“Twitter is the best marketing tool in social media!” proclaims billions of social media gurus. Okay, great! Now how do we do it?
“Engage! Be social! Think ‘rainbows and butterflies’ and you’ll be #winning with #tigerblood!”
Unfortunately, this isn’t much of an exaggeration. We hear all the time how Twitter is about engagement. We know that it’s about being social. We want to be #winning. Surely, there’s a process to make it easier. There must be tip and tricks beyond the rainbows and butterflies that business users can utilize to maximize their effectiveness on Twitter.
Yes, yes there are. In the quest to improve the return on the investment of money and time, there are things that you can use today to get more out of Twitter than your competitors. Here are some:
The biggest mistake that most make when using Twitter to market their business and/or improve customer relations is that they either start with no plan or plan without ever really starting. Twitter is now. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s a real-time exposition about you, your business, and the world around you.
For Twitter to be effective, you must get your message out. This seems like common sense, but there are many instances when businesses take it slow in the beginning hoping to ease into Twitter. This brings up challenges. Without frequent updates, you’re out of mind. Perhaps more importantly, Twitter fades from your mind and can grow stagnant.
Then, Tweet again.
Get into the habit of Tweeting often. There are no limits to the number of times you can Tweet. There are unofficial limits based upon a certain annoyance level – if you Tweet too much, you will make people unfollow you.
Depending on who you ask, the “magic number” may be 5, 10, or 20 Tweets per day. It really depends on your bandwidth, the personality of your company, and what tools you’re using.
An generic example of a perfect world scenario would be local business that doesn’t require Twitter for day-to-day business. Let’s say you own a furniture store. There is really nothing pressing to post to Twitter at any given moment (as compared to a food truck that relies on Twitter to tell people their current location).
You are using scheduling tools such as Timely to get your tweets out. These tools are exceptionally effective because they consolidate your random Tweeting activities for you. Rather than spending a little time every couple of hours, you’re able to spend time at once coming up with dozens of different Tweets and scheduling them throughout the days.
You’re comfortable enough with your Twitter skills to post 15 times a day – once every hour or two. You express the personality of your company and over time as you watch which Tweets are most effective, you improve. Perfect world.
Plan For Tomorrow
The other side of the coin is where you get so caught up in today that you forget to plan for the future. Having a batch of 30 Tweets scheduled over the next 2 or 3 days is not planning. You’re covering “now” for an extended period of time, but it’s not truly a plan.
Planning requires strategy. Strategy requires that you select specific goals that you want to attain through Twitter. For example, you may be planning on giving away an iPad to the first person that comes into your furniture store and tells someone they found you on Twitter.
This sounds like a nice promotion, but it will be most effective if you attach it to a proper plan. Here’s an example:
2 Weeks Out
- Post a video on YouTube announcing that you’re going to be giving away something soon and that the promotion will be attached to Twitter. Call it “Bob’s Furniture Store’s First Twitter Giveaway.”
- Embed the video onto a blog post as well as Facebook. Post a link to the blog post on Facebook every 2 or 3 days.
- Tweet it out every day. Make the tweets different every time. “Our first Twitter giveaway is coming – initial details here: [link to blog post]“
1 Week Out
- Post a silhoutte image of the iPad on your blog asking people to guess what it is. Don’t make it super-obvious but you definitely want people to figure it out.
- Tweet and Facebook the post every day up until the day before. Someone will figure it out on the first day. Mention them, but keep people coming to see what it is: “Can you do it? @username figured out what we’re giving away for our 1st Twitter giveaway. Can you? [Link}”
- Step it up. Mark the time. Announce it. “Tomorrow at 11:00 am we will be releasing our Twitter contest to win a free iPad. Check back then!”
- This is where many drop the ball. If you’re going to give away an iPad, you shouldn’t just give it away to anyone. They must work for it, they must be local (if you’re a local business), and you want them to spread it through social media.
In this case, you would send them to a blog post at 11:00 am. The blog post will detail what you want them to do. Make it local and make them come in. Some would say not to. I disagree. Tell them that the iPad goes to the first person who locates it in the store and Tweets out a picture of it from their mobile device.
Put it somewhere secure but visible. It could be on one of the counters. Do not mark it as a giveaway item – you want people who come via Twitter to know what it is. No need to give it away to a customer who is already in the store.
The giveaway is over, right? No. Now, since the person who takes the first picture is right there in the store, ask them if you can take their picture or even record a short video of them saying something clever such as “I won my iPad from Bob’s Furniture Store by following them on Twitter!”
Post the image. Post the video. Congratulate them every couple of days on Twitter. Then announce the next giveaway.
It doesn’t always have to be an iPad. One of our customers gives away movie tickets every weekend. It’s inexpensive but surprisingly effective.
There’s a lot of fun in running campaigns and giving away prizes, but don’t let that get in the way of customer relations. The challenge with scheduling Tweets is that it often makes business owners forget to monitor their communications.
Watch your @replies and direct messages all the time. It’s not hard, particularly if you use a mobile device and set it to beep at you when you receive direct communications on Twitter.
Replies are an absolute key to using Twitter effectively. If people talk to you, it’s imperative that you reply. Good, bad, ugly – it doesn’t matter. You need to reply.
There will be those that say negative things to you. If you can come across in a public manner and look good as a result, that’s the best way to reply. If it’s a concern that needs to be handled privately, DM them. If they aren’t following you and you can’t DM them, send them an @reply with concern for their issues and ask them to follow you so you can help resolve the issue.
Conversely, if they are saying good things about you, reply, retweet, thank them – do whatever you can to highlight them in some way. Building brand ambassadors is easy when you’re responsive.
This is hard for some. We get caught in a rut sometimes where all of the Tweets start to sound the same. Look at other companies such as Skittles. They try to always be creative and engaging. They want people to like what they have to say and they put a lot of effort into being fresh.
Two mistakes that business owners and communities managers make is that they either get stale, Tweet nothing but links, or both. Don’t let this happen.
A stale Twitter account is one that either doesn’t post often enough or constantly posts boring stuff. It’s hard to be interesting 100% of the time but that’s exactly what you should strive to do. The days of “What are you doing” being the way to Tweet are behind us. It’s not that you can’t post mundane subjects every now and then, but even mundane tweets can be made interesting. Compare the difference:
- “Over 100 degrees out, today. Good thing it’s cool inside Bob’s Furniture Store.”
- “Today reminds me of the scorcher in 2004. Do you remember Atlanta, summer 2004? OUCH! 72 degrees inside Bob’s, thankfully.”
The differences are subtle, but the first one is a veiled pitch and the second one is a conversation starter. Same message, different results.
A link-spamming Twitter account is the easiest way to lose followers. If you aren’t talking to people and you’re posting links every time, you’re messing up.
Look at @Ford. They have links. They have conversation. They retweet people. @ScottMonty and @CraigDaitch do a superb job of keeping the mix exactly right, which is one of the reasons why Ford is the pinnacle in the automotive industry for social media.
You don’t have to be Ford to be a superstar on Twitter. You just have to be creative, plan, listen, and Tweet. The difference between doing it right and doing it wrong is about as big as the difference between doing it well and not doing it at all.