A Beginner’s Guide To Twitter Marketing

In 2006, Twitter swept the world by storm. Twitter was first welcomed mostly by the social media and blogging communities, but brands soon recognized its worth. Twitter is now widely used.

Twitter appears to be a lot of individuals dropping links and talking about nothing essential at first sight. But, before dismissing Twitter as a waste of time, consider the benefits of Twitter and how you can use it as a significant marketing tool – because, make no mistake, Twitter can completely transform a business.

In this article, we discuss the benefits of Twitter and how you can use it to raise brand awareness and drive traffic and sales.

What Is a Twitter Marketing Strategy?

For marketers, Twitter marketing has evolved into a complex channel. At times, it can be overwhelming. As a marketing channel, Twitter has become extremely effective. In order to be a Twitter-savvy marketer, one must communicate with the audience in real-time while accurately explaining their business. No one cares about the latest trending issue and would rather read interesting material. This is a critical time to plan out your marketing strategy.

As with any platform, Twitter marketing requires time, effort, and clever approaches. You may have a hard time keeping your audience interested in your material.

The key to making the most of Twitter is developing a successful and competent Twitter marketing strategy. By setting appropriate media goals, you can engage your audience in your brand’s content. Throughout this comprehensive guide, I provide methods for developing a captivating Twitter marketing strategy.

How Does Twitter Marketing Benefit Your Business?

Twitter is one of the best places to stay up to date on the latest trends and conversations. It enables you to discover which TV shows people are watching, as well as which social media challenges they are attempting.

Below we’ll go over why Twitter is important for business and how you can make the most of it.

1. Build a community

The best reason to join any social network is to build a network of friends and supporters. Your community is made up of people with whom you create trust and relationships because they see you as approachable. These are the folks who will have your back.

2. Find new customers

You now have the capacity to access a global market thanks to the Internet. Twitter allows you to connect with millions of new individuals. Every person you interact with has the ability to reach out to others. You may convert all of your reach into sales.

3. Have a conversation

The ability to sell without sounding like you’re selling is the best feature of Twitter and other social networks. It’s referred to as conversational marketing, and it is exactly what it sounds like. 

People learn about who you are and what you do when you converse with your friends and followers. When they need someone who does what you do, they are more likely to contact you. They might even like you so much that they buy what you’re offering merely to help a friend.

Twitter chats also allow you to discuss topics at length or bring in special guests. They’re another way to interact with your community. 

4. Offer customer support

Many individuals use Twitter to contact their favorite brands with queries about a product or service, or to seek guidance or technical support. Twitter is another option to stay in touch with your customers. You may also use Twitter to do searches and ensure that your consumers are not experiencing any problems.

5. Promote your content

Did you just write up a killer blog post? Are you releasing a new video? Do you want to let folks know about a new product launch? Twitter is an awesome tool for promoting new items.

6. Promote brand visibility

When people see your logo on Twitter and they see you communicating with customers and other Twitter friends, they feel confident in the brand. They like the human element and especially knowing that when they reach out to you on social networks, you’ll be there to respond.

Twitter Profile Setup Strategy

No outstanding Twitter strategy is complete without a profile that knocks your customers’ socks off. So let us get started with some must-know tips on how to set it up and optimize it.

1. Top Twitter username, and a tip for the “Name” box

Your Twitter username is extremely important, as it will make up part of your Twitter profile URL – the address you’ll put on all of your marketing material to direct people to follow you on the social network. Try to keep your username short, simple, and memorable.

Most companies use their brand name as their username so that their address reads www.twitter.com/yourbusinessname.

Unlike most other sites, Twitter will allow you to change your username as many times as you like via its Settings menu, but it’s worth remembering that if you’ve publicized one username for a while, unexpectedly switching to a new one would not make good business sense.

Note: Although Twitter says ‘Enter your real name, so that people can recognize you’, this is not the best practice for businesses. Here, enter your brand or business name, as it will appear right at the top of your Twitter profile in big, bold letters.

2. Write an engaging Twitter Bio, use real names

Because your Twitter profile is likely to show towards the top of web search results for your person or business name, it’s critical that you use its 160-character bio correctly (the bio text is used as the search link’s description and, of course, appears on your Twitter profile).

Use the limited space to tell people who you are, what you do, and why they should follow you; use an upbeat tone to reflect Twitter’s fun and conversational nature; and if you’re an individual, single “descriptor” words separated by commas, lines, or hyphens (e.g. globetrotter | entrepreneur | wine lover…”) are common space savers.

If you’re a firm, put the genuine name of the person in charge of your Twitter account so that customers feel like they’re speaking to a person rather than a faceless brand.

If you have space, you might also include a URL, @mentions to other accounts you are involved with, and even a brand or industry-related hashtag – just make sure the latter doesn’t detract from the readability and balance of the bio as a whole.

3. Upload an effective Twitter profile image

Ditch the default Twitter avatar and use a photo of yourself or brand logo. You could even combine the two, but make sure that a face is clearly visible – Twitter’s one-to-one interactions mean that people will identify much more closely with a profile that displays a person’s smiling face rather than the dreaded default ‘egg’ image or something similarly anonymous.

Twitter recommends that your profile image be uploaded at 400 x 400 pixels. To edit your header image, click the “Edit profile” button on your page and then “Change your profile photo.”

4. Create a custom Twitter header image

In April 2014, Twitter rolled out a new version of its desktop profiles, complete with a big 1500 x 500 pixel Facebook-esque header image – a large banner that spans the whole width of the page, ripe for customizing with your own design.

