The Big 4: #2 Twitter

The next topic in the big four of social media is Twitter. Twitter has becoming extremely popular over the past few years and it is largely due to popularity of Hash Tags.

Not everybody searches on hash tags, but there are a majority of people that do. So, with this in mind, what is the keyphrase that’s relevant to you? Think back to your SEO work and your keyphrase research. Use those keyphrases with a hash tag within your tweets, and then people who are searching for those keyphrases will end up finding your tweets. When they find your tweets, they can follow a link back to your website and pick up some of your great content.

Remember, it’s not always about your content, use Twitter to share links to other people’s useful content. Remember it is all about being an active member of the community, so sharing other messages that could add value to your followers is important.  It helps your followers, it helps to promote the other company’s content and profile and it may encourage others to do the same for you. It certainly makes your followers feel special if you re-tweet the things that they’ve posted.

Use the search options to find out what people are saying about your company, your products or services and your chosen keyphrase. In doing this you might just find people who have got a problem that you can help to solve. If you find somebody who’s got a problem and you can start offering valuable solutions back to them, you can market your services without a pushy sales message. As you start to help more people on social media, you’ll find more and more people coming back to your site and some will become paying customers.

When it comes to Twitter, it’s the posts of the people you follow that are shown in your stream. They don’t get to see your tweets unless they follow you back. So, what you need to do is consider who would find it really valuable to see your information. Who are you aiming to share your information with? Can you group these people into professions, geographical areas or interests?

If so, you can start to search for these groups and find relevant people. Step one is to start following them, maybe commenting on some of their tweets and certainly mentioning them so that you get their attention and they are encouraged to follow you back. Remember, they won’t follow you back unless you’ve got useful content.

When you find people who are speaking positively about your business thank them for it and use a @ reply. As you use the @ reply, more people get to see that message. This shows how Twitter is great for customer services. Make sure you respond to people who are promoting you and praising you and make sure that you publicly acknowledge them. Equally, what if you’ve got somebody who’s saying less than positive things? Make sure that you respond and aim to solve these problems. If they aren’t simple to resolve on Twitter, after an initial response ask if you can have a conversation via email or by direct message. Take care to handle the situation appropriately and try to deal with that positively and directly with the person and definitely don’t ignore any comments being made.

Once again, having somebody connected to you on Twitter is great, but signpost them back to your website. If relevant to you, make use of Twitter, but never rely on any social network being around for the rest of time.

Twitter is a little bit more like the radio than a CD player. You see, when you get in and out of the car and you’re listening to CD’s, it stops when you switch the engine off, so when you get in the car again, you are where you left off. Twitter doesn’t, it continues and each time you log on, you see the 25 most recent tweets. If you are only following 25 people (which would be a very low number) and all of those people tweet just once an hour, you have to be on Twitter once every hour to see all of those tweets.

Leave it for 2 hours whilst you are in a meeting, or a day when you are cracking on with a project and you simply miss the messages. How does this affect you when you’re tweeting? Well, it means that you can share the same content a few times, but just use different text within that tweet. Let’s say you’ve got a blog post. You could promote that 10 or even 20 times over a month, but just use a different text in the tweet. Even though it’s the same content that you’re pushing out, people won’t consider that spam. This is because many of your posts will be missed and there will still be people who never got to see it.

If you are using Twitter you will need to work on your profile. Definitely ditch the default image and put a photo of you in. Make sure it is professional photo of your face, so that you become recognisable across the Social Networks. You can use a service like Gravatar if you want to use the same avatar or image for all of your profiles. In Twitter as with other social media platforms, this will mean that your face appears with all of your tweets.

What about that 160 character description? Make sure that you’ve got your keyphrases in there. When people use a search, you want to come up for your keyphrases. So definitely use your keyphrases within your Twitter profile. What about your phone number too? If people find you on Twitter, you want them to be able to get in touch with you. Maybe use your phone number or a web address, but use those 160 characters wisely. Don’t just use random text trying to describe you.

Something that is often misunderstood on Twitter is people trying to build up lots of followers. Once again, you need to be specific. It’s far better to have a hundred people following you who could genuinely do business with or recommend you, than having a thousand followers that have got some vague connection with and are unlikely to do any business with you. Don’t play the numbers game, focus on quality.

While we’re talking about quality, go for quality tweets too. When Twitter first came out, it used to really frustrate me when we’d hear about people taking the dog for a walk. They’re sharing every minute of their lives with us and I don’t believe that that’s an effective use of time. Before you type anything consider ‘Who cares?’ in this way you make sure that your tweets are quality tweets. But don’t use Twitter just to tell me about every minute of your day, because I’m just as busy as you are.

If you’re stuck on finding the right people to follow, then there are directories like Twello that you can use to search for your target audience. Try and find the people that are relevant to you, so that you can build up those quality connections.

You’ll see URL shortening quite often on Twitter. This is where people shorten the link to their website, or a relevant post in a bid to keep within the tight character limitation. There are different websites including “Bitly” or “Owly” that create short URLs for you. They are simple to use and not only do they reduce the characters are used; they often allow you to track how many people click on that link. Certainly with HootSuite, that will allow you to track how many people clicked on your links from Twitter. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting some engagement with your users.

When we talk about engagement with users, it is important for people to re-tweet your message. To ensure your message can be shares, don’t keep to the 140 characters that twitter allows, but go for 120. When you use 120 characters, it allows some room for somebody to do a re-tweet and insert their username at the front of your tweet. For this reason also make sure that you valuable content is in the middle, rather than at the end, so it is shared.

Many events now have a specific hash tag for visitors to use. This helps you to find out what people are talking about and make connections in the run up to attending. There are a lot of mixed opinions on whether when you’re at a live event you should be using Twitter while the speaker is up on stage. It’s becoming more acceptable and I’d suggest that you consider tweeting from live events. As you tweet you’ll connect with other people who have got a shared interest and may be relevant as an on-going contact. It also helps to promote the event itself and the speaker of the event.

When you first start doing Twitter, it is likely to feel quite formulaic. This is because you’re new to it and you need to work out a pattern. Over time, it will become more natural. But to begin with, I would suggest that you split your tweets into three different categories, spending an equal amount of time on each of them. First of all, I would say that you want to spend some time broadcasting your own message. You do have valuable content that you’ve created for your content plan, so make sure you set up posts that you can use to post links back to your content.

Secondly, have a look for other people and re-tweet some of their messages that are of value to your potential audience. Your top criteria should always be whether your audience is likely to find this information valuable. Finally, look for people to follow. Spend a third of your time looking in directories or through searches. This three-way approach means you are finding followers, you’re sharing other people’s messages and you’re promoting your own.

If you run events, create a hash tag and encourage people to use it when they sign up and at the event. There are various services in the resources linked to websites that will let you stream all of the content that’s coming through your Hash Tag. Project it up at the side of the stage during presentations and workshops, so people are encouraged to engage with the whole event on Twitter. Some people may think that that sounds distracting, but we’re moving into a more social media interactive age and this is now becoming very common.

When you’ve found a valuable search query for Twitter, you’ll almost certainly want to save that search so you can quickly run that search again. In fact, you should be running that search at least weekly, to make sure that you are connecting with people using the keyphrase that’s particularly relevant to you.