Twitter, it is every marketer’s favourite social network, but at the same time, it has become harder and harder as a small business to make it work for you. With over 330 million monthly active users it could be a traffic goldmine for your organisation. However, there are also 500 million tweets send out every day, so how can you get your tweets seen? Should you still invest in it?
Just like LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, there are lots of different ways you can use it for your business, but at the same time, there are lots of companies struggling to make Twitter work as effectively as it used to be in the past.
So what is Twitter marketing? The beautiful thing about Twitter is that it is whatever you want it to be.
Want to learn more about your customers? Bring a human touch to your brand? Build buzz about your new product? Provide super-fast customer support? Start cleaning up after a PR disaster? Hold a group chat, and educating your customers? It doesn’t matter what your marketing goals are; there is a pretty significant change Twitter has got you covered.
There is no question that Twitter can be a very potent tool to help you achieve your marketing objectives.
The problem though is that it might sound a bit overwhelming, you’ve got no idea where to start, or maybe you’ve already started, but you’re having trouble getting your business objectives.
No matter at which stage you are, this guide will help you either get started from scratch or guide you to the next level of using Twitter to grow your business, traffic and sales.
Table of Contents
- What is Twitter and what makes it so unique?
- Setting up Twitter for your Business
- Step 1: Creating an account
- Step 2: Start talking and engaging
- Step 3: Start following other people
- Step 4: Drive traffic to your website
- Step 5: Let the world know
- Step 6: Standing out
- Step 7: Using hashtags
- Step 8: Organising followers to conversation lists
- Step 9: Finding local customers to engage with
What is Twitter and what makes it so unique?
First things first, if you’re new to this whole social media marketing thing and you might have heard the name Twitter sometime before on the news but you never really used it before, what is Twitter and what makes it so unique?
At its origin, Twitter is a short message communication platform that allows you to send out messages (or Tweets) up to 280 characters (it used to be 140, but that officially changed in November 2017) to people who subscribe to you (the followers).
Your Tweet can include a link to any web content (think of your blog posts, pages on your websites, etc.) or a photograph or video. Just like people can follow you, you can follow other people as well. This allows you to read, reply to and easily share their Tweets with your followers (retweet).
However, next to this basic use Twitter has grown to so much more over the more than ten years of its existence. Twitter can be anything you want or make it to be. But before you can do that, you first have to create an account.
Setting up Twitter for your Business
Step 1: Creating an account
In an always-connected mobile-first world, of course, you don’t need to use your desktop computer to create a Twitter account (Twitter is even used for 80% using mobile), but if you want some ease of use setting up your account, choosing the right pictures for your profile, etc. we still recommend using your computer.
Your Twitter account and profile are the foundation of your Twitter experience for your followers. It’s your chance to tell your business story to the Twitter community and will most of the time be one of the first contact points when someone is figuring out if they want to follow you (or not).
As a result, It is important that your Twitter presence have the same look and feel as your other presences online. This helps people identify your business and builds trust. So, choose an account name and images consistent with your other online presences and your brand.
Basic account setup
Let’s start by going Twitter.com where you will be greeted with a blank page, where you can give your email address, come up with a password and leave your real name.
After that first step, you will be asked for your phone number as an extra layer of security for your account (optional):
And to come up with a Twitter handle or username. On Twitter, your username, or handle, is your identity. If you can, sign up for Twitter by using your name or a variation of it as your username (assuming somebody else isn’t already using it).
That’s it your done; you just created your account. Twitter will now ask you for topics you’re interested in and will give you the opportunity to start already following suggested accounts or accounts of the people you already know by connecting your Gmail or Outlook email accounts.
We suggest you skip these for now. People will get a notification when you follow them, and it is better to show a full, interesting profile to them when they figure out who is following them instead of the empty profile your profile is still right now.
At a later stage, you can always still use the “Find people you know” button located on the right side of your profile page. This will give you the option to find people you already know using your address book from either Gmail or Outlook.
Profile image and background image
Now that you’ve created your account (don’t forget to hit that confirmation email), it is time to make your profile visually more appealing and in line with your brand…
Twitter uses two different images to make your account represent your brand. It’s essential that you take advantage of both of these images to tell your business story.
