If you have breaking news, updates, and questions for your customers or if you simply want to canvas and seek an opinion, Twitter is a great way to engage. It is useful for businesses that frequently have things to say and prefer to communicate with people directly.
Twitter mystifies some people and it can take some effort to get the most out of it and be able to deliver your audience the best content at the most suitable times. One mistake that businesses make when using Twitter is how they use it. They treat it as a personal broadcasting stream to their network.
Twitter isn’t so much about B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to customer). It’s real strength is through P2P (person to person) communication. Developing a person-to-person connection leads to recognition which leads to awareness. This awareness can lead to friendship and likeability which creates trust.
You want people to get to know you through your regular conversations and learn more about you and what you have to offer – so here are a few tips for using Twitter for business that may add value to your Twitter conversations:
What to say and how to say it
Draw upon your original ideas and observations, your unique experiences and share them with others. Ask smart questions that can contribute to conversations or better yet start a conversation. Be charismatic and write persuasive content. You don’t need to be inspirational or word savvy just be smart and bring something new to the discussion.
Best days to tweet and time of day to tweet
As there are a lot of people tweeting all the time, your message becomes one of the millions of tweets published every day. If you feel that you aren’t being heard, don’t worry, just write thought provoking or catchy tweets and they will. They do however have a short lifespan. Find out what the optimum time is to publish your tweets and the best day of the week for your message to be picked up by others. If you’re busy at this time there are plenty of tools online that will automate your publishing and publish them for you at a time you have determined.
Keep your tweets short
Short, pithy tweets are more compelling to your audience than longer messages. Tweets that are written with less than 100 characters have a 17% higher level of engagement than those who use all their 140 characters. By using fewer characters in your tweet allows others to retweet your message and add something extra to your message and guarantees your original message will remain intact. If you are posting links back to your website, then keep your links short by using a redirect service – for example, http://bit.ly and http://is.gd are two popular ones – there are plenty of redirection services that you can use. Make sure your message is hard-hitting and to the point.
Hashtags are useful for people who are searching or following on a specific topic they are interested in, so if your content is tagged with a relevant keyword-focused tag then it is much more likely to be found and re-tweeted than if it isn’t. Tweets that use hashtags see twice as much engagement compared to those tweets that do not use hashtags. Many companies do not make use of hashtags. There is a 21% increase in the engagement level when using only one or two hashtags in your tweet compared to a 17% decrease in engagement when more than two hashtags were used. Go to the search box and type in your #<subject of interest>.
You don’t always want to be talking about yourself, write messages and share others’ information which gives a different perspective and perhaps even a fresh insight. Retweet rates increase 12 times when a tweet asks for people to “retweet” or “RT”. Only 1% of businesses ask their followers to retweet their tweets. Asking people to “RT” increases the retweet rate 10 times compared with using the word “retweet” which increases the retweet rate 23 times. If someone retweets your message, acknowledge the retweet and show your appreciation by sending them a thank you. Retweets are useful to widen your message out to others by encouraging others to forward your message through retweeting it to others in their network.
Follow the leads
Twitter isn’t just about your tweets; it’s also a great idea to check out your competitors, your local audience, and your industry leaders and decide if and how you’d like to interact with them. But don’t just follow your competitors; follow their followers. This will give you some fresh insight on how to broaden your own following and what those people are looking for. It may even show you something that your competitor is doing that is better than you are doing right now. Their followers may even become your customers, with a little bit of fine-tuning.
Cross-post your tweets
Some business owners use Twitter as a vehicle to highlight what they’ve been saying in Facebook, others use it like an RSS feed to show their followers what they’ve been publishing on their website. Twitter can become a great source of traffic back to your website. It is highly likely that you won’t have the same people who are fans on your Facebook page the same as the ones who are following you on Twitter – so they’re unlikely to be receiving the same information twice. Add links in your Twitter profile to your Facebook, website and other social media sites to help link and connect them all together.
Images on Twitter
Twitter is no longer just reduced to words and emoticons anymore – you can upload an image to make your content more engaging. One study I’ve read showed that tweets with images receive twice as much engagement as tweets which only had text or links. As tweet streams are constantly filled up with text, an image will help you stand out from the rest.
As with anything you do, try to learn something new and be innovative. Taking a class or reading a book by an expert is not by itself going to teach you how to have an effective online presence. You need to immerse yourself in Twitter and experiment with a range of different ideas – and perhaps you’ll have some fun along the way.