We have all grown to love Twitter for its fast-paced, highly-topical format and its ability to draw the best comedic responses out of actors, reporters, brands and everyday folk. Twitter introduced us to social media mainstays like trending topics and hashtags and keeps a leg up on Facebook (for now) because all your followers have an opportunity to view your content, not just a small algorithm-selected percentage of them.
All of these features add up to a robust platform for companies and individuals to convey their brand messages. However, with all platforms there’s a distinct method for effectively engaging audiences. While Twitter shares some similarities in best practices with Facebook (images and videos work everywhere), its rapid-fire nature sets it apart and requires a different set of skills to cut through the clutter.
Below are what I call the seven “Be’s” of highly effective tweeting. They are best practices that myself and others have utilized over the years to reach our respective audiences on Twitter.
If you are trying to step up your social media game, you’ve likely heard this ad naseum, but you are going to hear it again. Images and videos drive engagement. Period. People respond to pretty pictures. They are captivated by fun videos (the shorter, the better.) According to Twitter, tweets containing photos received a 35 percent boosts in retweets over text tweets. Videos receive a 28 percent increase in retweets. The impact of “visual” tweets is even greater than photos in Facebook posts because the majority of tweets are still text-based.
One of the best things about Twitter is its low barrier of entry. Unlike, Facebook, if you want to start a conversation with someone on Twitter, just simply @ them. While influencers in your industry may not respond right away. If you engage in insightful conversations and give knowledgeable and thoughtful responses, people will notice. It also works the other way. Often, it’s the humanity in social media that resonates most with followers. Reach out to your followers. Ask questions. Respond to their tweets. And answer questions quickly when asked. Most importantly, have fun. People come to Twitter to learn and to be informed, but they also come to have fun and chat. Build a great brand voice, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Also, if your industry has a popular Twitter hashtag chat, like #CMworld or #AdWeekchat, join in. It’s a great way to get your Twitter brand out there among your peers and learn from the industry’s thought leaders.
One of the primary goals of your content on Twitter is engagement. A key metric of effective engagement is having your content retweeted. If you want more retweets, it’s as simple as asking for one. A study from Salesforce found that you are 12 times more likely to receive a retweet when simply asking for one than by just posting a tweet. Like all things, be judicious. Use this tactic when tweets have information that naturally lends to asking for a reweet. Posts about deals or coupons, event information, or a call to support a worthy cause are the most natural applications for this tactic.
Be a Hashtag User
For a tactic that gets used so often, there’s still power in using the hashtag. But it has to be used properly. The best way to use it is with terms that are endemic to your industry. For us, it’s #marketing, #SEO, #mobile, or #digitalmarketing. When we connect appropriate content with these hashtags, the results are positive. Statistics reinforce this point. A study by Buddy Media (Salesforce) says that tweets with one or two hashtags get twice as much engagement as ones with no hashtags. However, the study also indicates that engagement drops by 17 percent when more than two hashtags are used. Posts that use multiple hashtags can be difficult to read because the hashtag itself interrupts the natural flow of the tweet. The more times you have to stop to mentally acknowledge that a word is a hashtag, the harder it is to comprehend the sentence and the easier it is for a follower to skip over your tweet completely. Also, be careful with trending hashtags; their appeal is fleeting. While they can allow your tweet to get seen by a large number of people quickly, they don’t stick around long and may not be in keeping with the voice and tone of your business.
Twitter is a community and the best way to connect with your followers is to give to them and recognize them. The giving of information, discounts, and behind the scenes looks may be obvious, but don’t underestimate the power of giving recognition. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that people love to be acknowledged and when you retweet a post, give kudos or generally share information about one of your followers, it builds a connection with them that makes a reciprocal action much more likely. It’s just like any part of life, you get back what you put in. If you want your content, ideas or services recognized, you must do the same for others. Here’s a tip, when retweeting a tweet, do it the old fashion way, “RT @amazingperson” as opposed to hitting the retweet button. It’s more personal that way.
It doesn’t really matter how many times you tweet per day as long as you add value or entertainment to your audience with each tweet. It’s helpful to you and your audience if you tweet the same amount during the day and at same times. For the audience, your building and (hopefully) meeting a certain expectation for quality content. For you, it’s easier to organize your efforts. Scheduling apps make it easy to do that. By the way, according to Bit.ly, the best time to tweet is between 1-3 p.m.
Be True to Your Voice
Part of being consistent is understanding your social media voice. When it comes down to it, Twitter is a sales tool like anything else. You need to create a voice that resonates with your audience and motivates them to take a desired action whether it’s to visit your site or blog or purchase a product. There’s no rules on whether your voice needs to be funny, informative, serious or a combination of all those things. It just has to be your voice and it has to be one that engages your audience.
Whatever your approach to Twitter, the most important thing you can do is make sure that your audience identifies with your brand. It’s especially critical because of the rapid pace of tweets. This means building a solid strategy for engaging the right audience with the right messages. It also means that you always add value. Remember, your Twitter account is about your followers, not you.