Your Twitter profile photo is a circular photo that appears next to every tweet you send. You can use either your company logo or your headshot for your profile photo.
If you’re a really small business, we might suggest using your business name as the name for your account, but using a personal photo for the profile photo, this adds a personal touch and might resonate better with your customers.
The second picture you need to upload is the Twitter header photo; this is a large background photo. The big screen real-estate give you enough space to tell a story about your business maybe. Similar to the cover you have on your Facebook company page, this visual will appear at the top of your profile page.
If you go to your profile, you will be greeted with a beautiful empty profile. By clicking on the “edit profile” button, your profile transforms into an easy way to upload the new profile picture and header photo.
While you’re still editing your profile, don’t forget to add your location. Especially for a local business, this can help build a stronger connection with your potential audience. But remember, Twitter is a global phenomenon, if people from another city or country are visiting your profile, they might not recognise your specific neighbourhood or community name.
So go specific, but not so specific that people don’t have enough information anymore to be able to find you.
Of course, you want people that visit your profile also ending up as visitors to your site. By adding your website or link to your blog, you make it easy for people to find out more about your business.
Maybe put a link to a special landing page for people coming from your Twitter profile? This is a great way to welcome those visitors to your site and make them feel right at home.
Next, to your visual brandings like your profile picture and your header photo, your bio might be one of the most critical items on your profile. It gives you the opportunity to tell the people viewing your profile precisely who you are what you do.
You’ve only got 160 characters though, so skip the mission statement and talk about the benefits you deliver. Why would someone want to follow you? And while you’re at it, add a little personality to help your profile stand out even more from the crowd.
Step 2: Start talking and engaging
Your profile is complete, and you might feel the urge to start following a lot of accounts to let the world know that you’re alive (and in the hopes of them following you back). But hold your horses a little bit longer, your profile is still empty on one important point, and that is the tweets itself.
If you’re used to communicating on Facebook or LinkedIn for your small business, you’re probably used to maybe sending out one post per day or maybe even every couple of days. Talking on Twitter though is something completely different. It is a fast-paced place where people share ideas, parts of sentences, quotes from others, etc. At first glance, it might look a bit hectic, almost like a bar, but that’s where the charm lies with Twitter.
For a lot of people hitting that publish or Tweet button might feel a bit scary at first, give yourself some time though. Try using the search function of Twitter to search for people talking about words that you use in your business as well and start engaging or Tweeting with them. Getting yourself familiar with sending out tweets.
So, how can you engage with your audience or how can you talk on Twitter? Well basically there are five types of Twitter messages:
Let’s first start with the basics; a Tweet is a message that you posted on the network. It can contain either some text, pictures, a GIF and/or a video or a combination of these.
@replies and mentions
When you see someone else posting something interesting you can send a reply to that person, or if you want to talk to people directly you can send an @reply to them. The @reply is a public message that mentions the Twitter username of the person you’re replying to or sending a Tweet towards.
Everyone who follows both of you will see this message in their streams, and it will appear on the notifications tab of the person you’re talking to.
If you want to say something to someone and you want the Tweet to not just appear in the timeline of everyone who follows both, be sure to start your tweet with a dot, and it also appears to everyone just following you.
Direct Message (DM)
Sometimes you want to send something in private to another person; this is where Direct Messages (DM’s) come into play. A direct message allows you to send something to another Twitter user who appears in a special private place. Although it used to be that you could only do this to people who follow you, nowadays you can send a DM to everyone (unless they specifically blocked this in their settings).
Direct Messages are also a great way to form a group chat with your most loyal customers straight on Twitter. You can start a private conversation or create a group conversation with anyone who follows you.
Anyone who is in the group can send DM’s to the group, and everyone in the group can see all messages, even if everyone doesn’t follow each other. Lastly, anyone in your group conversation can add other participants, newly added members won’t see the history from before they joined though.
Retweets (RT) and Quoted Tweets
A Retweet (RT) or Quoted Tweet is a message created and sent by someone else that you think is relevant to your audience as well. You can hit the RT button, and it gives you the option to RT something straight away or add a comment and quote the Tweet of the other person.
This is a great way to share relevant content or endorse what your customers are saying about you.