Although a majority of Twitter users now access the site via mobile devices, there’s certainly no harm in making sure your desktop profile captures the imagination of the still-millions of people that browse on desktops.

How you choose to fill the header image is up to you, but tactics similar to Facebook – simple branding, highlighting promotions, featuring customers, etc. are a few of the most common strategies. To edit your header image, click the “Edit profile” button on your page and then “Change your header image.”

5. Create a custom Twitter background image

In previous versions of Twitter for desktop, users could upload a custom design that spanned the whole width of the profile page’s background.

Although this is no longer possible on the “home” page of a Twitter profile, you can still insert a background image to appear when someone clicks on an individual tweet to view it (and the conversation attached to it) on a separate page.

Although the eyeballs this portion of your Twitter profile’s branding will be considerably less than that your cover photo, the people that do click individual tweets are, by nature, probably more interested in what you have to say, so the background customization here might appeal to them more than the average Twitter user.

6. Should you post your Tweets to Facebook?

Your Twitter profile settings include the option to send your tweets automatically to the wall of your Facebook Page. Whether you decide to use this is personal preference – but my advice would be to avoid it, for several reasons.

Chances are that you are going to be posting on Twitter much more regularly than Facebook, so you risk the chance of spamming (and upsetting) your Facebook fans. Secondly, you want people to be fans of you on Twitter AND Facebook, and to be able to offer both audiences a unique, valuable experience. They won’t come to Twitter if they can get it all on Facebook.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, automated posts (whether written by hand or produced by a bot) are never received as well as a post that is individually crafted for its intended audience. The ways you communicate with your Twitter and Facebook audiences are different, so it’s best to keep them separate.

7. Tell customers when you’re available to help

Lots of customers now turn to Twitter to help solve their problems with a company, and expect a prompt reply when tweeting – studies place the expected response time at around 30 minutes or less! If you intend to use Twitter as an outlet to handle customer service queries, then it is a good idea to let people know when you will be on hand to answer questions.

Is it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, between 9AM and 5PM EST Monday to Friday? Or just ‘as soon as we can’? To help reassure customers that you will respond and provide clear expectations, include information about when you will respond, and how long it will take, within your Twitter Bio or as part of your profile’s cover photo design.

Twitter Marketing and Content Strategy

How’s that Twitter profile looking? Pretty good? Great! Now let’s look at some content strategies to help your brand presence on Twitter shine…

1. Concoct the perfect tweet, add a sign off

Spelling, punctuation and grammar all count, especially when you only have 140 characters to communicate your point in a single tweet. Practice writing the perfect tweet, and always double-check for errors.

While it might be tempting to use text speak to cram as much as you can into Twitter’s 140- character limit, doing so is at best unprofessional, and at worst makes your tweets unreadable.

If you have multiple tweeters on the same account, be sure to allow space to add a ‘sign off’ at the end of each tweet, e.g. initials like “^AM”, so customers are clear who they are corresponding with. And as consumers want to know who they’re interacting with, why not include a photo of the people responding to users’ inquiries in your Twitter cover design too?

2. Don’t exceed the tweet limit

Wherever possible, do not allow your Twitter statuses to spill over into multiple tweets, as this makes it confusing for your followers to keep track of what you are trying to say, especially if they have a really busy Twitter feed, where your updates may appear sandwiched between tweets appearing from other people that they follow.

If there is no way that you can keep a Twitter update to 140 characters or fewer, consider using a service like TwitLonger (http://www.twitlonger.com/) as a workaround. This site allows you to type as long a message as you like.

When you submit the message, it will be sent out to your followers using your Twitter account. The first portion will be visible, then a URL will be displayed to allow followers to click through to read the full message at the Twitlonger website.

3. Tweets: aim for quality and consistency; don’t spam

Don’t post tweets every minute of the day, spamming your followers’ feeds and annoying them enough to unfollow you – be sparing.

Independent research has shown that posting more than two or three tweets an hour can result in a decrease in engagement, while Twitter’s own research found that brands that tweet two to three times a day can usually reach an audience that is equal to 30% of their follower base during any given week.

Of course, a lot of factors can affect this estimation (e.g. if one particular tweet goes viral and the rest do not), and you can measure this with the site’s analytics tool, but the principal stands – quality always trumps quantity.

4. Tweet your top content several times, schedule for ease

Twitter does, theoretically, show people all of the tweets from people who follow an account, but the site is so dynamic and fast-moving, and people also check them at different times of the day, that your content can easily be missed.

To help prevent this, don’t be afraid to post the same content under different guises, several times a day (i.e. experiment with unique wording and different headlines for the same article one or two hours apart, then note which wording performed best).If you produce a lot of valuable “evergreen” blog content, i.e. that which will remain useful no matter its age, use a service like Buffer (www.bufferapp.com) to schedule and automatically post tweets linking to this content periodically. 

Note: On Twitter, many people simply share the title of a blog post followed by the link. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but you might also want to experiment with other methods to lead into the content and to see if they garner more clicks and engagement. These including sharing a short quote from the article, giving a brief opinion, or asking a question about it – particularly through Twitter’s simple two-question Poll function (click the poll icon in the tweet box to set one up).

5. Share engaging content, use past success to shape future content

To help grow your followers and build relationships with customers, share the types of selfless and engaging content, including links to useful and interesting content (whether your own or by others).

