What is Twitter?
Twitter is a form of social media that is used to convey short messages and updates. These updates are called “Tweets.” Twitter found its unique edge in the social media market by introducing a 140 character limit for any Tweet. This forces the user to be concise and mindful when wording their Tweets. This character limit classifies Twitter as a “microblogging tool.”
Why should I use Twitter?
Twitter is useful to small businesses for multiple reasons. It shares similarities to both Facebook and Instagram, but maintains its own personal, unique qualities that give it a place in small business marketing. It is similar to Facebook in the way that it shares updates to followers who opt-in (or subscribe) to a page. However, on Facebook, not every follower sees each update from the page due to Facebook filtering. On Twitter, this is not true. Each Tweet from a page goes to each of their followers feeds. In addition, the Twitter character limit inspires differing posts from Facebook.
Like Instagram, Twitter can share pictures alongside text. However, the form of follower interaction is different between Twitter and Instagram. On Twitter, followers can “Retweet” other page’s posts. Twitter can also share a wider variety of posts, unlike Instagram which can only be used to share pictures with a text caption.
Twitter is a great hub for customer-company interactions. If a customer has a question for the company, contacting them is as simple as mentioning the company’s Twitter handle in a Tweet. Also, due to the character limit, Twitter usually allows for businesses to have a more casual approach to posting. It is usually not recommended to post more than once a day to Facebook and Instagram (exceptions happen, especially with pages that possess a large following), but on Twitter, it is possible to post 3-4 times a day before irritating followers.
There are approximately 310 million monthly active users on Twitter. Another 500 million people visit the site every month without actually logging into an account to view public Twitter profiles. This creates a group of over 800 million people who could possibly be reached by your business using Twitter. Out of those who actually have an active Twitter account, 85% report feeling more connected with a small business after following them and interacting with them on the social media platform. 67% of users become more likely to buy from a brand after following them. 42% of users use Twitter to learn more about products and services. With these statistics in mind, there are too many possibilities in using Twitter for small business owners to ignore (all statistics pulled from https://goo.gl/VUfiuz and https://goo.gl/OOonhB).
Small businesses should use Twitter because:
- It is an easy way to allow customers to interact with you online.
- It allows a more casual approach to social media posting (see @Wendys, the Twitter belonging to the fast food chain Wendy’s).
- Twitter is a fast and easy way to get a message out.
- Using the search feature, it is easy to discover who is talking about your business on Twitter.
- It provides an easy way to continue solidifying your company’s brand.
What do I need to understand in order to use Twitter in a business capacity?
Twitter is relatively simple when it comes to technicality. A big part of understanding the social media platform is understanding the jargon and vocabulary that come with the website. They have a detailed glossary of their terms located here: https://goo.gl/ZDVhbg . Here are a few particularly important standouts from Mashable:
- Tweet: A 140-character message.
- Retweet (RT): Re-sharing or giving credit to someone else’s tweet.
- Feed: The stream of tweets you see on your homepage. It’s comprised of updates from users you follow.
- Handle: Your username.
- Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his username in a tweet (e.g. @mashable). Users are notified when @mentioned. It’s a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public realm.
- Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You can decide whether to accept a Direct Message from any Twitter user, or only from users you are following.
You may only DM a user who follows you.
- Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #AmericanIdol, #Obama). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows others to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also click on a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real time — even from people you don’t follow.
Another thing that needs to be understood is the target audience. What time are they most responsive on Twitter? What kind of content do they respond to? In the early stages of using Twitter, feel free to experiment. Post at different times of the day, and take notice of which times consistently have more follower engagement. Try posting different types of content, and see what your follower base responds to.
Growing your follower base can be tough. One way to gain followers over time is to feature your social media links (including Twitter) on business cards, flyers, and any kind of promotion that is used for your company. This gives customers (both current and potential) the ability to tune in to what your brand has to say, and also gives them a way to contact you if necessary. Another way to gain followers is to post quality content often. It sounds redundant, but by posting quality content often, you can earn Retweets and other forms of follower engagement. This can attract other people to your page, which may lead to them following your page.
The last thing to understand is that it is beneficial to post different content to different social media pages. If you consistently only post the same content to all of your company’s social media pages, this can frustrate followers and be the cause of unfollows and lessened follower engagement. Play to the strengths of the unique qualities of each social media platform. In the case of Twitter, create quick, concise statements and messages. Use hashtags to your advantage. Take advantages of features like Retweets to make your Twitter page unique from your other social media pages.
We have covered a lot of information thus far. How can all of it be used to run a successful Twitter page for your company? This list shows actionable material to keep in mind when running a business Twitter account.
- Interact with followers
- If somebody Tweets about how much they love your company, give them a retweet.
- If somebody asks you a question, reply with an answer.
- Use Twitter’s poll feature to create fun questions for your customers regarding your company.
- Promote your Twitter profile (along with your other social media pages)
- Include your company handle on business cards or any kind of promotion material.
- Post quality content
- It is acceptable to post up to 2-3 times a day, ideally at least once every day or two.
- Experiment with different post types to see what gets the most follower interaction (replies, retweets, favorites).
- Consider planning out content in advance. Sit down and plan out the Tweets for the week so that there is no last-minute scramble for content.
- Experiment with posting at different times of the day. Identify what time seems to be the most active for your followers by measuring follower interaction.
- If it is an especially notable post, it is acceptable to post the same content to multiple social media pages. However, do your best to provide each social media platform you utilize with exclusive content.
- Represent your company’s brand
- Use a handle that will allow users to easily identify your company’s page.
- Create a meaningful description for your page. Use a company mission statement, or just craft a short description that represents your brand.
External Twitter Resources
Here is a list of resources that are compiled from other websites. These contain a large amount of information that should be able to answer questions and provide insight.
- This is a particularly notable resource. It is a step-by-step guide to using Twitter for a small business.
- A link to Twitter’s glossary, previously referenced in this guide.
- This is a bit short and sweet, but reinforces a lot of the points made in this guide while adding to the conversation.
- A guide that focuses a bit more on technical advice.