up. In our opinion, logos aren’t within the right spirit. Twitter provides a singular way for businesses to deliver a person’s touch. Our recommendation is to use an honest quality, properly formatted photo if you’ll . There are many articles on the topic. Do a quick search to get more information and suggestions.
Now you’re ready to promote your presence on Twitter. Promote your Twitter user name on your website, in email signatures, direct mail pieces, business cards, etc. If you’re tweeting regularly, consider displaying them on your website or blog. There are many tools that make it easy.
5: Grow Your Flock
Several strategies exist to help grow your flock on Twitter. Some are a bit controversial. We’ll save those for later. Hopefully we don’t need to explain the benefits of having a lot of followers. The real question is, “Are you attracting the followers you would like to urge to your goals?”
Rule #4 covered the first step. Letting your existing customers and partners know how to find you on Twitter will get you some followers. The second strategy is to follow companies and individuals within your industry and/or region. Some will follow you in return. But there are other benefits.
Many tools check out the relationships between users (who’s following whom) and make recommendations supported that information. As a result, following users with certain characteristics can actually assist you attract followers. Genuine engagement (Rule #6) is also key to gain followers and builds off of the users you follow. Another totally acceptable thanks to gain followers is to follow interesting people. If you discover someone who tweets interesting things associated with your business, see who she follows, and follow her.
Auto-following users based on them following you or using third-party tools (some listed below) is where you start to get into a gray area. Tools are already beginning to show up that check out the ratio of followers to friends for ranking and other purposes. It’s probably not an honest idea to urge your ratio completely out of whack. “Follow many but don’t auto-follow everyone” is perhaps the simplest approach.
6: Engage Genuinely
Look before you leap when it involves Twitter. You are embarking on a journey. It can’t be viewed as a one-time event. You have to nurture and support your efforts. If your initial level of activity begins to wane, your followers will notice and can feel a way of abandonment. Start with a comfortable, sustainable level of engagement. Engagement on Twitter is just like the inverse of product pricing – it is easy to drop prices and straightforward to extend Twitter engagement, but doing the reverse is exponentially harder .
To get started, use search.twitter.com or another Twitter search method to see who is talking about you, your brand or a keyword related to your industry. Read up then engage once you have something informative to mention . If you are looking for your user name you can only see your replies in Twitter if someone starts a tweet with ‘@(your twitter name)’ but sometimes people will put @yourname in the middle of their tweet. By searching “to:yourname” it’ll find any tweets that included your user name.
Using sense combined with Rules 1-5, you ought to be in pretty fine condition . The more time you spend on Twitter, the more efficient and effective you’ll get. Below are some tips gathered from various Twitter users round the web on the way to optimize your Twitter time and avoid potential Twitter landmines:
- Clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it tons easier to manage Twitter and cause you to more efficient.
- Understand and use direct messages (DM) (private), replies (public) and re-tweets (RT) correctly.
- you do not need to read every tweet or reply to each DM, but don’t ignore all of them either.
- Use URL shortening tools like TinyURL, tr.im and others for cleaner tweets and more characters for you.
- discuss others’ tweets and re-tweet what others have posted to create your home within the community.
7: Track Your Results
Once you have everything in motion, you’ll want to keep an eye on things to track your progress and to determine whether it makes sense to spend more (or less) time on Twitter. You can easily go overboard with measurements. Here are our recommendations on the ‘must haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’.
In Rule #1 you set your Twitter marketing objectives. What do you need to measure to make sure you’re headed in the right direction? These are your key performance indicators or KPIs. Once you know what your KPIs are, you’ll be able to figure out what tools you need.
For example, if your goal is to get visitors to your website and to sell a product, you’ll want to know how many visitors are coming to the site from Twitter, what percentage of these visitors buy your product and the way your conversion rate compares to visitors from other sources. Web analytics tools from Yahoo, Google and others (see Resources below) can get this information for you. Obviously this is simplified. You’ll likely have multiple goals and more KPIs for each goal, but it’s important to understand what metrics you really need and why they are important – what do they tell you and how can you use that information? You’ll need to track your KPIs on a regular basis and use them to make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
Twitter is changing the way people communicate and look for information and it hasn’t even scratched the surface in terms of its potential reach and influence.
Twitter are often used for fast, effective and cheap research, customer support, PR , lead generation and more – but your efforts will almost certainly backfire if you do not follow the explicit and unspoken policies in this vibrant and rapidly growing community.
Whether you are self-employed, a small business owner, a multi-national corporation or a government agency – a high-tech company, a manufacturer or a coffee shop, Twitter provides huge opportunities and risks.