The last type of Tweets that are relevant to your business are Promoted Tweets. Just like boosting a post on Facebook, you can also use Twitter’s Ad platform to promote a tweet to reach a bigger audience.
Step 3: Start following other people
Of course, if you’re not following anyone else on Twitter, your timeline could look a bit lonely. Now that you’ve got your Twitter account created, you know your basic on how to Tweet and how to engage with other people, it is time to start following them.
When you follow someone on Twitter, you subscribe to what they are sharing on the platform. Try finding relevant people using Twitter search or by connecting your Gmail or Outlook address book as described earlier to start following your first set of people.
To follow someone, all you need to do is visit their profile and hit that Follow button. Although there are certain Chrome extensions out there that lets you automatically follow all the followers of another account (let’s say your competitors) be careful to use these since they are against the policy of Twitter.
Take it slow, start following relevant people and start engaging with the ones that follow you back. After all, you don’t want to get your account suspended in the first week because of violating their policies.
As a business there are a couple of categories of interesting people you might consider following:
- Your customers
- Your business partners, suppliers, contractors, basically anyone who you work with
- Your competitors or peers
- Professional organisations linked to your industry
- If you’re a local business, be sure to follow business in your neighbourhood as well
- People from your existing professional network
If all goes well you should start to get your first sets of followers back by now as well, don’t be afraid if it is also people you’ve never met before, be kind to them, welcome them with a personal message to your online following and start engaging with them.
Step 4: Drive traffic to your website
Although the first line of business on any social network is being social, being helpful to your followers, it doesn’t sometimes hurt to share some of your content as well to help drive traffic back to your website.
Twitter is a great tool for this; you can do this by simply typing a good reason why your particular piece of content will bring value to the reader, add your link and don’t forget to add a Call-To-Action (CTA) in your copy that will make your readers want to read the entire piece.
When sharing yours and other links on Twitter it is always best practice to use a URL shortener because of the limited space offered in a Tweet. Next, to the added benefit of having more characters available in your Tweet for the surrounding copy, there are also URL shorteners available that give you some nice extra options.
One of our favourites is Meteor; Meteor gives you the option to automatically have everyone who clicks a link you share to be added to a retargeting pool on Facebook. They shorten any link, and they’ll include a Facebook Pixel, which in turns helps you grow your custom audience on Facebook every time someone clicks. Simple, but effective!
Promotional tools like Quuu, Hiplay, Buffer Power Scheduler
Sharing a link to a content piece you created is a great way to start getting more traffic to your website. However, you might not be getting everything you can from each piece of content you’re creating and sharing via Twitter.
Twitter is a fast-paced medium, and with so much awesome content shared on Twitter every day, it is impossible to see it all. And the same is true of your content. There is a high probability that although your audience is enjoying reading your articles or seeing your tweets, they are likely missing out on most of them because they are just not online all the time.
If you’re serious about content marketing, then you also need to be serious about driving as much traffic as possible to these pieces of content. For us here at Inbound Rocket we do this in three different ways:
There is so much content shared on social media every day that it’s impossible to see it all! The same is true of your content. Chances are, as much as your audience might enjoy reading your articles or seeing your latest tweet, they are likely missing out on most of them. That is why it could be vital to re-share your content multiple times, to ensure the people who missed it the first time, might see it the second or third time around.
The first one is easy and pretty straightforward. Quuu Promote lets you promote your content to an ever growing highly targeted audience base.
Quuu promote is the business backend for Quuu, and Quuu gives their members content suggestions based on the categories that they want to share content about with their audience (a great tool in itself to find highly curated content for your audience to share).
By submitting your content using Quuu promote, they validate the quality internally, and if it is found like a great piece of content, it will be added to the content suggestions of Quuu. One submission gets your content easily get a couple of hundred or more additional shares; it is well worth the investment. (Starting at $40 per month).
The second tool we love is Hiplay. Hiplay lets you create a list of your evergreen content and slowly adds those pieces of content one by one (on a schedule you create) to your Buffer profile.
This way, you can automatically re-post your best content to the Buffer queue and make sure that even in months from the first release of your piece of content you’re still giving it the love it deserves.
Buffer Power Schedule
When a new piece of content goes live, you want it to get seen by your audience. That’s why it is vital to re-share your content multiple times in that first couple of days. This ensures that people who missed it the first time might see it the second or third time around.
