Twitter engagement is free. Lack of engagement is costly.
In 2 days I will have been on Twitter for 7 years! Wow…I had no idea I’ve been a twit for that long (that’s what many people called peeps like me back then). I can’t say I blame them.
I really didn’t remember why I joined, other than I was intrigued. But it didn’t take me long to realize the power of 140 characters. And then I was hooked!
Today there are more than 250 million users on Twitter and I haven’t heard the word “Twit” in a very long time. But that doesn’t mean a lot of people and businesses still don’t “get it”. It’s not exactly intuitive to a traditional marketer.
But whether you’re selling technology, talent, travel or tee times,..
You already know how to talk to customers and prospects in your place of business. You probably start by asking them how they are; if you’re in BC, you’ll definitely talk about the weather.
Depending on your business, you might chat quickly about current events, Tiger Woods, a recent trip or who you think might win the World Series.
Whatever it is, it’s probably not a one-way rant pitching your wares to them. You already know that you first have to establish trust and develop a relationship with them; then you can talk about your products and services.
So why can’t you just take that same friendly conversational dialogue to Twitter? Seems so obvious, doesn’t it?
Then why do so many businesses still get it wrong?
- Every post is either a poorly crafted pitch with no “call to action” or a tweet that adds no value to the reader
- They aren’t following back most of their followers
- There are no re-tweets from their followers (except when they devalue their resort through Living Social). Arg!
- There are no re-tweets or replies to their followers’ tweets
- All tweets are plain text with a link and most are just links to their Facebook page
- Not a #hashtag in sight.
Now take a look at your twitter feed. Are you making the same mistakes? Are you just pushing pitches at your prospects? If you are, then you’re not helping your business; in fact you’re hurting it.
But they’re not interested in your shameful solicitations. To be successful and leverage the power of 140 characters, you need to practice these 5 basic rules of engagement.
1. Know your audience and serve their needs, not yours.
If you’re new to Twitter, check out Twitter’s “Getting Started Guide” to learn the basics and get set up properly.
Then get yourself a Twitter dashboard like HootSuite or TweetDeck. If you don’t use one, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable data about your fans/followers.
My personal favorite is HootSuite (No I am not an affiliate) and I use it daily to ensure I never miss an opportunity to find and engage with followers and influencers. Recently I discovered their demographic profile app and it opened my eyes to things I didn’t know about my followers.
I recommend you give it a try once you’ve established a following; you can run a few profiles for free before you have to pay. I think you’ll agree that it makes it incredibly easy to learn what your followers like/want/need so you can deliver to them exactly that.
2. Follow, listen, learn, respond.
Once you have your profile and dashboard set up and your ready to rock, do these 4 things on a regular (daily is preferable) basis:
- Follow new people (and your followers) who fit the profile of your target audience (You can find them through Twitter Search, your competitors followers, influencers’ followers and your customer contact list)
- Listen to what they’re talking/tweeting about and join in on conversations where it’s appropriate
- Learn about your followers from their tweets, their profiles, their use of hashtags and their followers
- Tweet to engage them in conversation about their interests
- Respond (reply, re-tweet or favorite) to every mention of your brand or question. And be authentic! Do NOT use auto-responders. They are disrespectful and disengaging.
3. Use the 80/20 rule.
Just like with Facebook, Twitter is not a portal for your promotional pitches. Remember, it’s a social network, so be social first and sales-y second. Only 20% of your tweets should be about you.
And don’t forget…a picture is worth a thousand words. Not only that…
[Source: LinchpinSEO] So use more images and video in your tweets to grab and retain the attention of followers.
HootSuite Tip: To ensure your images show up in the news feed properly switch from ow.ly to pic.twitter.com as your image up-loader.
One more thing…
[Source: Buffer Social)
4. Short and sweet to simplify re-tweets.
[Source: Dan Zarrella]
There’s nothing more annoying than having to modify a tweet (MT) to reduce its length before you send it. Most people just won’t bother.
So keep your tweets under 130 characters so your followers have room to RT them.
5. Be consistent.
Twitter doesn’t sleep or go on vacations and neither should your business. Tweet multiple times every day to keep the buzz about your brand top of mind with your audience. A good average is 3-5 tweets spread out over the day during the times when your audience is the most engaged – and that means weekends too!
[Source: Buffer Social)
HootSuite has an AutoScheduler that will post your tweets at the optimum time for your audience. You can also create tweets ahead of time (weeks in advance even) and upload them from a CSV file. It’s not difficult – it just takes commitment and a few minutes.
The first time I picked up an iPhone I had no idea how to use it. I know…seems so simple right? But my BlackBerry brain just didn’t get it. Today I live on my iPhone and can’t imagine a day without it.
Twitter is a lot like that. At first it’s not obvious how powerful it really is. But follow these rules of engagement and stick with it and it won’t take you long to agree that Twitter is not for twits or birdbrains – it’s just simply brilliant!