Use Google Alerts to be notified of fun, fresh, and relevant content for your Twitter feed and followers. If you will be including a link to your own content within a tweet, always shorten it beforehand using a site like bit.ly.

Twitter will shorten links automatically, but using bit.ly also allows you to customize them for neatness and analyze the click-through rate, which is great for seeing what kind of content resonates best with your followers.

When using a shortened link on Twitter, double check that it works before posting. One broken link might mean a customer never clicks on your URLs again. To compound the impact of a tweet containing a link, upload an image with it to help it stand out within people’s news feeds.

Use a tool like My Top Tweet (http://www.mytoptweet.com) to discover your 10 most retweeted posts to date. Use this information to create new tweets based on what you discover, or recycle the content to get it in front of newer followers.

6. Use hashtags to group tweets, drive engagement, and research

Use #hashtags to group tweets of the same kind and to highlight your message. Top-trending hashtags appear on Twitter’s home page, and can easily be found via Twitter search. Tweets that include hashtags have been proven to receive twice as much engagement as those without, so their usage is vital.

Don’t include more than one or two hashtags per tweet, as it can get confusing for followers; engagement with tweets that include more than two hashtags tails off considerably, research shows. Short hashtags work best. #ilovechocolatecakeandeatiteveryday – a hashtag like this is difficult to read and eats up precious characters within your tweet.

In addition, use legible formatting. Symbols don’t work too well, and capitalizing words helps make hashtags a bit more readable, e.g. #BigSale rather than #bigsale. Here are some more important benefits of using hashtags on Twitter and other social networks:

To strengthen your brand identity: Use custom-made hashtags to bolster your brand identity and location, e.g. #billysburgers #BerwynIL respectively, especially useful when new customers click to learn more about you. Fans also love to show off what they’re up to with friends via text, image, and video updates. If you are holding an event or launching a new promotion, make sure these fan updates are tied together strongly by publicizing and encouraging the use of a representative hashtag before, during, and after.

To gather feedback and measure ROI: More than ever, users of Twitter and other social networks are tagging their updates with “emotion” hashtags, e.g. “Had an awesome meal at Betty’s Grill today! #stuffed #bestburgersever.” Whether the sentiments are good or bad, they can often give you a deeper insight into your brand image than you imagined. Hashtag search tools like Hashtagify (http://hashtagify.me) and Tagboard (https://www.tagboard.com) provide a way to find top recent tweets related to any given hashtag, conduct competitive hashtag analysis, and track hashtag use across different platforms.

To join in on conversations: In relation to the last point (and in the same way as you would use keywords in Twitter search to find ongoing conversations related to your business), use the hashtags and comments that you find associated with them to reach out to people: be helpful, offer suggestions and recommendations, etc,. as a way to build trust and authority – don’t be pushy or self-promotional. Be tactful with this approach, using our initiative to decide when it looks like someone wants to receive a reply, and when they might not. In summary, people who see a hashtag tend to click on it, explore it, use it in their own posts or even check out the person or brand that tweeted it, according to a 2013 study carried out by RadiumOne, so I would definitely recommend including them in your updates where relevant.

7. Pin important Twitter posts, use as marketing opportunity

If you want to spotlight a particular tweet, you can pin it to the top of your feed for extra visibility – all subsequent posts will appear below it. On the desktop version of Twitter, click on the three little dots underneath a tweet and choose “pin to your profile page.”

Use a pinned tweet to highlight one of your most engaged-with tweets, an important announcement, an upcoming event, a tweet that summarizes your brand and its mission, or a message that spurs emotion and encourages people to share and spread brand awareness through retweeting, e.g. something funny or inspirational.

8. Leave space to encourage tweet comments; fashion your own

As lots of people like to add their own comments to the back of someone else’s tweet (when retweeted via a program like Tweetdeck, for example) or a link shared to Twitter from an external website, I recommend that manually-typed tweets and those that are auto-created when someone hits the “Tweet” button next to a blog post or item on your website) do not exceed 120 characters wherever possible.

That leaves a retweeter 20 characters to add their own response. To frame this tactic as when it is you who is the tweeter or retweeter of someone’s opinion or cool link you’ve found, you can use the remaining space to express your reaction, e.g. “Love this by @janejones!” or pose a question to your followers, e.g. “Do you ever use this strategy?”

9. Promote and sell with the Twitter widget and Tweet button

Twitter has its own equivalent of the Facebook “Like” box, which shows a live preview of your Twitter stream’s latest activity, along with a “Follow” button and a box for users to tweet to you. Create yours at https://twitter.com/settings/widgets and embed it prominently on your website to attract new followers.

To increase website page views and to drive sales, you can also grab an official Twitter “Tweet” button to place above or below each of your blog posts, or next to products on your website (when someone tweets from the button, it will be seen by many of their followers who will be encouraged to take a look). Set one up at this link: https://about.twitter.com/resources/buttons.

When you set your “Tweet” button up, make sure to check the box to show the tweet count (the more times a post or product link has been tweeted, the more likely someone else is to share it too), and include a hashtag relevant to your brand that will automatically be added to the auto-generated tweet. However, you’ll want to switch up the “Share URL” and “Tweet text” options depending on whether the button will sit on a blog post or product page.

For blog posts: Set the Share URL option to use the page URL, use the title of the page for the tweet text, then enter your username into the via box. An example might read: “How to Use Snapchat Stories to Captivate Fans http://www.andrewmacarthy.com/-captivate-fans-with-snapchat-stories #snapchatmarketing via @andrewmacarthy.” The long URL will automatically be shortened by Twitter.

