The basics of using Twitter to promote your business

For many SMEs, social media can be a confusing minefield. So here, Gavin Hammar, founder and CEO at Sendible, breaks down the basics, with the layman’s guide to using Twitter to promote your business.

There’s no disputing the power of Twitter as a business marketing tool. Every month sees 271 million active users take to their keyboards to comment on everything from public figures and politics, to celebrity banter and company complaints.

Twitter for businessIn 2012, there were 50 million tweets a day, and in 2014 that multiplied ten-fold to 500 million daily tweets. Not surprising then, that so many marketers are using its immense power to drive traffic to their brand’s sites. But how can we maximise its potential, and tap into its far reaching capabilities?

Used for personal reasons, it’s a straightforward matter of signing up and signing in, but using Twitter as a marketing method needs a strategy that goes beyond getting an account. It’s not just simply creating a presence, it’s about making your presence known, and taking several essential steps that will help you to build a solid reputation for your brand. Tweeteev is a great service if you’re trying to grow your account but don’t know where to start.

Twitter strategy

Before you hit the tweet button, it’s vital to take a more strategic approach, and firstly look at why and how your business and brand can benefit from using Twitter. At this point, it’s really about going back to basics. As marketers, we are constantly exploring new ways to use social platforms, and striving for more advanced methods. Focusing on the basics, such as how to use Twitter to reach your target market, and researching what you can expect to gain from it, will help you to set a strategic plan with specific goals.

Look at the fundamentals, such as who will manage the account; should it be marketing or the CEO? How many users will you have? Too many and you may lose the consistency of tone; too few and you may fail to make an impact. If you’re a growing business and just starting out on Twitter, research is vital – see what your competitors are tweeting about, or search for industry keywords to gather market intelligence. It’s an easy way to get insights that you can use to inform your strategy

Getting started:

  • Choose a suitable username, ie the @username, which is what the business will be known as on Twitter. Try and keep the username short and memorable, so it doesn’t take up too much of Twitter’s 140-character limit.
  • Make sure the general header image is engaging. The finer details make a difference, and basics, such as colour schemes, should be taken into consideration. Images and videos are also important for engagement – studies have shown that including photos can increase the number of retweets by 35%.
  • Right from the initial stages get your brand integrated into the Twitter community. Follow customers, prospects, industry influencers, and look at who is following your competitors.
  • Creating and sharing lists will ensure you keep up-to-date with specific groups and target audiences, and will help to position your company as an authority in its field. These can be set to public or private, so you could monitor your competitors in a private list, and demonstrate your impressive list of brand advocates in a public list.
  • Update your profile with tweets consistently, with your latest events, including any new images and videos, to enhance your marketing message.

Content is king

It may sound obvious, but any content that is posted has to be engaging to encourage interaction from other users. Include links to articles, relevant news stories, special promotions, and testimonials, even make use of other social media sites like LinkedIn in this way. The biggest mistake businesses make is being too sales orientated – including interesting links and general thought-provoking content is far more likely to drive visitors to your website than a ‘salesy’ tweet. The same goes for retweets: make sure it’s relevant content from other Twitter users (but not your direct competitors).

  • Give the company tweets a personality and a real voice to avoid being robotic. Mixing a couple of ‘human’ tweets in with your business-related tweets will keep the balance, and make it more natural and engaging.
  • You have the option to favourite a tweet – businesses and brands can favourite tweets to acknowledge everyone who mentions them, rather than responding to each individually.
  • Given the immediacy of Twitter, it’s vital to respond to any questions and comments in a timely fashion. Start replies with @username if you want to limit the number of people who can see a conversation. Alternatively, if you want to shout about a compliment, place the @username further into the text so the tweet reaches as wide an audience as possible.
  • Use hashtags to start conversations, make your tweet relevant to conversations, and try to get involved with appropriate hashtags that are trending.

Capturing information and measuring success

Having all this data at your fingertips is no good if you don’t harness it. You can measure engagement within Twitter itself, via its own free analytics tool. This will provide you with basic, statistics-driven information, such as number of click-throughs and replies, and measure the reach of your tweets.

Another method is to create landing pages specific to the campaign you are tweeting, with a form visitors have to complete to download a piece of collateral – for example a white paper, case study, video, or free trial. This will enable you to see the real ROI from Twitter to lead capture.

Add UTM tracking values to your URL’s, and shorten them too, as this will enable you to track a visitor’s journey through your website and see its success.

Tools of trade

There are successful social media management solutions that will allow you to monitor your brand, including any mentions and retweets. Rather than relying on multiple tools to effectively manage different elements of social media, you could use a solution to engage with your audience, monitor your brand, and track results from one dashboard. For Twitter alone, it will enable you to schedule your tweets, auto-retweet, auto-follow when people mention a specific keyword, and deliver relevant content from third party websites and other sources. These types of solutions also give you full reporting capabilities, including geographical location of followers, measuring the engagement of your tweets.

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