Social | November 19, 2013

A Guide to Twitter for Business

Twitter is a valuable tool for businesses from industries across the board; allowing them to connect and reach out to customers in real time.  Despite Twitter being one of the most popular social media platforms around, with roughly 218m active monthly users, many people still don’t understand how it works or how it can be used for their brand. In my experience, many people just overcomplicate what Twitter is; put simply, Twitter is a micro blogging tool that allows you to convey a message in 140 characters or less. Let’s look in a little more detail at its functionality and how it can benefit your brand:

Hashtags

When you think hashtag, chances are, you’ll immediately think of Twitter. Hashtags have actually expanded to many other social networks now, but they gained popularity first on Twitter; do you know what they are actually used for though?

Using a hashtag on Twitter is a way of encouraging engagement, both with your followers and a wider audience. Don’t hashtag too much though – that’s plain annoying – try to use no more than 2-3 hashtags in your Tweet!
Carefully select keywords that you want to promote; so, for example, if we wanted to talk about a Google update on our Liberty Twitter, we might say something like: “Reading more about the new #GoogleUpdate targeting spammy #marketing techniques – what are your thoughts?” This way, you are only hashtagging the key elements of your Tweet (those common themes that people may search for or click on) whilst blending them in with natural conversation.

Clicking on a hashtag, or typing the text from the hashtag into the search bar, will take you to a list of everyone who is using the same common theme as you; this can allow you to then engage with others who are interested in the same topic and vice versa. If your brand is big enough, and you have a healthy follower base, you can even start your very own hashtag and aim to get that trending.

Be on trend

On the left hand side of your screen, you will see a list of topics that are currently ‘trending’ on Twitter; the list you see will depend on your settings: yours may be configured so that they show trends relevant to your interests or they may show for your location, but you can amend this if you want to see global or UK trends instead. Keep a close eye on the trending topics as this will allow you to jump into hot conversation; you can tweet about the theme if it’s relevant to you which can then encourage more engagement with your brand, as well as fresh followers.

Real time. Real talk

Twitter is short and sweet; it allows you to reach out to your followers in real time when compared to other social networks, so you can immediately keep them in the loop with the latest news or information.

It’s a great tool for feeding back to people when you’re at an event or a conference, especially if the organiser has created a Tweet specifically for the event – make sure you utilise this for maximum engagement. You can literally Tweet about something that was said at an event as it happens.

Create lists

Twitter allows you to organise your followers into specific lists; so you can separate them by the type of contact they are i.e. clients, customers, colleagues, support, or you can organise them by interest. This makes it easier to see what a particular section of your followers is talking about rather than looking at your whole feed and trying to find specific people.

Brand mentions

If someone wants to talk directly to your brand, they will usually use the @ character to directly Tweet you; however, many people might mention you in passing to their followers, so it’s worth using the Twitter search function to check for brand mentions. This can allow you to converse with people that you aren’t already connected to, but who show an interest in your business. It can also allow you to pick up on any positive or negative comments that are not being directed straight at you. It’s a beneficial feature, so make it a ritual to do a quick search regularly.

How can I make it work for my business?

So, now you know what you can do with Twitter to reach out to your audience, how can you apply this to your business?

•    Promote your blog posts – this will widen your readership
•    Ask your followers questions – this is great for research and development
•    Join in with trending conversations to expand your follower base
•    Monitor Twitter for brand mentions
•    Tweet at least once per day – the more you Tweet, the more engagement you’ll reap
•    Be consistent with your brand voice – use this when you Tweet
•    Tweet like a human – don’t always be promotional and don’t be afraid to show personality
•    Use it for quick and easy customer service – followers will appreciate your speedy response
•    Host competitions – you can use these to expand your follower base further

How have you tackled Twitter for business? Do you have any top tips for your specific market place?

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