For product pages: Set the Share URL option to use the page URL, but customize the tweet text to read like the sharer is tweeting about the item personally, and not in over-promotional manner, e.g. “I love these stripy Craesa sneakers from Aldo #aldoshoes http://www.aldoshoes.com/women/shoes/trainers/30189991-craesa/16.” Again, the long URL will be automatically shortened upon tweeting.

10. Encourage retweets and social sharing using Tweet This

Short, helpful, and inspirational quotes are a brilliant way to market you and your business on Twitter, and one of the coolest ways to implement this strategy is via the free Tweet This website at http://dashburst.com/tweet-this/.

Here’s how it works:

1). Enter a quote from your blog or website that you want others to tweet.

2). Click the “Generate Tweet Link” button to create a custom link URL and embed code.

3). Share the link and/or get the embed code.

If you imagine the following quote is a part of one of my blog posts or a page on my website, the final result from Tweet This might look something like: “Consistency is one of the key strategies to rocking your social media strategy via @500socialmedia [Tweet This]”, where [“Tweet This”] is a clickable link that opens up the user’s Twitter account, pre-populates the status update box with my chosen quote, and is ready for them to share with all of their followers instantly.

Notice how I included my @username to add an element of attribution, which might also gain me some new custom. Another strategy for Tweet This involves using it on the “Confirmation” page that loads after a purchase on your website has taken place, as an opportunity to encourage someone who has just purchased to share their excitement about the transaction, e.g. “I just bought a copy of 500 Social Media Marketing Tips – I’ll be a pro in no time! #socialmediamarketing [product link].”

11. Respond to @mentions and DMs in a timely manner, and with personality

Whenever you receive notification of an @mention of your brand, be sure to respond as soon as possible. Replying to a customer or fan with a mention is a quick, easy, and hugely powerful way to make someone feel like you’re really paying attention; it makes them feel happy and appreciated and, in turn, promotes positive connotations towards your business.

Just think how lovely (and sometimes unexpected!) it feels to receive a quick thanks or comment from a brand or personality that you admire, and you’ll begin to realize the value in this approach. A lot of the bigger businesses don’t reply to a large proportion of brand mentions, and it hits their credibility hard.

People on social media like to connect with other people. So, try to fit in some brand personality to your replies where you can, using your tone of voice and mentioning the person by name.

It’s a great way to bring business accounts to life and truly connect with the customer. To go that extra mile where the situation calls for it, a follow-up tweet like a simple “Everything still good?” is a fantastic way to ensure that a customer’s issue is truly resolved.

As well as mentions, keep a close eye on any direct messages (DMs) you receive, and use them to respond to customers quickly and efficiently, too. 

In the past, Twitter users could only send a DM to someone if they followed them first, and both would need to follow each other for a two-way chat to occur.

By opting in to receive DMs from anyone, you make it easier for customers to initiate a private conversation with you – great for customer service issues that demand it, and stopping some negative interactions from being broadcast in the public Twitter feed, where everyone can see them. To opt-in, check the “Receive Direct Messages from anyone” box in your Twitter settings.

Note: If you start a tweet with “@username,” that tweet will be recognized as a reply and, in the main, will only be seen by the person you have mentioned. So, if you want a reply to be seen by everyone on the site, including your followers, be sure that the @mention is not right at the start of the tweet. One tactic used to do this on occasions where the @mention is best-placed at the beginning of a tweet is to precede it with a period, e.g. “[email protected])”.

12. Use Twitter Search to discover and connect with customers

Aside from direct @mentions of your brand (those which you’ll receive a notification about), use Twitter Search to find people who have indirectly mentioned your business name, website address, area of interest or expertise etc. and interact with them to begin building a meaningful connection – in many cases, they’ll be even more surprised and delighted that you have made the extra effort to reach out to them.

Don’t jump in all sales-y (even if it looks like the opportunity is there). Start a conversation, get to know your customer a little, and then, maybe a few tweets down the line, start to move the conversation towards your end goal.

Target your search by location and date in the Advanced Twitter search (https://twitter.com/search-advanced) for more localized and time-specific results, and use keywords within quotation marks and the minus symbol (-) to omit results with unwanted keywords, e.g. ‘”Paula’s Prom Dresses -tiara”‘ – any other Boolean search technique will also work.

One cool strategy is to use keywords associated with your business to find the problems which people are tweeting about, and target the issues that your business can solve.

Pair your company’s name or related ideas with words like “bad” or “sucks” to find people spouting negative feedback, and do the same using common misspellings of your brand name, @mentions, and a search for your domain name, e.g. “andrewmacarthy.com” to catch instances of people tweeting about your content. In addition, search using the question mark symbol (“?”) to look for questions related to your brand or industry.

On a similar note, make sure to filter search results to “Show All”, not just the “Top Tweets.” You never know, one single helpful tweet could lead to customer loyalty that lasts for years. Warble Alerts (http://warble.co) is a nifty tool that checks Twitter for the keywords and phrases you select.

Twitter search won’t display every tweet mentioning your keywords or hashtag that has ever existed, but it will look at a variety of types of engagement, such as favorites, retweets and clicks, to determine which Tweets to show. Although some mentions might be weeks or months old, it is still worth retweeting or engaging with them, as you never know where a dormant mention may lead.

