Twitter is a household name in the world of digital marketing, but it is still highly underutilized as an important piece of strategy. Facebook may be the largest and most active social network, but Twitter has the ability to break down communication barriers that other forms of social and traditional media cannot. The power of Twitter lies in its simplicity. If you're new to Twitter, it may seem like navigating a foreign country. But, these best practices will turn you into a Twitter Pro.
1. Listen before you tweet.
500 million tweets are sent per day. It's impossible to read them all, but you can use Twitter's search bar (just like a search on Google) to find people tweeting about specific topics - or even your brand! Another great way to scale listening is by using Tweetdeck. In 2011, Twitter acquired Tweetdeck and it's a great tool for monitoring your Twitter mentions in realtime as well as multiple search feeds for keywords relevant to you. Responding to others' tweets can be even more powerful than broadcasting new tweets and you can't respond without listening first.
For retailers, Twitter is a great tool to support customer service and integrate customers into the brand experience. Be sure to heavily involve your customer service team in your Twitter strategy and planning. Turn negative experiences into positive ones by finding customer feedback both direct and indirect on Twitter, escalating and resolving the issue. And, don’t forget to thank customers for Tweeting positive feedback. Consider creating short, personalized Thank You videos on YouTube and tweeting the video URL at the customer.
2. Tweet human.
You are what you say and how you say it. There's no need to be overly formal or sound like a TV ad on Twitter. Talk to your customers on Twitter the same way you would if they walked into your store. Your voice can affect the way customers communicate with you on Twitter, so make sure it represents the personality of your business. Make it conversational. Write a tweet like you're having a conversation with a good friend. Stay away from "marketing speak." People seek education and entertainment online. Use Twitter as a way to provide it in a meaningful way.
3. Use hashtags.
A hashtag is created on Twitter by adding the hash symbol (#) before words or phrases in tweets to categorize them for others or to organize conversations around a theme. Users can click on hashtags to see similarly-themed Tweets. Placing hashtags in your tweets will increase the discoverability of your content. It's important to be selective when using hashtags. So, don't do this:
#Checkout this #sweetdeal – get it #todayonly and don’t forget to #sharewithfriends. #bestdealever #dontmissit
Use 1-2 per tweet (3 can be ok sometimes). Do a few searches on Twitter to find hashtags that are being used more commonly (or uncommonly if you are trying to create a unique hashtag for your brand).
Another great way to use hashtags is by starting a Twitter chat. Center the conversation around a topic or interest important to your audience. Add value by inviting topic experts to co-host the chat. Schedule your chats to happen on a weekly or biweekly basis so that your audience knows to keep coming back for high-value conversations.
4. Engage your audience.
It's important to find and follow your audience on Twitter. When you see their tweets in your timeline, seize opportunities to engage them. Reply to their tweet if you have a good response. Retweet their tweet if it's something you think your audience would like to see. Favorite their tweet if you like what they said, but it doesn't require a reply. Favoriting is the most underutilized action on Twitter and it's a highly effective engagement tactic.
A great engagement tactic for retailers on Twitter is to favorite tweets from customers' checkins at your retail locations using location-based social networking platforms like Foursquare.
5. Find your "tweet spot."
How often should I tweet? What time should I tweet? These are common questions that brands ask when they are developing a Twitter strategy. There is no perfect formula to a tweet schedule. Try tweeting once a day to start. Download the Twitter app on your phone so that you can tweet on the go or schedule tweets to publish in the future using a tool like Tweetdeck. Over time, you'll hit your tweeting stride and learn what works for you.
Try scheduling tweets between 8pm and 10pm and measuring their conversion rate. This is a great time to capture customers' attention while they are browsing the web at peak online shopping hours.
6. Don't count followers.
Having a load of followers is great if you are news source or other type of media publication. But for most businesses, the number of followers you have doesn't really matter. It's all about interactions - not only the quantity of interactions, but also the quality. Focus more on nailing down opportunities to engage 1-on-1 with people or other businesses than growing your follower base.
7. Want it? Ask for it!
A great way to gain organic reach on Twitter is when followers retweet your content. Adding a simple request to RT (retweet) a post goes a long way. Don't ask your followers to retweet every post. Save the requests for the best tweets and ones that drive traffic to your site. Asking for a retweet can increase your chances of getting one by up to 23x.
8. Be relevant.
Twitter happens in real time so there are plenty of opportunities to guide conversations when they are most relevant to users. Keep your messages timely by tweeting relevant tweets during events or breaking news.
Holiday-centric messaging is another great way to keep your tweets relevant. Create a calendar of holidays ranging from Mother's Day to Talk Like a Pirate Day and plan content around these days. You could even offer deals on these days to incentivize your followers and further engage them in the holiday festivities. For example, Talk Like a Pirate Day's coupon code is ARGH or WALKTHEPLANK.
9. Post photos.
Pictures perform really well on Twitter and take up a lot of space in the timeline when auto-displayed. On average, tweets with photos get double the engagement. Twitter makes it easy to share photos from any location. Tweet real images of your products and watch how fast it gets retweeted. By real images, we mean sans studio production or Photoshop. People respond well to real images on Twitter. It invokes transparency and makes your brand more relatable.
10. Flock to unlock.
Incentivize followers to share your tweets by retweeting to unlock exclusive content or a great deal. Find an incentive your followers will love. Do some research by asking followers what their favorite product or feature is. Drum up anticipation by tweeting when your campaign will launch. Follow up with countdowns and campaign mentions (including hashtags and retweets) to gain visibility and boost excitement. After launching the campaign, stay engaged. Tweet specific instructions on how to redeem the deal or access the content. This message will have greater reach, so make sure it's clear. Fuel your campaign with progress tweets in real-time, telling followers when they're close to reaching the goal. When they reach the goal number of retweets, give your followers the reward. You can embed the content/deal into the tweet itself or drive them to your website.
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