Updated: May 10, 2019
So many social media platforms to choose from and such limited resources, what's a small business owner to do? Getting out the machine gun and scattering bullets everywhere is a waste of your essential finite resource - cash!
If you want to snipe and take accurate shots, then you'll have to limit your targets. The puzzle is knowing which social media audience to choose from the outset before you leap off the high board and plunge headfirst into the chaos.
In this article, I'm going to give you a quick Twitter marketing masterclass so that you can make an informed decision and decide whether or not Twitter should be part of your overall social media marketing (SMM) plan.
First up you need to know what the differences are between the most popular social media channels and what they are used for:
Instagram is primarily a visual experience and is ideal for showing off your products. If you have excellent photography skills, know your way around an image editing program like Photoshop or can use the filters built into your smartphone camera to good effect then Instagram would be the right choice of a social media platform for you.
Because the browsing experience for Instagram is so visual, the text is really an afterthought and trying to convert browsers to buyers is a lot more difficult on Instagram than other social media channels, particularly given the restriction on where outbound links can be placed.
As a brand building exercise, Instagram is a great business tool but only if you use captivating, original images and swerve the bland memes and other uninspiring stock photography. Check out the Instagram basics for beginners or advanced tips for Instagram.
Facebook is the all-rounder of social media interaction. You can create a page for your business and add text and images much the same as a web page all within the Facebook ecosystem. Because people are signed into the platform, it is easy for them to like and share the content they come across.
Facebook has also added many tools to assist with converting traffic; Facebook pages, instant messaging, page insights and advert creation tools to name a few. You can also run and manage Instagram advert campaigns from your Facebook dashboard.
Twitter is primarily a textual experience with the ability to add images or videos to support your narrative. The primary reason to use Twitter is because of the massive volume of users (330 million in the first quarter of 2019) and the main reason not to use it is because of the lack of filtering and tools to help you narrow down the demographic. What's the point of broadcasting into a volume of noise so high that you'll never be noticed?
Twitter interactions are "real time" which mean that it is a brilliant platform for customer support, but only if you are prepared to staff it adequately and act on the feedback gained. Slow responses to social media, in general, are poorly received.
Should You use Twitter For Social Media Marketing?
First of all, you might like to decide whether or not SMM, in general, should be part of your overall marketing effort. Here is a post I made earlier for a quick overview of social media marketing.
Not everyone needs to use SMM, and in some cases, it can be wasted effort even to try. For most small businesses and solopreneurs, investing the saved time in improved website content or optimising an existing email campaign would give a much better return on investment than starting a new SMM campaign.
Heresy! I hear you cry. And well you might. But making your pockets lighter so you can run ever more furiously on the SMM hamster wheel is poor man's entertainment for the cultivated and enlightened web developer.
Being On Twitter Is Different To Marketing On Twitter Correctly
Being on the radio is no good if no one tunes in to your show just as displaying your beer commercial in the TV advert break for "biggest loser" is not going to gain you any new customers. Yes, you spent the money on advertising, but if people are not receptive to your message, then you may as well not do it in the first place.
How many times have you been sweet-talked into placing an advert in the local rag at huge cost only for it to draw an expensive blank? Better not to do it in the first place.
And this is where people fail with Twitter, just because it is "free" to do does not make it inexpensive and doing it wrong can also have a negative impact. The number of people losing their jobs or embarrassing themselves irredeemably through drunk tweeting like this NASA intern is steadily on the rise.
Research Your Competitors
If you want to know if you can be successful on Twitter take a look at your competitors and see how they are faring. Seeing successful competitors is the litmus test for deciding if you should make the investment or not.
As an example, it's insightful that very few website design companies use Twitter and of those that do, driving user engagement is proven to be a difficult job. It's a good sign that I would be better off focusing my efforts elsewhere rather than trying to build a Twitter following for We Build Stores @storebuilderuk
On the other hand, book authors and media people who understand the medium do exceptionally well on Twitter and can gain a massive following by doing it right. For example @therickwilson
When you are doing your research, as well as noticing how many tweets and followers a Twitter account has, look at the user engagement on their posts and see what kind of questions and answers are posted. This will give you a feel for the type of Twitter account you need to run. Just because someone posts a lot does not mean they are actually engaging with their audience.
To summarise, you can quickly decide whether or not to use Twitter for SMM by looking at your competitors and examining their follower counts and amount of engagement they generate with their posts. Remember that follower count alone is no guarantee of success because followers can easily be purchased or grown through "follow me back" strategies.
Even though Twitter is free to use, the cost of creating a campaign and investing your time can be considerable so choose wisely.