Note: Upon searching and finding a Twitter user that you think your service can help, do not be overly aggressive in your attempts to connect or constantly tout your product or service as a solution – you risk doing more harm than good with this approach. Instead, your first few interactions should be sincere and helpful. Play the slow game; add value and your expertise to the conversation by passing along a helpful blog post, or simply asking questions and showing sympathy for the person’s predicament – make it the beginning of your sales funnel, not the last step. This strategy has been shown to be much more successful in building trust with potential customers, especially as your approach is essentially “cold calling.”

13. Save Twitter searches

Use the ‘Save search’ feature on Twitter to quickly access regular searches that you make, such as those searching for mentions of your brand name and keywords related to it.

To save a Twitter search:

1). Type your search query into the search box at the top of the page and hit return.

2). Click on the gear icon and select ‘Save search’ from the drop down menu.

To revisit a saved search:

1). Click anywhere in the search box at the top of the page. A list of your saved searches will appear below the search box.

2). Click on the saved search to revisit results for that query.

14. Search and ‘steal’ customers from the competition

If you have a local competitor, search for tweets mentioning their business name as well as your own.

I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend replying to the tweets you find, because it could come across as too being too desperate or forward, but just knowing what is being said about your competition can be enough to give you ideas to help you up your own game and give you a competitive edge.

If you do decide to respond to tweets mentioning your competitors (if the rival firm doesn’t ever reply, for example), be helpful and conversational with no put-downs and no hard selling. Hopefully your good grace will get the customer in question to switch allegiances.

15. Show appreciation with favorites

For a more subtle way to thank your followers for their kind words about your business, favorite a tweet by clicking the star icon next to it.

Not only is favoriting tweets an easy way to collate customer testimonials – or ‘save’ a tweet that you want to think about or investigate before replying to (they appear in the Favorites menu of your Twitter profile for easy reference) – but a user is also notified when one of their tweets is favorited. Different to retweeting, however, is that this notification is not shared publicly – only with the individual to whom it applies – so it looks a little less like you are tooting your own horn… not that it’s a bad thing to do very occasionally!

Some Twitter users favorite any tweet that happens to mention them, but as your Favorites are publicly visible via a link at the top of your profile, you may want to use it to collate messages in a more strategic way, such as a way to “wow!” anyone who happens to take a peek at the slew of amazing feedback you have received.

16. Thank your newest followers

When someone follows you, be sure to @reply to thank them if you have the time, or retweet something interesting from their feed – it’s a good icebreaker at the start of what, hopefully, will be a long relationship.

Don’t be tempted to use a tool to auto-thank users who follow, or send them promotional material. As a first impression, it doesn’t go down well at all. I usually say something like this to initiate conversation: “Hey, @newfollower, thanks for following! How are you doing today? Andrew.”

17. Use images to drive engagement, as a text replacement, and to tease offers

Tweets that included photos were found to be significantly more likely to be retweeted than those without. In addition, tweets containing pictures uploaded directly to the site are nearly twice as likely to be retweeted as those from external sources such as Instagram – the latter display as plain text links rather than appearing directly within the feed.

While images and uploaded to Twitter appear within the feed, they do not always display in their entirety. To stop the feed becoming too cluttered, photos over a certain height are reduced to a letterbox-sized preview window that a user must click to expand to view the image in full.

Twitter’s in-stream previews use a 2:1 aspect ratio; this means that the image preview is twice as wide as it is tall. To work out how much of any given image will show within the stream, take the width of the image you want to upload and divide it in half – this is the amount of vertical space you get for your image preview, which is centered vertically in the original image.

By keeping the focal point of an image as close to the vertical center as possible, you ensure that it gets seen without anyone having to click on it. Even better, you can crop an image to 2:1 before you upload it, so that the entire thing is visible in the preview.

Alternatively, you can use the need to expand an image to create “expand to reveal” offers that encourage people to click to see more, e.g. click to reveal a discount code or special message. Think about the ways you can use images on Twitter in conjunction with (or largely instead of) a text update to communicate a message to your audience that might otherwise be difficult in just 140 characters.

18. Video marketing on Twitter – short clips and live streaming with Periscope

The Twitter mobile app provides an easy way to film (or import), edit, and share clips direct to your profile. The maximum length of a Twitter video is 30 seconds and (like on Facebook), videos posted to Twitter play automatically within users’ feeds.

While text is going to be your predominant method of communication on Twitter, occasionally replying to tweets via video – such as answering a question in a Twitter chat – is a fun and engaging way to let your fans get to know the people behind your brand.

Video replies is one specific way to use Twitter video for business.

If you want an even more dynamic way to interact with your Twitter followers (and beyond), download Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming app.

With one tap, you’ll be able to broadcast instantly with your fans – to show them behind the scenes, to answer questions, to support the launch of a product, or whatever you like! Here are a few quick tips to ensure that your Periscope live stream is a hit:

  • Promote your stream in advance – through Twitter and other avenues, to encourage as many viewers as possible. Maybe make the stream’s content a one-off so it becomes a “not-to-be-missed” occasion.
  • Host it at the right time: use Twitter analytics to see when your audience is most often online, and host your stream at a time when they are going to be around to watch!
  • Use a clear and compelling title to help people identify your live stream – people who follow you on the app will be notified when you go live, and the title will make up part of an automated tweet used to promote your broadcast.
  • Depending on your goals for the live stream, choose between a public stream (broadcasting to everybody, whether they follow you on Twitter or not), or private (where you select the attendees from your followers).
  • Join in with the live conversation – acknowledge viewers and their questions, and ask for likes and shares as a way to help build your audience for the next stream.
  • Analyze your performance within the app – number of likes, views, and replays (anyone can watch your stream for up to 24 hours after it finishes), to see how you can improve your live streaming for next time.

