At a time when Facebook is no longer cool (hey, Mark Zuckerberg has even admitted it!), now couldn’t be better to hone your skills as a master Tweeter. The micro-blogging social site is now where more teens and young people are flocking (with 26% ranking Twitter as the “most important” social network according to a Taking Stock with Teens study). These social butterflies and mobile moguls are the ones most likely to spread the word about your brand.
Knowing they’re there and engaging them are two different things though.
Engaging with Influencers on Twitter
As an online brand it is important to find a voice that your audience can relate to. Whether you’re pining for the attention of some pretty big industry influencers or looking to win the affections of new customers, striking the right chord will get well-targeted traffic to your site and a level of brand identity and personality.
However, it’s no popularity contest.
Higher follower numbers, whilst great for audience reach, does not always equate to more engagement.
The idea of quality over quantity couldn’t be truer here. You want people who are active users, who are well-connected, well-respected and carry influence within your industry.
You want those people who interact with your tweets on a regular basis, whether that’s retweeting, favoriting or replying.
It’s said there are only six degrees of separation between each and every person in the world, so if you can inspire a string of half a dozen people in succession to share your tweet, you might just connect with the whole world (disclaimer: a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).
Not only is interaction good for culturing an online face to your brand and building meaningful relationships with related brands and customers, but it’s also a fantastic social signal of engagement that Google takes into consideration in its search engine rankings. Now, enough about the benefits and bonuses of employing a super-duper Twitter Social Media strategy: let’s talk about how you can be more social and win the hearts of followers and potential customers.
Recommended reading: Twitter Engagement Unmasked: A Study of More Than 4M Tweets
1. Make New Friends
Don’t be a stranger, silly. Twitter is all about being social. Don't be frightened to follow new people. Don’t just follow someone because they’re popular either (because that never worked in school). Run searches on professions and interests you or your brand have in common. The best people to follow are those you feel you can relate to, whether they’re funny, inspiring, ambitious or compassionate not just because you like their profile pic (though, that might help). Honestly though, if you see that their bio ticks all the right boxes and they're local to you (particularly important if you run a small business), hit that follow button. If you're in any doubt, click through to see the person's last three tweets.
Like what you see? Share the same interests? Got something to add? Connect with them.
Be wary of automated accounts: tell-tale signs they’re probably automated are the ones that look spammy, just pump out links at periodic intervals, have very little social interaction or have no images, video or personality.
2. Tweet often, but not too much
Naturally people like knowing what you’re up to. But tweet too much and you become that annoying person that likes the sound of the own voice a little too much. Whilst there’s no hard and fast rule, Tweeting a couple of times a day is more natural – and sometimes, less is more.
Mornings, on the daily commute before 9am, are great to fire out your thoughts of the day. Then, at lunchtime around 12-1pm, after school, from 3-4pm and in the evenings around 7-8pm you will find peaks of social activity.
There are Social Media tools that can help schedule your message for the week. Tools like HootSuite and Buffer can help save you heaps of time, especially when put to work with a good content marketing strategy. Trial this for a couple of weeks and you’ll find you’ll get a lot more people interacting with you and following you because you’re active and engaging.
Just make sure you don’t send out the exact same messages multiple times a week or month. The same story but with a different teaser and at a different time of day is okay though as it can help find out more about what your followers like and when they’re most engaged.Content marketing is less about creation and more about promotion.
3. @Mention magic
Whilst it’s nice to thank someone for following, like ‘You can call me any time, Mr @BarrackObama’, it’s always better to make it more personal to their interests. Ask a question about what they’re passionate about, make it funny, or send them a cute picture – do something different!
If your strategy is working thus far though, you might find it hard to entertain your new followers individually. Don’t worry – a blanket welcome every now and then will help make your followers feel loved. One of the most powerful things of all is responding to tweets directed at you. Whether it’s something your care about or something funny, people and brands want you to join the conversation.
