I used to hate Twitter.
I just did not get it.
You may feel that way too, and I completely understand. However, in my time growing and developing my expertise as a social media marketer, I’ve come to see how Twitter, when properly used, is the most important social media platform for most businesses.
The 140 characters, interaction, and etiquette all take some getting used to, and it’s also a different way of thinking. Because Twitter is mainly a platform for businesses to talk to each other, it requires different mindset. The thing you have to keep in mind is that, those businesses are run by real people, and when you engage those real people via their business Twitter accounts, they grow to recognize and respect you. Twitter is a great tool for building brand awareness.
I spend most of my time managing Twitter for clients and rarely push my own profiles. Yesterday, I decided to do a little experiment and give my own Twitter account some attention. I was astounded by the (unusual) results:
Wow! Now, I’ll be the first to admit that 113 new followers in one day is not normal for a regular non-celebrity account, but as seen here it’s certainly possible.
Twitter does require a bit of a learning curve but when approached with the right strategy, it’s an excellent branding tool. Depending on your business, for a basic social media campaign I recommend:
Twitter combined with Facebook for consumer, recreational, or entertainment businesses
Twitter combined with LinkedIn for professional services
Your Twitter content needs to be strategic. It should be informative and content driven and it should not all about sales. A good rule of thumb is that your social media content should only be about 20% promotional. The other 80% should be information that’s interesting for your audience; that will engage them, build your relationship with them, and establish trust in your interest in the industry in general, not only for your own purposes.
It’s a good idea to brainstorm and establish an ideal list of hashtags to use whenever you have characters to spare. You can also place your hashtags strategically within your tweet. Your choice of hashtags will depend on your business and your target audience.
There’s a trend to create hashtags that are “cool” and unique to your business, but I disagree with that approach. What’s the point of making up a hashtag that no one else will ever use or look for? People don’t absorb the ideas of new hashtags very easily, so they generally fall flat. I like to emphasize the use of hashtags that your target audience are naturally already searching for, that are already hot with a lot of traffic and activity, and that are straightforward and easy to read.
Example: For a gift basket company in the Niagara region, hashtags might include
Twitter content should be abundant! 4-6+ tweets a day is optimal, provided your content is good. Because the volume is high, to efficiently manage your content and streamline the process, you’ll want to create a content library. There is no reason to recreate the wheel every time you want to post something.
Twitter in particular moves very quickly. What you post today can be used again 3 months, 6 months, or a year down the road. You can either use the exact same post again later, or you might reword it slightly while still conveying the same, important message later and url.
To kickstart your effort, dedicate some time to generating content and create your own marketing library. Generating content in advance, and then adding to it periodically, will save you a lot of time and efficiency in the long run. You will want to generate approximately 60 (or more) posts to get started. Your posts should be no more than 140 characters so that they are suitable for Twitter. Use bitly to shorten your links so that they’re appropriate for Twitter.
Create separate sections in your library for different types of content, and different tabs for different campaigns. For example, you might have one tab dedicated to holiday or seasonal posts, or a campaign revolving around one specific event, or around one product. Keep your campaigns separate for easy access. I like to use Excel as a library because you can divide your content up by columns and in separate tabs without having to pull from multiple documents. And of course, you can calculate the character count which is very important and time saving for Twitter.
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- Pull posts from your Content Library and track the content that you’ve used. (Click here for a template.)
- Using Buffer or the platform of your choice, load up content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. (Recommendation: just use the same content for FB, LinkedIn, and Google+.)
- Load the content in advance and make a note in your calendar for when the content will run out so that you can load more. Make social media a recurring task in your calendar.
Managing social media can be a lot of fun, but sometimes it can also be time consuming and burdensome. Remember, choosing the DIY approach is basically free whereas traditional marketing can be very costly. There is a lot you can achieve on social media, especially on Twitter when you start tagging and engaging with the right players in your niche. If you haven’t got the time to effectively manage your own campaign, my social media packages start at as little as $112 a month. Contact me to discuss your needs.
Identify and follow relevant businesses and organizations.
- About 100 is a good goal to start with. Avoid just following people’s personal Twitter accounts and focus on bigger players in your area and industry. Eventually the goal is to gain more followers than the number of people that you’re following.
- Don’t follow people just because they follow you. Only follow people who are relevant or who you are actually interested in.
- Avoid following irrelevant celebrities and public figures, etc. unless they might provide information you might actually decide to retweet.
- About your products/services
- About your business location or niche
- About special occasions and holidays
- Include pictures whenever possible
- Use the new blog posts to create at least one “hook” to add to your Content Library that will drive people back to that blog post. I usually generate 8 to 12 hooks for each blog post.
- Twitter posting goals: 3+ posts a day (6 or more for larger campaigns)
- 1 out of 3 tweets can be promotional
- Include informational tweets with a link to blog posts or articles
- 1+ other interesting or funny quotation, article, etc. per day – link back with the @symbol whenever you’re including content from someone else who is on Twitter
- As many appropriate retweets as possible from your niche or location
- As many conversational posts as possible replying to and tagging using @ to create conversation and relationships with people and businesses in your nice or geographic region
I really do believe that Twitter is the most effective tool for most small business, followed by either Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on your industry. Instagram can be a good goal for Phase II of your marketing campaign. Later.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Stay focused. It takes a little elbow grease, but you can run a very effective social marketing campaign yourself if you’re willing to put in the work.
Once you’ve been up and running for a month, review your progress. Then, set a benchmark for yourself for month 2 and make sure that your efforts are working. Tweak and course correct your campaign on a monthly basis if you aren’t getting the results you’re looking for.
If you need help with your social media marketing plan, either for the long term marketing or just to get it up and running for the first 2-3 months, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can help to create a model for the first little while that you can then follow later, and my plans start at very reasonable rates. If you have any questions, just ask.