That is why our final tip is a bit in line with Hiplay. Just like Hiplay give you the ability to share your content on social media more than once over the long term, the Buffer Power Schedule can take care of that in the short term.
If you’ve got the buffer extension installed in your browser the only thing you have to do is click the “power scheduler” button after you click on the buffer extension to share your piece.
This will then give you the option to add it now, in 8 hours, in a day and in 7 days after scheduling it for the first time. A great way to make sure your content gets seen by all your followers, instead of just the once being online the moment you shared it first.
Never share the same message twice though. You don’t want your posts to become monotonous for your followers. The best strategy for using the Power Scheduler is to add some variety by asking questions or including quotes from the article itself.
So the first time you share it, it can be just the article title with a visual and designator that it is a new post. The second time you share it, you will ask a question, the third time you cite a fact, the fourth time you can share a quote, etc.
Step 5: Let the world know
You’re on the right track, your Tweeting, you’re engaging with your (non) followers, and you’re sharing great content. The next step is letting the world know that you’re active on Twitter.
You can do this in a couple of different ways.
Add your Twitter account information on your website and blog
Next, to the other social icons, you have for your other social media accounts. Most of the social follow tools and plugins for websites allow you to easily add this information to your website, or maybe the theme you’re using supports this out of the box, so it is even easier.
Include your Tweets on your website or blog
If you want extra exposure on the content you Tweet, you can also use the previously mentioned toolkit from Twitter to create an embedded box to showcase all your latest tweets on your website.
This is a great way to share your Twitter conversations with your website visitors, getting double exposure from the same effort. Before blindly adding all your Tweets to your website though, be sure that it makes sense from your business perspective and the goals you have for your site though.
It might be worthwhile to be selective about the tweets you share on your website, by for example only showing tweets that contain a certain hashtag.
You’ve probably already had a set of sharing buttons on your website, and in case you didn’t have a Twitter button with them yet, now it is time to add one. Don’t forget to include your Twitter handle in the settings, so that when people share your content, your account is linked to it and people know that it comes from you.
You can also use our Inbound Rocket plugin and activate our selection sharer power-up which allows people to select a piece of copy on your website and share it as they do on Medium as well.
Which way you choose, make sure that you allow your visitors to share a tweet about your content easily, share it with their followers and give credit to your Twitter account.
Step 6: Standing out
While Twitter is for sure an amazing social network, that can bring lots of value to your business, the amount of tweets getting delivered every second is staggering. Even if you followed the above steps, making your Tweets stand out from the crowd, from all the other accounts that your followers are following can be difficult.
So how can you get heard in such a fast-paced world, especially when everyone is trying to do the same?
Let’s focus on four different ways to make your Tweets stand out from the crowd.
Why tell your followers, when you can also show them?
A lot of people on Twitter are ignoring the potential for sharing photos on their profiles. Sure, the original promise of the website is a microblogging platform, it wasn’t meant to be used like this. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the capability though.
People like visual content as much on Twitter as Facebook or Instagram adopters. By including relevant images, you can catch the eye of your followers and encourage engagement. Especially when sharing photos of people, for example, you can tag up to 10 people per image.
Video’s and Personal video messages
Just like with photo’s, the popularity (and effectiveness) of multimedia, in general, continues to grow on Twitter. A survey from Twitter in 2015 already found that 82% of their users are watching video content on Twitter and that they wanted to see more videos from celebrities, other users and brands. So why no offer your followers what they are asking for?
Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing 2017 report, has similar video numbers as the one supplied by Twitter in 2015. They say that 79% of consumers are rather watching a video to learn about a product than learning by reading text on a page. Even higher (84%) of consumers were even convinced to make a purchase after watching a video by a brand.
Why not make full use of this on your Twitter account? You can create your videos and upload them, create small video responses as a personalised thank you message to your followers, retweet relevant video content your followers might find valuable or even use things like Periscope (part of Twitter) to live stream events.
If you’re adding photographs, video’s, of course, you can’t go without using GIF’s as well. According to Twitter a 100 million GIF’s where shared on Twitter in 2016. When you are unable to record a personal message on video, at least use one of the little-animated GIFS in your communication.
