Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest – let’s face it, social media can be a little overwhelming for small businesses. While it is crucial for all businesses to create and maintain a social media presence, it’s not necessary for every small business to be connected to every platform. I stick to only three at this point – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
While Twitter is my favorite by far of all social media channels, I find that many business owners are intimidated by those 144 characters. I took to Twitter almost immediately – I was drawn by the affinity for quick and snappy commentary and the ability to scroll rapidly through many posts. I recently developed and taught a Twitter workshop at my local writer’s group to explain some of my own best practices for Twitter. I’ve distilled highlights of my workshop into five tips that will help you use Twitter to enhance your brand, engage in conversation, and even connect potential leads to you or your website.
Tip #1 – Keep your brand profile in mind
Stay focused on your brand profile and image. Make sure you don’t stray too far from your brand message or theme.
You’ll want your Twitter feed to reflect your brand the majority of the time so that your followers will continue to interact with you and understand what your brand represents. Not sure about your brand profile? Think about your target audience and what their interests are.
Tip #2 – Give some thought on who to Follow
My business Twitter account (@WordSpiralMedia) is reflective of my brand as a Jersey Shore-based content writer and marketing consultant. I tend to follow categories such as content writing and marketing thought leaders, PR thought leaders, New Jersey business and tourism sites and accounts, music, theater, film and women entrepreneurs. I periodically review who I am following to make sure I haven’t veered off from my brand.
Tip #3 – What to Tweet (and it’s not “buy my stuff, buy my stuff”)
You’ll likely not be successful with Twitter if you constantly tweet links to your business, or whatever product or service you’re selling. No one is going to interact with you if you bombard them with “buy my book/gadget/consulting” – you need to share interesting content with your like-minded followers and keep them engaged.
Some ideas of content to share in a Tweet:
• Share or retweet articles from online publications or blogs.
• Create a poll. Share the results.
• An image and a message. Tweets with images perform vastly better than text-only tweets.
• Send people to your website for a blog post or new content – this will automatically drive people to your website or landing page.
• Links to videos, webinars, podcasts.
Tip #4 – Update often
It’s more difficult to maintain followers if you don’t Tweet every day. I don’t strictly follow guidelines on exactly when to Tweet, although I do find that my posts are shared more around noon and in the late afternoon.
If it’s too much to Tweet throughout the day, use a scheduling tool to schedule a queue of Tweets. I like Buffer personally and I am not a fan of Tweet deck, but try both and see what you prefer. You should aim to Tweet three times a day, more if you are trying to connect with specific followers or with someone you’re following. You can also choose a time to tweet and respond to mentions and replies, or schedule 10 minutes to follow up on social media every 3 or 4 hours throughout the day. Switch between social media platforms.
Tip #5: Make meaningful connections
Twitter is all about conversations. Interacting with followers on Twitter is the best way to expand your brand, gain trust, loyal fans, and even clients.
Here are some ways to interact with your Twitter followers:
Respond – Simply reply to Tweets of the people you’re following. Respond to followers who mention you in a Tweet. Even if you have time to only interact for 10 minutes a day, they will appreciate the mention.
Direct message – If an account follows you and you follow them back, you can send and receive direct messages from that person or account. I don’t use automated messages, but many accounts do. If you send an automated message and someone responds to it, be sure to message back.
Share and Retweet – Web content, articles, blog posts. Mention the author’s Twitter handle in your tweet.
Use and follow hashtags – sometimes I tweet using a trending hashtag, or a weekly hashtag (e.g., #FollowFriday, #MondayMotivation). You can even create your own hashtag that reflects your brand or brand message.
Remember if you’re just getting stated, growing a Twitter following does not happen overnight. Don’t become frustrated if it takes several months to gain followers. The most important point to remember about Twitter is that the number of followers you have means nothing if you don’t interact with any of them. Connect, share, and be authentic – these more than anything will help you enhance your brand on Twitter.