19. Upload multiple images and tag them to boost engagement

Clear evidence that Twitter is keen to bolster the use of images on the site arrived in April 2014, when the ability to attach up to four images to a tweet (previously limited to just one) was introduced.

Multiple images display as a collage of four rectangular images on all devices, and also in embedded tweets. Brands are already taking advantage of these collages to spell out a single message across the four separate images, provide simple step-by-step tutorials, or using multiple photos to tell the story of an event in the life of their company.

Along with this update comes the ability to tag up to 10 people, e.g. customers, contest winners, business associates, etc. in each image. The people who are tagged will receive a notification to let them know, so do take advantage of this as a way to encourage engagement and start conversations centered on your posts.

To top it all off, the characters used to tag usernames in Twitter images will not deplete any the original 140 character space for the accompanying text. To tag people in a photo, select it once uploaded and type their name or username into the “Who’s in this photo?” box. When the tweet is published, the usernames of the tagged people will appear next to it as live, clickable links.

Twitter Contest Strategy and Product Promotion

Twitter is a great platform to hold a competition on, to encourage views and interaction with your page, or link to an external source. Entry requirements can be as simple as asking your followers to retweet something that you have written or @replying to answer a question.

If you run a competition, don’t ask users to DM you the answer to a question: it shuts off promotion of the competition to vast numbers of users who won’t see others tweeting to you in Twitter’s search.

1. Real-time offers and Twitter-specific codes

Many people follow brands on Twitter specifically to hear about promotions and discounts, so give them what they want! Offer your Twitter followers special coupons, exclusive discounts, and free samples, to help build your brand’s reputation.

Create a striking image to help the offer stand out, and post it several times to make sure it is seen by as many of your followers as possible. If you want to measure sales and conversions made specifically through Twitter, tweet a tracking code only to your followers and be sure to ask for it during the transaction. e.g. TWEET20.

It is good practice to place a time limit on your Twitter coupons as a way to drive short-term sales by increasing the sense of urgency; between 1 and 2 weeks is a decent time for people to both see and redeem the promotion.

For businesses looking to engage and strengthen relationships with their customers, asking people to @message or DM you to receive an offer is one powerful strategy – just make sure you have the means to handle all of the messages you expect to receive!

2. Take orders over Twitter

Why not try taking orders or bookings over Twitter? If you want to give it a go but are worried it will clutter up your main profile, you can just as easily create a separate Twitter account and dedicate that one for taking orders.

3. Host Twitter chats for engagement and authority building

Twitter chats – live, structured conversations between users on Twitter – are an effective way to engage with and build stronger relationships with your audience, and also encourage new people to follow you.

Many brands host weekly Twitter chats as a way to build authority within their niche, promote their products and services, and to grow their professional network by interacting with peers. Before you jump in and start your own, I’d recommend searching for and observing a couple of existing Twitter chats within your industry to familiarize yourself with how they work, and to get a feel for whether they might be suitable for your own business objectives.

Sites like Chat Salad (http://www.chatsalad.com) feature tons of examples for you to choose from (or you could simply search the web for “[your keyword] + twitter chat), while http://www.tchat.io/ allows you to easily follow and reply in real- time to tweets that include a specific hashtag, i.e. the one uses for your chat!

If you want to host your own chat, set a date and time, a unique hashtag (so that others can follow along and join in more easily), and encourage interaction by promoting the event well in advance.

Whether you host or join a Twitter chat, remember to contribute valuable tweets to the conversation using the relevant hashtag and retweet others’ great responses to praise their input.

4. Use Embeddable tweets

Use embeddable tweets to take a tweet (text or video) or a conversation and post it on your website or in a blog post. You can use this feature to share your Twitter content with a larger audience, e.g. re-capping Twitter chats, or adding positive product reviews or testimonials.

1). Locate a tweet on Twitter.com that you want to embed.

2). Hover your mouse over the tweet and click ‘Expand’.

3). Click ‘Details’.

4). Click ‘Embed Tweet’ or ‘Embed Video’.

5). Click inside the HTML code box to highlight the code. Copy the HTML code (CTRL+C or Command+C) and paste it as an HTML element into your website or blog.

Creative uses for Embedded tweets

  • Tweets can be a great source of customer testimonials for your business, particularly if you embed them onto your website or blog.
  • Do you host business events? Embed the invitation tweet in a list of upcoming events on your website.
  • Embed tweets from other people into your blog posts. Embedded tweets allow your readers to connect with new people and jump into the Twitter conversation right from your blog.
  • Embed part of a Twitter conversation (one that has inspired a blog post) into your blog and reach more people than the original Twitter conversation.
  • Embed a tweet of a glowing customer comment or add a tweet about an upcoming event in your email signature, to help seal deals and promote your activity.

5. Utilize Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards allow you to automatically attach rich information (photos, video, sign-up forms, additional product details, and more) to tweets that are created when someone shares something to Twitter from your website.