For example, if you love the way a new advert makes you feel, or you’re excited about a new product, engaging in a positive way towards a person or brand, you may expect a positive response in return (maybe even a favorite or retweet – more on those coming up).Not only that, but you’ll find that other people who follow that brand might follow you too because they feel like a) you’re a nice person and b) you like the same things as they do. They might even join you in your appreciation of Cadbury’s new strawberries and cream-filled chocolates.
4. Share the love
Retweeting and favoriting tweets are like a pat on the back – not just whom you’re following, but in the eyes of Google too. Interacting in this way shows that you find their content interesting or funny enough to share with your friends.
Favoriting is a way of acknowledging a good tweet. Retweeting is a way of rewarding a great tweet, because you feel so compelled to share it with all your followers.
To the aesthetically compulsive, a retweet also has the added bonus of offering variety to the display of your beautifully unique newsfeed (rather than clogging it up with your own beautiful face, not that there’s anything wrong with that). Variety is the spice of life and all that.
If you’re a garage, you should probably be following and searching for car-related tweets, such as finding a kids-sized Lamborghini or a monster truck doing a backflip, that’s the sort of things your followers would like to see. For example, Top Gear or Fifth Gear might yield some funny or interesting motoring-related stories which retweeting may win over some extra followers.
5. Bring your tweets to life with images and video
Images, and to a lesser extent video, are statistically proven to increase follower engagement. Whether by retweeting or favouriting, tweets with image links get twice the engagement rate of those without.
For example, if you’re a local village café, be sure to post tasty images of the new dish you’re serving up or the new desserts menu you can feast your eyes on.
If you’re office-based, tweet something funny that has just happened, like you’ve just lost your biscuit in your tea (do so with your colleagues approval if they don’t like being named and shamed for dodgy dunking).
Funny and inspiring things happen all around us every day. Capturing and sharing them with people brings us closer together.
6. #Hashtag trend
Jumping aboard popular hashtags (trending topics indicated by the ‘#' character, for all you #noobs) enables you to reach and inspire more people in a more direct way. Because we all don’t really like Mondays, if we’re honest, #HappyMonday is a popular way to spread some positivity. Whether it’s a cute animal picture or a team snap, bringing people together and making them feel good is a great way to start the week, agreed?
There are loads of hashtags for days of the week, so you can never be short of ideas to get followers involved in sharing their own stories. Another, #ThrowbackThursday, may help give a glimpse into your own personal life, looking back at a particularly special moment like graduation, marriage, starting your new business, your first-born child or something less serious like that time last week you found the most perfect dress in the world. Opening yourself up to your followers makes you more approachable, more human, more interesting and most of all, easier to relate to.
The classic #FollowFriday (or #FF for short) is a great way to compliment a particularly fascinating new follower or two from your week. Rather than just listing a load of new followers with very little thought, give people a reason why you love them and why they should be followed. Finally, it’s worth keeping an eye people you follow, as there are loads of interesting industry-related hashtags. From #MotorHappy to Cadbury’s #FreeTheJoy, there are like-minded Twitter-holics in your industry you can join in with. If you fancy something fresh, there’s nothing stopping you from starting you own too #JustSaying.
7. Kick-starting competitions
On a related note, competitions are a super way of racking up followers, using hashtags like #win #competition #free or #giveaway alongside your own.Everyone likes a deal, especially a freebie. Particularly at the start of your Twitter days, running a competition to win a gift basket, experience or money off at your shop will most definitely get your followers excited.
Tweet something like: ‘RT and Follow for a chance to win our sweet summer gift hamper #competition’ with a gorgeous photo of the lovely goodies.
The art of retweeting ensures your message is shared fast.
Be sure to post images of the prizes that your followers can win (seeing is believing, after all) as well as variations of the message until the competition closes. Asking your followers what they might do with the prize if they won would stir even more conversation.
To get things started, make use of your personal account to retweet your brand’s competition to your friends. And finally, remind people at peak times of the day (before 9am, after 12pm and 7pm in the week, and afternoons on weekends) to witness a follower frenzy.