Updated: May 5, 2022
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.
It's an astonishing fact that over 6,000 tweets per second are sent into the ethersphere. With that kind of competition for eyeballs, it is no stretch of the imagination to see why the majority of Twitter social media accounts are bereft of any interaction. Getting Twitter marketing "right" is no mean feat.
Whichever social media platform you choose, there is an optimum method of distributing your content and the following tips will help you to present Your Twitter feed in the best light possible and give you the best shot at building a following.
Quick Win Number One - Create A Great Twitter Profile
Keep your Twitter user handle as short as possible so that people can easily remember you and keep it the same across all of your social media profiles. You can use Namechk to see what is available before committing to a user name only to find out that it is not available on other channels.
Invest in some great graphics for your Twitter user profile. Once created, the header graphic can be reused on Facebook or Linkedin if you are planning to use those social media platforms as well, and it will keep everything uniform.
In a sense, your Twitter profile is like a business card, and you have limited space to make a first impression. Succinctly say why you are awesome and why people should follow you and include the link to your website.
Quick Win Number Two - Be Authentic
In my introduction to Twitter marketing, I encourage you to go and find similar companies to yours and identify how well their Twitter marketing is working for them. Once you've established that there is a precedent for wading far out into the murky waters of SMM, then you can use the same techniques to build your own following.
But that doesn't mean you should copy them word for word. A crucial part of being successful is being authentic, and authenticity by definition cannot be copied.
I copy and steal ideas all the time. You may be horrified to hear me say that, but it's been going on ever since the concept of "business" was created. Companies continually copy or ape products as soon as the patent runs out, and they can legally enter the market, improving the product or service and reducing the cost.
However, copying things word for word is not only going to get you into trouble with the plagiarism police, but it's also a futile exercise. If you have no chutzpah to add to the conversation, no original thoughts or ideas, then how can you expect to generate an ardent following?
Bring original ideas to the party and improve on those that already exist. Without authenticity, you'll never rise above the insane noise levels on Twitter.
Quick Win Number Three - Customer Service
When things go wrong, or a product or service doesn't come up to scratch, then people often take to Twitter to vent their frustration. You can use this to your advantage by monitoring for mentions of your brand name and replying with an offer to help in a timely fashion.
I like to use mention.com, but a quick Google search will give you plenty of options for monitoring social media.
If a Tweet isn't going to solve your customers' problem, then include a link to a help page or document or ask the customer to email you for more assistance.
In addition to offering customer support directly, you can also proactively help with customer problems that may be related to your product or service. Also, once you start monitoring for mentions of your brand name, hopefully, you'll get to retweet all the beautiful things people say about you. They do say nice things, right?
Quick Win Number Four - Use Twitter Advanced Search
Twitter is a melting pot of words with millions of users and trillions of tweets. Trying to make sense of subjects and do research is not Twitter's strong point. But hidden away amongst Twitter's feature set is an advanced search tool that makes research a more viable proposition.
To access the advanced search tool, enter your search term into the Twitter search bar as you normally would. Once you press return, you'll see a "search filters" box appear in the top left of your Twitter page. From here, you can access the advanced search Twitter tool.
The advanced search fields enable you to explore Twitter's outer reaches:
"all of these words" will help ensure you're narrowing in on a specific query
"any of these words" will broaden your research scope
"none of these words" to exclude irrelevant search information
"these hashtags" will find favourite topics.
"from account" and "to account" to see interactions between specific people
"mentioning these accounts" to see who's talking about you
Quick Win Number Five - Tweet Your Quora Answers
If you haven't used the question and answer website "Quora" yet, then you may want to take another look. The latest financing round values the platform at a staggering $2 billion.
Quora offers all the information that you want to know but didn't know there was an answer for. By answering questions and then tweeting out your answer, you can establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field very quickly.
Quick Win Number Six - Pinned Tweets
Pinning a tweet means that it appears at the top of the page in your Twitter profile. You can change the pinned tweet as many times as you like, and it will stay at the top of the page no matter how old it is.
Pinning tweets is an excellent strategy for highlighting a promotion your company is running or an event you are hosting or even sending traffic to a landing page. Get creative with your pinned tweets and highlight your best work.
There you have it, six fantastic tips to get your Twitter marketing campaign out of the starting gate and into the race.
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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.