With GIF support build in, right to the mobile client, it is easier than ever, so what are you waiting for!
The last item in our list to use to help your business stand out on Twitter is the use of hosting a Twitter chat. Hosting one lets you better engage with your followers and customer while at the same time build a community and get a higher reach.
As a result, Twitter chats are a great way to grow your social following, generate valuable discussions and feedback and help you to demonstrate your thought leadership for your domain. All you need is a proper hashtag (more on that in the next item), a host (could be yourself or you could invite different people from your industry), a topic, and a date and time.
If you want to do it well, set a recurring date, like every second Tuesday of the month and announce it up front to your followers and email subscribers to help generate buzz. And if you’re not up for hosting one yourself yet, try figuring out relevant Twitter chats in your industry and join them to showcase your thought leadership.
Aah hashtags, finally we can start talking about them. Hashtags are one of the best ways to increase exposure to your tweets AND find potential relevant leads to start engaging with. Without the use of hashtags, your followers would probably be the only ones to see your tweets.
Hashtags enable you to classify your Tweets so that your content is grouped with other relevant Twitter content around the same subject. This helps other Twitter users to find your content quickly, just as it can help you to find influencers and others in your industry.
If you’re using hashtags, anyone can search for that specific hashtag and quickly come across your tweets, and as a result, it allows your Tweets to reach an audience far beyond your standard followers.
So how do you identify the best ones for your organisation?
Using tools like Twitonomy you can identify the hashtags of influencers, then using hashtagify you can identify related hashtags for the ones you identified with Twitonomy. Finally, by using Ritetag, you can identify the Tweet density for the hashtags you identified to pick out the little gems that are best to use for your business.
Step 8: Organising followers to conversation lists
After some time when you start to follow more and more people, it might be challenging to focus on all the information coming your way from all the accounts that you’re following. This is where Twitter lists come in.
A Twitter list helps you to separate the Twitter accounts you follow into separate groups. Setting up lists is fairly simple and can be very helpful to quickly read all the tweet from your top customers or from press agencies that you’re following.
Besides the difference between a normal list (a person gets notified when you add them to a list, the list is public, and other people can follow your list) or a private list (a person doesn’t get a notification that they are on the list, the list is private and just for yourself), there are not much more things to know.
The options, however, are endless, you can use it to connect with all the people who attend your company events, to monitor your competitors etc. you can even add people to a list without following them!
Some ideas for building your lists, why not start by building a list for your:
- Potential customers
- Business in your neighbourhood or community
- Professional or trade organisations
- People who inspire you
- People you talk with the most
- Your competitors
By using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck, you can easily create separate timelines just for your lists. This helps you to distinguish the most interesting people for your business from the crowd so you can pay extra attention to what they are saying.
Step 9: Finding local customers to engage with
The last item we want to focus on for you and your business is finding local customers to engage with. A lot of time, the internet focuses on the entire world, you can engage with people on the other side of the globe. And even though that is true, one of the strengths of Twitter is also the ability to focus on the things happening in your neighbourhood.
Not all businesses are operating on a global scale, and those people are local to local customers. Twitter is there to help you find potential customers who live and work near your business.
Using Twitter Advanced Search, you can identify these people and start engaging with them. For this, to work you need to enable location sharing on your account, but after that, you can the “Near this place” feature to find your potential customers.
Use these search results to find people who could be potential customers. You can follow them or add them to your potential local customer’s lists. It is the first step, so you can start engaging with them and building those relationships.
That’s it, your first introduction to using Twitter for successful business marketing. Following these nine steps will help you to grow your business on Twitter, increase website traffic and in the end increase your sales.
This is just the beginning though, the possibilities with Twitter are endless, and if you think outside the box, you can easily think of more use cases to use Twitter within your organisation. Start measuring your Twitter performance to identify what works and what doesn’t work with your following. Learn which type of Tweets are more effective than others.
Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote. You want to be a helpful guide, helping your potential customers improve their day. This can be done by bringing a smile to their face, or by giving solid advice, but whatever you do always keep building a community in the back of your mind.
What do you think? Are you ready to give Twitter a(nother) try? Are you ready to start engaging with your fans and (potential) customers? Share your most defining Twitter moments in the comments below!