As they stand out from ordinary text-only tweets within the site’s feed, i.e. the feeds of the tweeter and their followers, they can be a powerful way to boost the number of click-throughs to your original content. Twitter Cards come in a number of different varieties:

  • Summary Card: The default option, featuring a title, description, thumbnail, and your Twitter handle. There is also a similar option, but with a larger image.
  • Photo Card: A Twitter Card that features only a photo. A Gallery Card option also exists; these highlight a collection of four photos.
  • App Card: A Card to promote mobile apps. On mobile views, it will provide a direct download button, e.g. “Download in the App Store.”
  • Player Card: If your brand uses video or audio for promotion, a player card will allow you to embed a piece of media within your tweet.
  • Product Card: Allows you to include a title, description, thumbnail image and Twitter username attributed to the product, along with details like as price, location, availability, and more.
  • Lead Generation Card and Website Card: Cards used to collect email addresses or drive website traffic (see section on Paid Twitter Advertising for more info).
  • Offer Card: A way for users to add an offer to their credit or debit card and redeem in store instantly, without a coupon (US testing only at present).

Implementing Twitter Cards is as easy as inserting a few lines of code onto your website (the code you use will depend on the type of card). 

6. Create Twitter Lists to segment tweets and organize prospects

Twitter Lists are perhaps one of the most underutilized functions of the site; they allow you to easily organize and view the content most worth reading from the people you follow, and can also be used as a networking tool, i.e. to interact and engage with the people who you choose to add to lists.

Tweets from people in your Twitter lists appear in a separate feed, which can allow you to filter out a lot of the ‘noise’ on the platform. Examples of groups of people you can sort into Twitter lists include customers, potential customers, your most passionate fans, people with whom you interact most, professional contacts and people who inspire you.

By checking in on the activity in your lists, you can more easily pick and choose the most opportune time to reach out with a conversational message, and begin to foster potential relationships.

How to create and add people to a Twitter List:

1). Click on the cog icon at the top of your Twitter profile and choose ‘Lists’, and click the ‘Create list’ button.

2). Give your list a name and description, e.g. Business Influencers, and choose whether you want to make it public or private.

3). Search for people to add to your list by username, real name, or business or brand name, and insert them via the cog menu in search results or at the top of their profile. You can also use the same method to add people to a list from your own or anyone else’s list of followers.

Note: Joining public lists is a useful way to discover interesting, themed content to share, and they also act as ready-made group of people you might want to connect with. To follow a public list, go to a profile, click “lists” and choose the list you’d like to subscribe to. You don’t have to follow a person’s profile to follow one of their public lists.

7. Use custom timelines to organize and curate key tweets

Twitter introduced custom timelines in November 2013, a feature that affords you more control over how tweets are organized and delivered. Unlike the default Twitter timeline, custom timelines are ones that you create, name, and add tweets to.

This means that when the conversation around an event or topic blows up on Twitter, you can create a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy and relevant tweets. Custom timelines are public and have their own unique URL, making them easy to share with others.

They can be embedded onto your website, too! Use custom timelines to help people easily find the latest information about fast-moving events like product launches, flash sales, business conferences, and lots more.

To create a custom timeline, download and install the free Tweetdeck program (a brilliant tool for managing your Twitter presence, by the way), then add a new column of type “Custom timeline”. To add a new column you can use the add icon “+” in the sidebar or the keyboard shortcut “A”. To add a Tweet to a custom timeline, drag it with the move icon and drop it on the custom timeline column that you would like to populate.

The share menu for custom timelines includes a link to generate the code to create an embedded custom timeline; just paste this code wherever on your website you want your custom timeline to appear.

8. Explore the business potential of Twitter Group DMs

Twitter’s group direct messages – setup via the normal DM option, then adding names or usernames via a search – enable you to you to invite up to 20 users who follow you to join you in a group conversation.

When someone joins the chat, they can invite people who follow them, even if those users don’t follow you or others within the group – a fantastic opportunity to introduce yourself or be introduced to others.

Some other notable benefits of group DMs on Twitter include making private, one-to-one introductions and connections with influencers and brand advocates, holding group discussions with fellow team members, and resolving a pressing customer service issue involving multiple parties.

9. Meet up with followers and promote your Twitter feed

Find ways to take a step beyond Twitter relationships by meeting your followers and followees in real life – great for taking networking to that next step. At business events, display tweets with the event #hashtag on a big screen using services such as twitterfall.com or visibletweets.com, and tweet to your followers about the experience while you’re there.

Using Twitter for Customer Service: Essential Strategy

As well as an effective platform for pushing your business and its products or service, Twitter also provides a great way to handle customer service issues. Here are a selection of tips to help you optimize your approach to handling customer queries via the medium of tweets:

1. Consider a profile dedicated to customer service

Depending on your company’s resources and levels of Twitter interaction, you may want to consider opening a Twitter account dedicated only to responding to negative queries from customers.

The idea here is that you can use your brand’s main Twitter handle to focus on positive engagement, sharing valuable content, and posting the odd marketing message – leaving your secondary account open to host conversations with unhappy customers.

If this is something you intend to do, be sure to make clear which account customers should tweet to with complaints by placing the @username and an explanation on your website, pamphlets, and in your main Twitter account’s Bio or background design.

2. Handle acute problems with direct messages

If lots of people are asking the same question on Twitter in a short amount of time, due to an acute problem, use direct messaging (DMs) to reply to them and prevent clogging your news feed with @replies. To prevent further negative tweets flying in your direction, post one public tweet to explain the situation, so that it can be seen prominently on your news feed.

