Twitter is fairly polarizing. Folks love it — because they have access to breaking news and their favorite leaders and bloggers — or hate it — because they don't really care what someone's eating for lunch. I get it. With about 200 million world-wide Twitter users, there's a lot of great information and a lot of fluff out there.
Still, not all 200 million users are active. About 2.2% of users generate 60% of the content on Twitter. Perhaps you're one of the Twitter users who created an account in '08 and haven't done anything with it since. Or maybe you're tweeting regularly but feel like you need to be monitoring your presence more effectively.
How can tweeting enhance your business goals? How will you know who to follow and listen to? How can you rise above the fluff? Whether you love it or hate it, you can make Twitter work for you — either using a personal account or setting up an account for your business. I've pulled together these tips and resources to help you make the most of Twitter, and even integrate it successfully with your email marketing strategy.
What's this you say about goals?
That's right. You need to figure out what you're aiming to do with Twitter. This isn't a chicken-or-egg situation. The most effective way to use Twitter is to start with goals, then concern yourself with content, frequency and tracking. Are you looking to build brand awareness? Connect with thought leaders in your industry? Sell more sweaters? Here's a helpful article about setting Twitter goals. Set two or three goals now that'll guide your decisions later.
Setting up your Twitter account
If you haven't set up your Twitter account, do it now. The hardest part? Choosing your Twitter name and writing a bio. Don't underestimate the power of your name and bio. That's how people find you, and how they'll create expectations and attitudes about you. Not surprisingly, @LittleMissSunshine gives a different impression than @AngryChip. If you're tweeting on behalf of your business, the business name should do just fine. And read this article about optimizing your bio to get more followers.
Quick Twitter tips
- Mind your tweeting frequency. This is subjective, of course, but you don't want to reach a point where your tweets are over-saturating your followers' feeds. Very active users would say there's no point of over-saturation, but other folks might be more sensitive. A good move? Follow some of your favorite brands and monitor how frequently they're tweeting.
- Be smart about the number of characters in your tweets. You have space for 140, but it's better to keep tweets around 120. That way, others can retweet and add their own commentary. (When you retweet, you can set apart your commentary by adding | or // after the original tweet, then your text.)
- Mentions (when you start a tweet with @____) aren't shared out to all followers, just the person you've sent it to. However, your followers can see it if they're also following that person, or if they visit your Twitter timeline.
- If someone mentions you, they likely expect a response.
- It's okay to tweet multiple times about something since not everyone is watching Twitter at the same time or catching all of your tweets. Just make sure to change up the content a bit. Auto-tweets with zero personality will turn off even your most tolerant followers.
- Twitter is not IM or email. It's for quick back-and-forths, not full conversations. (In fact, IMs and emails aren't the best place for full conversations either. Pick up the phone once in a while.)
- Shorten your URLs. Most of the social media platforms, which I'll talk about shortly, do this automatically — but you may want to set up a bit.ly account to shorten URLs and track how many clicks your links get.
Do you mention your workplace in your bio?
If you've set up a personal account and labeled yourself as Employee of X or Teacher at Y, pay attention to the content of your tweets in that context. You've made yourself a brand ambassador by connecting yourself to your workplace, which is terrific when sharing industry news and tweeting about work-related events. Still, if you're primarily using the Twitter account for personal uses, I'd suggest adding an "Opinions my own" line to your bio. And, don't say anything snarky about work or coworkers. You realize that Twitter is public and searchable, right? If a conversation is getting a bit iffy for a public forum, DM (direct message) the person and take it behind "closed doors."
Here's a roundup of useful Twitter tools:
- TweetDeck is the easiest, free monitoring tool out there. You can see all mentions and direct messages in simple, column-based streams. You can set up searches, schedule tweets in advance and add other social accounts (an additional Twitter account or a Facebook page, for example). It also has a URL-shortener built in.
- HootSuite is another popular tweeting and monitoring platform. A basic (free) plan and a pro (paid) plan are available.
- TwitPic allows you to host photos and post them to Twitter.
- TwitDoc is a simple way to share files (up to 15MB) on Twitter.
A note about retweeting
Twitter is all about anticipated reciprocity. People will retweet what you have to say when you're retweeting what they have to say. This doesn't mean you have to retweet with abandon. But, retweeting a relevant article or link gives props to the original poster and also lets your followers in on your personality and interests.
Following and followers
I think it's best to be a bit discriminate in who you follow. You can't keep up with every conversation unless you're staring at Twitter all day (or getting constant updates on your phone) — and who has time for that? Still, you may not want to seem too exclusive. That's where lists come in. You can create a private list of "Favorites," or whatever you want to call it, and it'll likely be the list you watch the most. There's no limit to the number of lists you might create, for example, by city, industry, customer type or competitor.
What's the best way to keep up with your followers? You can use TwitterCounter to see a graph of Twitter followers over time. Or, you can go to mytweeple to see who's newly following you and read their bios.
Not sure who to follow? Check out just tweet it, a directory of users by category with featured Twitter users.
Twitter plus email
Your Twitter strategy and email strategy aren't mutually exclusive; make sure they're complementing each other. Add a "Follow me on Twitter" link to your email campaigns and tweet the public link to your campaigns (found on Emma's response page) after each send-out. And remember to enable the Social Sharing feature on your campaigns so that recipients can share your email with their own social networks.
Want even more information?
Here are some articles I've found particularly useful:
- The Complete Guide to Getting the Most Out of Twitter. This site gives a nice rundown of Twitter terminology and etiquette, along with links to a dizzying number of tools.
- Another handy guide is Webdesigner Depot's Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter.
- Vist What the Trend to see new trending topics on Twitter.
Do you have any go-to tips or resources for Twitter? Is there anything you'd like to see Emma tweeting about more regularly? Please share in the comments below, or tell us on Twitter using the hashtag #emmatwitip.