3. Switch to a personal Twitter account for pressing matters

For the very most pressing matters, switch to your personal Twitter account to deal with customers who require special treatment to keep them on side. It will show the customer that you really care about them and, perhaps more importantly, it will protect your brand image from a storm of controversy away from your company’s Twitter account.

4. Measuring Twitter customer service success

Measuring the success of customer service on Twitter requires a different approach to ordinary Twitter activity (covered later on in this chapter). Some of the metrics that you might want to consider analyzing include the number of @mentions requiring customer service, the response time (how long it takes you to reply to customer queries) and response rate (the number of tweets actually replied to).

Paid Advertising on Twitter

While Twitter advertising doesn’t have the same extraordinary depth as Facebook’s tools, it can still be a very powerful strategy in helping you reach an expanded audience through your tweets.

1. Set up a Twitter ad campaign

To begin setting up a Twitter ad campaign, click Twitter Ads from the drop-down menu on your profile or visit https://ads.twitter.com/ and click the “Create new campaign” button. There are five main Twitter ad products to choose from, depending on what goal you want to achieve:

Followers (Promoted Account): Use simple copy that clearly tells people what you want them to do (follow you!), and spell out the benefits – receiving deals and discounts, exclusive news, etc. Refrain from adding links or images that will detract from that all-important “Follow” button. With promoted accounts, your Twitter username, profile photo and a Follow button will also appear as a suggestion in strategic spots across Twitter on desktop and mobile, such as the Who to Follow box and Home timelines. If using this option, ensure that your profile picture, name, and bio are in tip-top shape, as this, in addition to your copy, is what people will be acting upon.

Website clicks or conversions: Combine this option with a Website Card for greater impact. Unlike an ordinary tweet that may just display a plain link, Website Cards show a preview photo and additional information about your site. The idea is that the eye-catching format of these tweets (complete with image, text caption, story headline and call to action button, e.g. “Read more…”) will allow you to easily surface website content within a tweet and drive relevant traffic to your home page, product page, or an important blog post.

Tweet engagements: Use this option to drive higher levels of engagement on your Twitter posts; particularly relevant to generating buzz around something like a product launch, upcoming event, or seasonal occasion.

App installs or engagements: encourage people to install your mobile app. Users can open or install the app directly within your tweet which will, of course, tell people why they can’t live without your offering.

Leads on Twitter: Use this option if you’re looking to grow your email list subscribers, and combine it with a lead generation card – detailed earlier in this chapter. Offer potential sign-ups something valuable in return for their email address (prize draw entry, free download, etc.). Persuasive language like “get”, “win” and “receive” can often be used to inspire action.

2. Twitter Ads targeting advice

Use the knowledge you have of your audience to help Twitter define how best to target them with your ads. The targeting options may differ depending on your goal, but include:

Interests: As a way to broadly target an audience, picking out interests from hundreds categories and sub-categories is a good way to go about it. Followers: This option – more niche than the last – allows you to reach people with specific interests, or who are similar to followers of accounts other than your own – like competitors, influencers in your industry, and businesses that aren’t competitors, but do target a similar audience. Use Twitter’s search to find usernames to add, and then use the ‘expand your reach’ link to find more. Adding around 10-25 usernames per campaign will ensure that you’re reaching a large enough audience.

Tailored Audiences: If you already have a CRM list, Twitter can use this to target this audience on the social network based on data like email addresses, Twitter IDs, web browsing behavior. Keywords: A way to reach people that engage with or search Twitter using specific keywords.

Device: Reach an audience based on what device they use to access Twitter.

Geography, Language, and Gender: Target an audience by country, state, zip, language, or their gender in order to increase relevance.

Once your targeting option is chosen, you’ll be able to manually select the tweets you want to promote or let Twitter automatically select your five most engaging recent tweets for further exposure.

3. Twitter ad budgeting and campaign measurement advice

How much is one Twitter follower, website conversion, app install, email subscriber, etc. worth to you? Consider this and then set a daily and total budget for your campaign accordingly, either CPC (cost-per-click), CPF (cost-per-follow), CPL (cost-per-lead) or CPE (cost-per-engagement). All campaigns end once the budget has been used, so you’ll never be overcharged.

Use an A/B testing approach to Twitter advertising to see which combination of text and images is driving the most engagement at the cheapest price, and use this knowledge to optimize future campaigns.

To help you figure all this out, the Campaigns Dashboard will show you a number of metrics related to your paid marketing on Twitter. You may also choose to setup Conversion Tracking within the Twitter advertising dashboard as a way to measure return on investment.

4. Monitor all activity via Twitter’s Activity dashboard

Twitter’s Activity Dashboard – available via http://analytics.twitter.com – gives detailed insight into how your tweets – both paid and organic – are performing. The dashboard will tell you how many times any individual tweet has been viewed on mobile and desktops, how many link clicks it has received, the favorites and retweets it has attracted, and a month-to-month overview of your activity to show if your progress is on an upward trend.

You’ll also find data about your followers: (the amount, location, gender, and their top interests), which can be used to work on content more tailored to them. Lastly, you’ll find the option to measure your return on investment by tracking the actions people take after interacting with your ads on Twitter, i.e. visiting your website and purchasing a product.

Use the combined power of Twitter’s analytics to track the progress of your Twitter strategy, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to tweak your approach accordingly.

Note: On the move? In the Twitter mobile app, check out the Engagement feature for a quick glance at the performance of any tweet you send. From the tweet’s detail page, tap “View Tweet activity” to see statistics for its views, engagement, and interactions.

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